IT a heavyweight in budget process

Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office

Agency officials are truly integrating information technology into their program decisions, an Office of Management and Budget official said, thanks to new budget mandates that require business cases for all e-government and e-business investments

OMB revised its Circular A-11 last year, calling for agencies to develop business cases for the majority of IT investments in the fiscal 2004 budget, which will be released next week.

In the past, only the largest investments qualified for the business case requirement, leaving almost two-thirds of the federal IT budget—including the majority of e-government projects—"below the radar," said Bill McVay, senior program analyst at OMB's information policy and technology branch.

He was speaking Jan. 27 at the Aligning Service, Results and Information Technology forum, sponsored by the General Services Administration and the National Defense University.

During the development of the fiscal 2004 budget, OMB combined this new requirement with the work already done on the Federal Enterprise Architecture's Business Reference Model, which identifies all the lines of business every agency performs. Officials at the agencies and OMB mapped each of the IT business cases against the projects and programs in the reference model, ensuring that for the first time IT investments were considered as part of every agency's program budget decisions, McVay said.

"Information technology played a huge part in the budget process this year," he said.

The second version of the Business Reference Model is due to be released within the next month and will include the Defense Department and the intelligence community for the first time, McVay said. The Performance Reference Model, which will help track the performance metrics for all of the business lines, is due out soon, he said.

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