Budget

OMB seeks more money to tackle IT effectiveness

Sylvia Burwell

OMB Director Sylvia Burwell wants to focus on attracting more highly skilled IT developers and more agile vendors.

In size and funding, the Office of Management and Budget is a small agency, with a head count of about 500 and a fiscal 2015 budget request of $93 million. But in terms of its impact on the federal government and its interaction with Congress, it punches above its weight. So it's not a big surprise that OMB Director Sylvia Burwell was pressed at an April 9 Appropriations subcommittee hearing about a $12 million increase for IT oversight to improve efficiency in development and procurement.

The request comes in the wake of the troubled launch of HealthCare.gov, and the lessons learned from diagnosing the problems that led to the development of a site that didn't work. "That is what the money in the budget is about," Burwell said.

She told the subcommittee that OMB identified three management issues that need to be fixed to help IT procurement. OMB wants to put in place stronger connections between business owners and IT specialist, shift from a waterfall approach to development to a more iterative process, and improve end-to-end accountability on projects.

Burwell said she wants OMB to focus on attracting more highly skilled IT developers and managers and more agile vendors, and improving best practices for procurement and project management.

"There are complexities in the system" she said, that can impede government from getting the best IT professionals to work at agencies, and the most nimble and advanced tech companies to bid on government contracts.

Burwell said IT oversight appropriations have been focused on generating savings through policy initiatives such as cloud computing and data center consolidation. But the request to increase the overall IT oversight budget from $8 million to $20 million was about hiring more people to create and share acquisition and development best practices.

"We don't want to create this all over the government. We believe there should be a centralized place with the skills and best practices that then apply to different places and departments," she said.

It's not clear whether more money is in the offing. Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee Chairman Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) said he was impressed by the overall federal IT savings in recent years, but noted that most government departments were making due with less funding, and that congressional offices have seen their appropriations decline by 16 percent in recent years. "Most Americans want to see leaders lead by example," he said.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is FCW's senior staff writer, and covers Congress, health IT and governmentwide IT policy. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Fri, Apr 11, 2014

If you get an offer by the US government in OMB or any other agency, run! Federal employment is not a pleasant place and with 80%+ of federal spending going to mandatory spending (interest on the debt, Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security), there is precious little (actually no) room for better future treatment of federal employees. But, the politicians are trying to balance the budget deficit on the backs of a very small population of feds. Good for political show, but really does nothing. Hiring and treating them well is certainly not in the cards.

Thu, Apr 10, 2014 John Kim Los Angeles, CA

I think that competitions to spur federal research can enable patriotism in participants. The contributions made in a competition can potentially save more lives and introduce stunning breakthroughs in technology, not explored by the private sector.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above