Making it stick

A recent Federal Computer Week editorial considered the prospects of President Bush's information technology management agenda following the departure of Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell Daniels Jr. Similar concerns have been raised over the impending departure of Mark Forman, administrator of OMB's Office of E-government and IT. The question now is how well officials will take the baton from these two pioneers.

For a successful transition, e-government processes must be "institutionalized" out in the trenches, and agencies must integrate OMB's mandates into their governance and management processes.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must note that as head of an enterprise architecture modeling software vendor, I have a vested interest in the success of e-government.

The news is basically good. OMB has created a strong foundation for e-government. However, I have seen a lot of variation in agencies' abilities to deliver what the office is requiring. Some eagerly embrace it, some see it as an ordeal, and many are somewhere in between.

Regardless of where your agency lies on this scale, here are some actions that may help you institutionalize the changes and bring your programs into closer compliance with OMB's 2005 funding parameters:

* Create a governance process in which your chief financial officer and chief information officer are joined at the hip. For the past year, enterprise architecture guidelines have pushed agencies to demonstrate that their capital planning and architecture are fully integrated.

* Spare no effort in creating a compelling business case. Sections 53 and 300 of OMB Circular A-11 Guidance on the CIO Council's Web site make it clear that the federal enterprise architecture is fully integrated into the budget process. OMB is making budget decisions based on these documents, so a failure to build a strong business case could cost you significant funding.

* Get your program and project managers energetically involved. OMB now requires them to review the Exhibit 300 business cases for their projects. There is nothing in A-11 about forming a consolidated project management office, but it is something to consider if your agency has two or more e-government initiatives under way.

* Be prepared to partner with consultants and integrators from the commercial sector.

Regardless of how much of this advice you follow, always remember Forman's mantra: "Unify and simplify."

This applies to all systems and processes. If you plan your strategies accordingly, you will support OMB in its goal of eliminating redundancies in your underlying IT infrastructure and free up money for systems that deliver vital services. Your efforts will be rewarded — possibly with a green OMB score card, which is an agency's mark of success in institutionalizing e-government processes.

Wright is president and chief executive officer of Computas NA, Inc., a provider of visual enterprise architecture modeling and decision support software.

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