OMB puts more investments on management watch list

The number of federal information technology investments that are poorly planned or managed increased by 47 percent over the last 12 months.

In the 2009 budget request submitted Feb. 4, the Office of Management and Budget wrote in its annual Clinger-Cohen report to Congress that 535 investments out of 810 were deemed problematic, compared with 364 investments in last year’s budget.

Those investments are placed on the management watch list and are worth more than $26.9 billion — more than 37 percent of the total IT budget. Last year, OMB said investments on the watch list were worth $14.8 billion.

“Departments and agencies have been provided the specific information regarding the weaknesses for their investments,” OMB officials wrote in the report. “Many of the investments still need to address security, performance measures, implementation of earned value management and other issues prior to obligating funding in 2009.”

For the first time, OMB gave a more detailed explanation of why it placed investments on the list. Bush administration officials had been under pressure from Congress and the Government Accountability Office to provide more details.

The report states that investments were on the list for:
• An overall evaluation of 30 or less.
• An overall security evaluation of 3 or less out of 5.
• Any other evaluation rating of 2 or less out of 5.
• Cost, schedule and performance problems.
• Overall consistency issues.

OMB also said 53 projects have remained on the watch list since 2006, including 16 Treasury Department investments and 14 investments by the Veterans Affairs Department.

In addition to the management watch list, OMB detailed some of the reasons the 603 systems were on the high-risk list. They included:
• High cost.
• Complexity.
• High-profile political or citizen interest.
• A cross-organizational nature or a high agency impact.
• An existing system that will terminate once its functionality has migrated to a common system.

Along with the management watch and high-risk lists, OMB reported progress on systems security. The report said 93 percent of agency systems were certified and accredited, 86 percent had tested their contingency plans, and 95 percent had tested their security controls. All are increases over last year’s percentages, OMB officials said.

They also said agencies fell short in the privacy area. Only 84 percent of agency systems have a privacy impact assessment, which was 6 percent below OMB’s goal. Additionally, only 83 percent of the systems have systems-of-records notices, and 76 percent of the agencies' inspectors general rated their assessment processes as satisfactory or better.

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