OMB freezes management systems

OMB July 30 memo

The Office of Management and Budget on July 30 issued a memo to the agencies that are moving to the proposed Homeland Security Department, directing them to freeze all planned investments on major management systems.

The freeze is a step toward creating an information technology architecture for the proposed department.

The memo focuses on the financial, human resources and procurement management systems at the agencies. It also describes how the proposed department could take advantage of particular initiatives already under way as part of the E-Government Strategy.

Those initiatives, which are being developed by multi-agency teams under OMB's leadership, are designed to improve efficiency and effectiveness and include e-Training, Integrated Acquisition Environment, e-Travel, Recruitment One Stop, and Integrated Human Relations and Payroll Processing.

The affected agencies include the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Treasury departments.

Each of those agencies has its own management systems, and they have millions of dollars worth of modernization efforts planned or under way. Among the largest investments over fiscal 2002 and 2003 are:

* $86 million for the Customs Service's Automated Commercial Environment.

* $24.1 million for the Coast Guard's Finance Center Total System.

* $23.9 million for the Immigration and Naturalization Service's Federal Financial Management System.

The freeze affects all investments more than $500,000, pending a quick review by the Business Systems IT Review Group created by the memo. Initial estimates show consolidation of the financial systems alone could save up to $85 million over the next two years, according to OMB.

The review group will be led by OMB and the Office of Homeland Security, and will be made up of chief financial officers, procurement executives, chief information officers and human resources executives from each of the agencies. The group will define high-level requirements, recommend actions and track savings.

The memo outlines a review structure similar to the one in place for all homeland security IT investments, detailed in a July 19 OMB memo. Under that process, reviews of agency investments are expected to take only days or weeks, according to OMB officials.

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