Exhibit 300s change little

Draft guidance sent out last week by the Office of Management and Budget for fiscal 2007 agency information technology business case submissions contains only minor changes compared to last year, said Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and IT.

Each year, OMB officials issue a revised version of Circular A-11, which contains instructions for preparing agency business cases for major IT projects and documenting all IT spending, called the Exhibits 300s and Exhibits 53s, respectively.

"We've really minimized again the changes on the 300s," Evans said April 25, speaking at the annual Government Performance Summit in Washington, D.C. "We want to make sure there is comparative analysis from year to year," she said. But the current guidance is only in draft form, Evans said. "It's not final until the director signs off on the A-11 guidance, the way it's always been before."

An attempt last year by OMB officials to change the data requirements of the Exhibit 300 encountered stiff resistance from agency chief information officers.

Like last year, agencies that make cost-cutting savings in their projected technology base will be able to keep the savings and apply that money toward mission support, Evans said. Under the current budget structure, however, that incentive for agencies to find savings cannot be permanently guaranteed, she said. "It all gets down to A-11 gets renewed every year," she said in an interview.

Ensuring that budget analysts consistently grade agency business cases despite turnover remains a priority, Evans told the conference audience. Personnel changes at OMB are a fact of life, she added. For example, the person who managed the Defense Department portfolio last year is no longer at OMB, Evans said.

Another priority is to prevent copycat Exhibit 300s, she said. Language that earns one project a top score from analysts should not be cut and pasted into other business cases, she said. Additional OMB guidance will be sent to agencies, Evans added.

In addition, agency CIOs will again be asked to score their own business cases, Evans said. Major discrepancies between an OMB analysts and a CIO’s scoring will be a red flag for further discussion, she said.

Agency comments on the draft guidance are due by April 29.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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