OMB hopes to improve investment oversight

GAO report: "Information Technology Investment Management: A Framework for Assessing and Improving Process Maturity" (PDF)

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OMB Circular A-11

Office of Management and Budget officials want to ensure agencies meet deadlines, budgets and performance goals for planned information technology investments.

"The progress, particularly in security, was not where we planned to be this year, but we plan to correct that," said Clay Johnson, OMB's deputy director for management, testifying today before the House Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee. "We need to put more checks and balances, more teeth into it; there needs to be more consequences."

OMB officials can oversee agencies' investments through the apportionment process, which determines how agencies can spend appropriations, Johnson said. However, "we don't apportion funds to the extent that we can," he said.

Officials want to incorporate better IT investment management, said Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for e-government and IT. Much of that guidance will be worked into Circular A-11, which outlines investment requirements for agencies; a draft should go to the CIO Council for comments later this month, she said.

This move is part of an effort to improve agencies' progress on the President's Management Agenda, Johnson said. It also follows a General Accounting Office study that found agencies lack practices for managing their investments.

"Collectively, the 26 agencies that we reviewed had less than 50 percent of the [management] practices in place," said David Powner, director of information technology management issues at GAO. Without those practices that provide necessary executive oversight, "agencies lack assurance that investments are on track and continue to meet mission needs," he said.

At the hearing, the General Accounting Office also released a new executive guide for agencies, "Information Technology Investment Management: A Framework for Assessing and Improving Process Maturity." Agencies had used a draft version of the guide before, and the lessons from that experience have been worked into the final version, particularly in the second and third stages, which focus on a foundation of investment practices and an investment portfolio process, said Lester Diamond, GAO assistant director of IT management issues. For future versions of the guide, GAO also plans to include best practices from the private sector, he said.

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