OMB's Evans raises project reporting bar

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Earned value management (EVM) analysis could become the next mantra of chief information officers who are anxious to see green ovals in the e-government column of their quarterly score cards from the Office of Management and Budget.

OMB officials want to see evidence of ongoing EVM analysis, said Karen Evans, the office's administrator for e-government and information technology, in an Aug. 23 memo to federal CIOs. EVM analysis is a project management technique that managers use to measure progress toward meeting cost and schedule milestones.

Evans said the EVM requirement is not new, but managers were confused about whether they should formally report their progress compared to project milestones. Evans said the memo should clear up any confusion about reporting requirements. As a result, she said, "we do anticipate that more agencies will move to green."

The analysis is in addition to an OMB requirement that projects deviate less than 10 percent from baseline assumptions about cost, schedule and performance.

According to the memo, agencies aiming for green should supply OMB officials with documentation of their earned valueuse policies, use of earned value performance data and plans for corrective action if projects deviate from baseline cost and schedule assumptions.

Only about 44 percent of federal agencies have provided satisfactory justification for their major IT investments, OMB officials said in a report released last month. But the report states that 72 percent of agencies have mechanisms to "validate performance relative to cost, schedule and performance goals" and that about half of those agencies are meeting at least 90 percent of their cost and schedule goals.

Agency officials responded positively to Evans' memo. Tom Pyke, the Commerce Department's CIO, said EVM analysis gives agencies real-time and more detailed data on IT projects. Officials can detect and correct deviations from milestones early on, he said.

Another official said EVM analysis is helpful. Without a sober view of progress vs. assumptions, "you have a tendency to rationalize why things are OK when maybe they're not," said William Campbell, principal deputy assistant secretary for human resources and administration at the Department of Veterans Affairs. "We see what should be, not always what is."

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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