Budget makes business case

Fiscal 2003 budget

The Bush administration today submitted to Congress a $2.1 trillion budget request for fiscal 2003 that continues to focus on agency management and program effectiveness, including basing the more than $50 billion in information technology investments on sound business cases.

Although past budgets have focused on mission areas — such as education, the environment and public health — the 2003 budget includes an agency-by-agency breakdown to explore the results-based management endorsed in the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 and by the President's Management Agenda issued in October 2001.

"It does attempt to break into new ground and inagurate a new era of accountability," Mitchell Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget, said at a briefing with reporters.

The budget also devotes $38 billion to homeland security — including $722 million for using IT to improve information sharing — and much more to the war on terrorism, as the Defense Department's budget increases by more than 12 percent to almost $389 billion.

To counteract these increases, the administration followed through on its plan to use the management agenda scorecard to award or penalize program budgets depending on their performance.

The administration graded agencies' progress toward implementing the five items in the President's Management Agenda: strategic management of human capital, expanded use of e-government, increased competitive sourcing, improved financial performance, and integration of budget and performance.

Agencies received red, yellow or green scores for each area. In this first year, almost 85 percent of the scores were red, although the e-government area received the most number of yellow scores, with nine. The National Science Foundation received the only green score, in the area of financial management.

But this was to be expected because the management agenda targeted the areas of government needing the greatest improvement, according to the administration. "The marks that really matter will be those that record improvement, or lack of it, from this starting point," the budget states.

The increase in IT funding does not negate the administration's decision last year to question whether the government was already spending too much on IT with $45 billion in fiscal 2002, Daniels said. Programs that did not perform well have been cut back or cut out, and OMB is only requesting additional money for programs where agencies came up with a good business case, he said.

"We're in favor of IT spending if it's done well," he said. "Spending done well, and spending that pushes us in the direction of a more efficient government that can work better with citizens and with ourselves is a good idea."

The budget details the effectiveness of the IT and e-government programs at each of the top agencies and outlines the performance improvement milestones that have been set for fiscal 2002. Agencies' ability to meet those milestones will be used to determine success when making funding decisions for the next budget.

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