OMB plugs in budgeting step

Circular A-34, Transmittal Memorandum 17

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Circular A-34

The Office of Management and Budget will begin testing technology in the coming month that eventually will enable agencies to electronically send their requests for how they plan to spend their money.

OMB sent out a new transmittal memorandum July 13 revising Circular A-34, which governs the apportionment process that agencies follow when submitting plans to OMB about how they will spend their appropriated funding.

While some agencies have converted their internal materials to spreadsheets and are spending those spreadsheets to OMB via e-mail, the approval process is still done on paper, according to OMB officials.

The memo outlines a conversion schedule that will start with the fiscal 2002 apportionments, which are due beginning Aug. 21. That material will be the testing ground for using electronic signatures at the agencies to sign the requests and at OMB to legally approve them, OMB Director Mitchell Daniels Jr. wrote in the revision.

"Our target for having this capability available is August 2002, for use with the initial fiscal 2003 apportionments," he wrote.

Agencies that have not upgraded their apportionments process must do so following OMB guidance, and those that already have will have to modify their spreadsheets so that the information can be uploaded to OMB's budget database.

Having all of this information immediately available in the database will enable OMB to quickly turn around analytic and diagnostic reports for the staff at agencies and in the OMB resource management offices, Daniels wrote.

Over the coming month, OMB will test the upload process with the Health and Human Services, and Treasury and Defense departments. The beginning of August will be dedicated to training agency and OMB staff members on filling out the apportionment spreadsheets. Starting Aug. 21, agencies will begin making submissions.

The electronic apportionment guidance will be incorporated into A-34 this fall, and agencies will start using electronic signatures to submit their materials in August 2002.

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