Senate IT oversight bill would refine OMB’s role

Legislation that would play a part in defining the Office of Management and Budget’s role into the next administration and beyond could pass this year, according to some observers.

The Senate bill, S.3384, would require agencies to report their progress on information technology investments so Congress and OMB would have an early warning system to avert problems before they become too large. The measure has bipartisan support from leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is expected to discuss and amend the bill in September.

Although OMB is an extension of the White House, the legislation would make the agency the enforcer, said Trey Hodgkins, vice president of federal government programs at the Information Technology Association of America’s public-sector group.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the committee’s Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security Subcommittee, introduced the legislation.
Despite the short time remaining for Congress to act once it comes back from summer recess, the bill could pass this year, Hodgkins said. ITAA hopes “it is adopted with a thoughtful methodical process and not rushed,” he said.

The measure would require agency project managers to file quarterly reports on all of their projects to the agency’s chief information officer. The CIO would be responsible for determining if any of the projects deviated significantly from original baseline projections. If so, the CIO would report that to the agency head, who in turn would be responsible for notifying the appropriate congressional committees.

The bill defines a “gross deviation” as one that is at least 40 percent off of the original baseline for cost, performance or schedule. It also defines “significant deviation” as one that is at least 20 percent off.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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