OMB hammers performance message

OMB e-gov site

The White House will continue to scrutinize agencies for measurable performance and increased efficiency, interoperability, and business justification in information technology over the coming year, said Mark Forman, administrator of the Office of E-Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget.

Speaking to the audience at a National Academy of Public Administration conference this morning, Forman said the administration's proposed 2004 budget ties agency funding increasingly tightly to achievements.

"The clear glue in the [President's] Management Agenda is the focus on performance," he said. Recent initiatives in enterprise architecture, e-government, enterprise licensing, the freezing of projects that are not justified by a strong business case, and the continual hammering on interoperability and collaboration reflect that emphasis, he said.

The 2004 budget specifically addresses six areas of continued weakness, he said:

* Automating inefficient processes, or "paving cow paths." Simply converting a badly planned process from manual to automatic won't make the agency more effective, he said. Agencies should rethink their processes and discover how to get the most from available technologies.

* Program management. Far too many programs still come in past deadline and over budget, he said.

* Redundant buying. Agencies should find ways to consolidate operations so that they need fewer systems.

* Islands of automation. Agencies still haven't solved the age-old stovepipe problem, he said.

* Cybersecurity. Keeping information protected while making it available to those authorized to have it is a never-ending concern.

"Today the challenge is to become simpler. The government needs to be re-architected," he said. "We're overspending in the some areas of IT. We need to the refocus the spending to where we can get better results."

Forman said agencies should change their thought processes completely and incorporate technologies such as Extensible Markup Language to transfer data between systems and agencies. In the recent drive to reduce or eliminate paper, he said, "We ask people to submit electronic versions of paper, and that's wrong. We need to think in terms of data."

Federal workers will increasingly depend on ready access to shared data to do their jobs in coming years, he said. "This is the worker of the future. At their fingertips they have access to knowledge management and so forth," he said. "The human capital issue is heavily related to performance."


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