OMB adds to High Risk list

The Office of Management and Budget has added 50 information technology projects to its High Risk List since August, bringing the total to 603 projects the agency is concerned about.

The projects equal at least $15.5 billion in IT spending for fiscal 2008, OMB said today.

The boost in numbers continues a trend at OMB. In August, OMB said it had added 76 projects to the high risk list for a variety of reasons, such as their complexity or level of importance. The 553 projects were worth about $12.9 billion. Overall, the Bush administration has increased the number of projects on the list by 10 percent since it released its fiscal 2008 budget in February.

Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and IT, said the growing number of high-risk projects signifies agencies’ improved management oversight. She said agencies now have more information about the projects.

“The increase in the High Risk List of projects illustrates the effective use of reporting through the life cycle of the investment,” Evans said.

Projects on the list require special attention from the agency’s top managers, but aren’t necessarily at risk of failure. The list focuses on planning for major investments and getting performance data to ensure agencies meet their intended goals.

Meanwhile, OMB's Management Watch List is experiencing a different trend. OMB has removed two programs from this list since August, leaving 134 programs as of September. The remaining programs are worth about $8.4 billion in projected IT investment for 2008.

Investment in those programs has decreased by $1.3 billion since April. Since Bush made his budget request in February, OMB has taken 212 programs off the list, a 61 percent decrease.

OMB said it removed the programs because agency managers minimized planning deficiencies, or in some cases, completed documentation that supported improved management.

The Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 requires agencies to submit to OMB business plans for IT investments. If an agency’s investment plan contains one or more planning weaknesses, it’s placed on the Management Watch List. Officials then target it for follow-up to correct potential planning problems before starting the program.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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