LOBs continue to take hold, OMB officials say

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- In the three years since the Office of Management and Budget began work on the line-of-business initiatives, agencies went from “no, never going to happen” to “this can work,” according to officials involved in the programs.

One of the keys has been convincing agencies to work as one government enterprise, said Tim Young, OMB’s associate administrator for e-government and information technology.

“Some are still angry with what we are doing with the LOBs,” Young said April 30 during a panel discussion at the 46th annual Interagency Resources Management Conference. “But a lot of people have benefited from the e-government and LOB initiatives and now they are taking the solutions for granted.”

Young pointed to the real advantages from the programs. He said the Labor Department cut the cost of processing travel vouchers to $24.75 from $62.59 through the E-Travel initiative. The Environmental Protection Agency cut its cost to process W-2 forms from $270 to $90 per employee.

And now the more advanced LOBs are providing not only lessons learned, but also functionality for the newer ones. Young said the Security LOB likely will use the E-Training e-government project. Additionally, the IT Infrastructure LOB will look to the General Services Administration’s governmentwide telecommunications contract Networx for services.

“We want to get to the point where agencies are paying for services,” he added.

The Human Resources and Financial Management LOBs are the furthest along in meeting OMB’s goal of fee for service.

Danny Werfel, OMB’s deputy comptroller, said the financial initiative will release a request for proposals in June to certify commercial shared-service providers. Other officials said the HR LOB will precede the financial RFP with its own this month.

“We are looking at the HR LOB to leverage their approach,” Werfel said. “We are still working out the details, but we will likely want to know about operational capabilities and a demonstration of their capabilities.”

Werfel also said the Financial Management LOB would release its next set of accounting standards for payables for public comment this month. The accounts receivable and billing would come after that, Werfel said.

The Financial Management LOB office wants to test the common governmentwide accounting code with a handful of agencies, he added.

“We want a proof of concept,” Werfel said. “We want agencies to put together an implementation schedule and it will be helpful for them to see what challenges they may face in a pilot.”

GSA received more than 600 comments and will release the final document in the fall, he added.

Meanwhile, the IT Infrastructure LOB will award a contract for a vendor to establish baseline metrics for agency and governmentwide desktops, data centers and telecommunications networks this month.

Von Harrison, IT Infrastructure program manager, said when GSA awards the contract, the program office will revise federal metrics for the three areas of the initiative so they align with industry standards.

“We are not going to tell agencies how to get to these baseline standards,” she said. “They will figure it out and report back on their performance.”

Harrison said several challenges are coming up with metrics, including determining what the right measures are, getting initial baseline data from agencies and ensuring that the metrics are fair.

“We found everyone measures their network performance differently,” she said. “Some do total cost of ownership and others do hardware and software costs.”

Harrison said that although some people will continue to be angry, the results speak for themselves.

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