OMB targets redundancy

The time for cutting redundant agency information technology systems is at hand, said Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget’s administrator for e-government and IT.

“We have to have cost reductions,” as cross-agency solutions like service centers and the e-government initiatives are implemented, she said. Evans spoke during the annual Government Performance Summit conference in Washington, D.C.

In the case of the financial management, grants management and human resources line-of-business initiatives, each agency will be required to commit to a minimum level of participation in cross-agency service centers as legacy systems expire, Evans said. Agency migration to service centers is slated to begin during fiscal 2006.

In the case of the financial management line of business, the minimum cross-agency commitment is common application hosting. “But you can actually take it up to the ceiling…and just access the [financial] information,” she said.

Under the service center construct, select government agencies and the private sector compete with each other to offer business process services to the government. Federal guidance for private-sector service center bidding will be finalized before fiscal 2006 starts in October, Evans said.

In the future, agencies looking to replace legacy systems that support targeted business processes will issue requests for proposals and treat service center contracting like any other acquisition, Evans said.

Service center contracts will be awarded on a best value, not a best cost basis, she added. Private industry could reduce the cost of offering the government services by slashing prices and passing on those costs “to their private industry folks, so they could compensate for the outlay,” she said. “We’ve talked a lot about this; that’s why it’s got to be best value going forward.”

Private industry service centers must also comply with government regulations such as the Federal Information Security Management Act and physical security standards, she added.

Officials are still working to find the best way to determine the relative best value of private and government service centers, Evans said. OMB officials are working with the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency to come up with ways that inspector generals could validate savings produced by cross-agency solutions, Evans added. They need a method to “say these are really real savings, they’re not just estimated anymore,” she said.


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About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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