EOP tech plans progressing

The Executive Office of the President has made progress on its information technology management plans, including developing IT enterprise architecture, according to the General Accounting Office.

During the fiscal 2002 budget process, Congress prohibited EOP from using systems modernization money until the office developed a coordinated plan to invest and manage those funds. EOP, which is made up of more than 12 agencies, offices and other organizations, including the Office of Management and Budget, has now done that.

GAO found in its review that although EOP's plans are still "a work in progress", they have made "future commitments relative to each of the four areas addressed in its report," Randolph Hite, director of IT architecture and systems issues at GAO, wrote in a June 28 letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees.

The four IT management areas addressed in the EOP report are enterprise architecture, IT capital planning and investment control process, capital investment planning and IT workforce planning.

An enterprise architecture is the basis for good IT management, according to GAO. "EOP owes its progress and commitments in enterprise architecture largely to the [chief information officer] office's understanding of the importance and value of this IT management tool," Hite wrote. "Assuming that progress continues and the architecture development plan is effectively implemented, EOP's ability to effectively invest in IT should benefit from its architecture efforts."

The White House hired its first CIO in September 2001, and in the beginning of fiscal 2002 created a complete CIO organization that ties together all of the IT groups throughout EOP. It has also developed an IT human capital plan that lays out the inventory of skills within the office, recruitment plans, and training needs.

EOP is now also establishing an Information Resources Management Executive Council, which will guide and direct the capital planning and investment control process as well as function as the EOP corporate investment board, according to the letter.

The short-term investment plan focuses on improvements to the current IT infrastructure, rather than visionary projects. These include:

* $5 million to redesign and relocate the office's data center to increase security and address continuity of operations issues following Sept. 11.

* $1.5 million for customer service and desktop systems.

* $1 million for upgrading existing network communications.

This narrow focus "reflects the CIO office's awareness of the kinds of investments that are appropriate at this early stage in the office's IT modernization agenda," Hite wrote.

A measure that could assist all of those plans is a request made for EOP in the fiscal 2003 budget to combine the budget for all the EOP offices and agencies to leverage procurement of common products and services across the office.

This request has been turned down in the past, but it made it past the first hurdle on June 26 when the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government approved the establishment of a pilot project centralizing the procurement of "certain common goods and services."

RELATEDLINKS

"White House hires a CIO" [FCW.com, Sept. 7, 2001]

"A-11 revisions stress planning" [Federal Computer Week June 17, 2002]

"OMB takes aim at redundant IT" [Fcw.com June 26, 2002]

Executive Office of the President: Analysis of Mandated Report on Key Information Technology Areas. GAO-02-779R, June 28.

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