OMB cracks down on 'low-value' compliance

Shutterstock image (by retrorocket): Cutting red tape. 

The Trump administration has months left before it can show progress on plans to reorganize the federal government, but the Office of Management and Budget hopes to show through one small step that its serious about comprehensive reform.

OMB announced on June 15 that it was rescinding 50 guidance and policy documents deemed "redundant, obsolete or unnecessary," and modifying nine more -- resulting in the savings of potentially tens of thousands of staff hours.

As a practical matter, that means agencies no longer have to file compliance reports and data on a range of topics, from accelerated payment to small businesses to conference spending reporting required in the wake of the 2011 scandal.

The move rescinds seven policy memos requiring continuity plans and readiness reporting for the Y2K bug, which threatened computer systems with outages when the date ticked over from 1999 to 2000.

"Realistically, are people still reporting on these things?" said Linda Springer, OMB's senior adviser for management at a June 15 press briefing. "No. But there is still a requirement out there."

OMB is also doing away with requirements under the Federal Information Security Reform Act of 2002 that were essentially superseded or made obsolete by successor FISMA legislation passed in 2014.

Also targeted for elimination are some of the reporting requirements under the E-Gov Act of 2004. But because those are enshrined in law, new legislation is required and contacts with congressional committees are already taking place.

"The E-Gov Act needs to be reauthorized, Springer said. "We've had initial discussions with staff on the Hill about this. I expect there will be a successor to it," that incudes eliminating outdated reporting requirements.

Career IT leaders had already started efforts to eliminate some of the out-of-date requirements during the last days of the Obama administration as the transition was taking shape. Springer said career employees then carried the ball forward to cover redundancy and duplication in financial management, procurement, performance management and other areas.

"There's no way a political appointee like myself…is going to know the levels of duplication that exist," OMB Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters. "It's going to fall to those career staff. And let's face it, they're as frustrated by bad government as any political appointee from either party."

The OMB memo also takes agencies off the hook for performance management reports to update the website, while the administration lines up new priorities. New performance goals are expected to be put in place in early 2018 in coordination with the 2019 budget request.

However, Springer said that some areas covered under the goals, like security clearance investigation reform, remain high priorities and the subject of cross-agency efforts.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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