Agencies post business cases online

Commerce's Business Cases

Sixteen agencies complied with the Office of Management and Budget’s request to  post their information technology business cases online.

Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and IT, said earlier this month that redacted versions of every agency's business case would be posted online about two weeks after the administration issued its budget request to the Hill.

An OMB spokeswoman said there likely will be no central Web portal where the public can find links to the business cases.

OMB and agencies have been reluctant to share business cases in the past and would issue them only when someone filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

“We had to fight tooth and nail to get them from some agencies and every agency interprets FOIA laws differently,” said Kevin Plexico, executive vice president at Input, a market research firm based in Reston, Va. “Some business cases are more thorough and give more insight to see if there is information of interest to vendors. It is a great step toward transparency.”

OMB required agencies to publicly release their business cases in the Circular A-11 guidance released in June.

“Agencies are required to post on their agency Web site, within two weeks of the release of the president’s budget, these updated exhibits reflecting final presidential decisions,” the guidance states.

Some of the largest agencies did not meet the OMB deadline of noon Feb. 22 to provide a link to their business cases. The agencies that missed the timetable include the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, State and Veterans Affairs; the Small Business Administration; the Smithsonian Institution; and the Agency for International Development.

The agencies that put their business cases online provide some telling information.

The Treasury Department, for example, lists 64 business cases and gives details on how much money it will spend or has spent on a project for the past three years. The cases provide information on how the projects are meeting their performance goals, using their enterprise architectures and risk management issues.

“The only limitation of agencies releasing their business cases is they are putting it on their own Web site and you have to know where to find them,” Plexico said. “It is not a perfect solution, but it is better than it was.”

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