Evans: HSPD-12 program is not an unfunded mandate for agencies

But the IT industry is not so sure that federal agencies can pay for the secure identity credentialing program

The Office of Management and Budget and the information technology industry disagree about whether aspects of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) program are being properly funded.

By Oct. 27, federal agencies must issue digital credentials to all employees who have less than 15 years of service.

Vendors are worried, but OMB officials sound confident that agencies can pay for the mandatory personal identity verification program, known as HSPD-12.
“It’s not an unfunded mandate,” said Karen Evans, administrator of e-government and IT at OMB. “When [agencies] tell you that, that’s not true.”

Evans said agencies can restructure their major investments to pay for HSPD-12, which OMB has designated as a priority program. Agency officials are recategorizing their portfolios to reflect the new priority, Evans said.

A number of agency chief information officers agreed with Evans’ assessment that HSPD-12 does not put agencies in a difficult financial spot.

For several years, the Agriculture Department has allocated funds for identifying and verifying the identities of its employees and contractors, both of which the HSPD-12 program requires. What makes HSPD-12 different from previous spending on employee and contractor security is that HSPD-12 sets governmentwide standards and policies, said Dave Combs, the USDA’s CIO.

Many HSPD-12 program costs will be distributed across several budget years, lessening the financial impact, said Patrick Pizzella, the Labor Department’s CIO.
“Since [HSPD-12] is spread out over four years, much of its funding touches areas we have been working on since 9/11 and, in some cases, before,” Pizzella said.
IT industry officials, however, insist that many agencies have not factored in costs for a huge wave of background checks that HSPD-12 requires.

Those background checks, which are the responsibility of the Office of Personnel Management, will cost agencies about $350 per employee, provided the investigations have no contingencies, such as a bankruptcy or a divorce, said Trey Hodgkins, director of defense programs at the IT Association of America.

“None of the agencies have been funded to our knowledge or budgeted to pay for it,” Hodgkins said. “OPM’s investigative service is fee-for-service, so someone’s going to pay for it somewhere, and that hasn’t been discussed or allocated.”

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