OMB sees IT efficiency from E-Gov Act

OMB fiscal 2005 budget development guidance

Performance, privacy and program alignment will continue to be top issues for the Bush administration in fiscal 2005 — and this time officials expect that new laws will give them more motivation, a top information technology official for the Office of Management and Budget said this morning.

"The interesting thing is now we have for the first time the E-Gov Act ... which requires agencies to develop performance measures for their programs," said Dan Chenok, information technology branch chief at OMB.

Chenok spoke today at a breakfast sponsored by Federal Sources Inc.

OMB policy for years has called for metrics that show how tech investments affect program performance, but the E-Gov Act of 2002 puts even more emphasis on that, Chenok said. Agencies will submit their fiscal 2005 budget requests on Sept. 8.

This is the third budget cycle where IT investments must be presented in a thorough business case, Chenok noted, so OMB will be likely focusing agencies more on areas of improvement for ongoing systems or development efforts. "We don't necessarily need to get all of the same information year after year," he said.

Fiscal 2005 budget guidance also focused on better integrating the IT performance measures and metrics now being developed for all federal programs under the Program Assessment Rating Tool. The hope is that members of Congress will pay more attention to reform initiatives they had a hand in defining, Chenok said.

The E-Gov Act also mandates thorough privacy impact assessments for all new systems, which will be a new process for many agencies. Much like with the first year of the security assessment reports under what was then the Government Information Security Reform Act of 2000, officials do not expect this first set of privacy impact assessments to be perfect. "We're going to be working to do things as well as we can," Chenok said.

OMB is finalizing the guidance for these assessments, but officials there have been working with agencies using the draft guidance, as well as training OMB budget examiners on how to evaluate the assessments, Chenok said.

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