OMB readies its plans to be a manager

Fiscal 2002 budget overview

Agencies will learn the first details of the Bush administration's "ambitious" management agenda when the Office of Management and Budget meets with department heads this week, OMB Director Mitchell Daniels Jr. told Congress.

Management issues and measuring agency performance on those issues are top priorities of the Bush administration, and the first big step will be sharing "areas of special urgency for attention" with agencies, Daniels said in testimony May 10 before the House Appropriations Committee's Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Subcommittee.

The idea that the administration would define certain management issues for individual agencies appeared in Bush's fiscal 2002 budget proposal released in April. Bush indicated that the White House would set some specific performance goals for select programs across government.

Oversight of the information technology initiatives "will be a principal assignment of the [OMB] deputy director for management" and a dedicated person serving under the DDM, Daniels said.

OMB has not yet decided on the positioning of that IT leader within the deputy director for management's office, spokesman Christopher Ullman said.

Congressional oversight committees — including the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Government Reform Committee — have expressed interest in hearings about OMB's fulfillment of its IT management responsibilities. But members of the appropriations subcommittee made it clear that they, too, are paying close attention.

"There is a great need for increased management, especially in the area of [IT]," said Rep. Ernest Istook Jr. (R-Okla.), chairman of the subcommittee.

Providing the means for that management and the tools to measure the effectiveness of program management are key ways OMB can contribute to the improvement of government, Istook and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) told Daniels.

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