OMB increases transparency of agency IT management data

The Office of Management and Budget hopes to see greater savings from the improvements agencies have demonstrated in the management of their IT projects.

Agencies have reduced overall the number of IT projects on OMB’s High Risk List through progress in planning, managing and monitoring their IT investments, said Karen Evans, OMB administrator for e-government and information technology.

Specifically, agencies are completing more of their IT project implementation plans, Evans said. Many agencies are on the high risk list because of their progress on governmentwide initiatives, such as back-office and administrative systems. Agencies need to complete their quarterly milestones and implementations, but also shut down their legacy systems.

“The incentive is to shut down the legacy system, realize the savings, and you’re off the list,” Evans said last week. “If agencies shut down legacy systems, the dollars you had for the maintenance and operations of those legacy systems will be able to be reapplied to service activities.”

OMB is starting to collect the information to determine agency savings from IT and e-government so they can be documented in the next president’s budget. Last year, the administration documented $500 million in savings, Evans said.

OMB also launched an application that lets users view data about IT projects on the Management Watch and High Risk lists by agency and service category and click to drill down for more information. The data about project costs in the Visualization to Understand Expenditures in Information Technology, or Vue-IT, software is already public, but OMB has made it more accessible and useful, according to the agency.

The transparency about agency IT project management should also encourage agencies to fix problems, said Jennifer Kerber, senior director of homeland security and federal civilian programs at the Information Technology Association of America.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security Subcommittee, said the application was a step forward, but it needs to include more detailed cost, delivery and performance information for IT projects. Carper has introduced legislation to make federal spending on IT projects more transparent.

“In this current economic downturn, it is more important than ever that each and every dollar spent by the federal government is spent wisely and effectively,” he said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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