IT is a footnote at Graham confirmation

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

The Bush administration's nominee to lead the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs took heat last week at his Senate confirmation hearing, but none of the controversy dealt with his qualifications on the information technology side.

John Graham drew no questions at his May 17 hearing about the information policy responsibilities of the OIRA administrator; rather, senators' questions focused on Graham's take on the federal regulatory process as the director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. But in answering pages of written questions about IT and OIRA's role as the policy lead for agencies' e-government initiatives, Graham made it clear that despite having little experience, he is willing to learn.

Should he be confirmed as expected, Graham said he would work hard to "understand the individual projects under way in OIRA, to see how OIRA is carrying these out and then to decide what kinds of improvements may need to be made or new initiatives undertaken."

OIRA is one of several offices under the Office of Management and Budget's deputy director for management, a position still vacant. OIRA's projects include ensuring that agencies carry out the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, which mandates federal IT management and capital-planning practices; developing guidance on information security and privacy; and working with the budget side of OMB to improve agencies' technology investments.

Graham said he has gone through extensive briefings with the OIRA staff. Although there will be a review of the office's performance and resources, building on the work started under the Clinton administration is the first priority, he said.

Graham's confirmation hearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee coincided with hearings for Angela Styles to be administrator of OMB's Office of Federal Procurement Policy and for Stephen Perry to lead the General Services Administration. Styles and Perry focused on their intentions to improve the efficiency of federal procurement practices and the multitude of contract vehicles available throughout government.

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