Agencies make case for joint projects

OMB Aug. 26 memo

The Office of Management and Budget last week released a list of the first 14 examples of joint business cases proposed by the agencies themselves. The business cases show how multiple agencies can work together to develop funding strategies for cross-agency programs and justify the money they request.

Although every agency involved is already participating in at least one of the 24 cross-agency e-government initiatives started last year, these 14 cases are the first proposed by agencies themselves.

The list includes projects that are already under way, including a system for tracking foreign nationals entering and leaving the country, led by the Justice Department, and an Extensible Markup Language registry, led by the General Services Administration.

The joint business cases play a key role in the Bush administration's e-government strategy. OMB wants to reduce redundant spending on information technology by forcing agencies to collaborate whenever possible to build single systems to meet common needs.

OMB will give priority consideration to multiagency IT investments in the fiscal 2004 budget process, wrote Mark Forman, OMB's associate director of IT and e-government, in an Aug. 6 memo.

The idea of a governmentwide XML registry has been discussed for some time, said Marion Royal, co-chairman of the CIO Council's XML Working Group and GSA's XML expert. The registry will provide a central resource for agencies to use or adapt XML schemas developed by other agencies.

The working group commissioned Booz Allen Hamilton in June to determine if the registry is needed and how best to go about developing it. The firm's draft analysis recommends a federated or distributed approach, in which each agency would maintain its own registry and GSA would tie all the repositories together and help share best practices in developing and using the schemas, Royal said.

"The important thing for us right now is to get a handle on the schemas that are being developed for these cross-agency initiatives," he said.

Other projects on the list, such as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, have been under way for some time. That system was created in 1994 to merge military and civilian environmental satellite programs at three federal agencies (see story, Page 16).

The joint business cases are only the beginning, Forman wrote in an Aug. 26 memo. The administration expects to identify other opportunities for joint business cases when OMB officials review the budget requests agencies submit this month, and they plan to give agencies individual guidance on those opportunities, he wrote.

Each joint business case has a lead agency that submits the final budget request. But partner agencies are expected to reference their contributions in their budget documents, Forman wrote.

He is also asking every agency to review the list of proposed joint business cases (see box) and contact the lead agency on any project they might want to participate in.

To determine which projects could be combined across agencies, officials were expected to use the Federal Enterprise Architecture Business Reference Model, a map of all agency business functions and systems compiled by OMB and released for agency review in July.

***

Proposed joint business cases

Proposal name ... Lead agency

Automated Export Trade Statistics System...Commerce

Electronic Health Record...Defense and Veterans Affairs

Enterprise Resource Planning Solution...USDA

Enterprise Software Licenses...State

Entry/Exit System...Justice

Licensing Support Network...Energy

National Biological Information Infrastructure...EPA

National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System...Commerce

Nuclear Materials Accountability...Energy

Research and Development Portfolio Management Tracking and Reporting...Energy

Trade Negotiations Information Systems...Commerce

U.S. Exports System...Defense

Volunteer.gov...Interior

XML Registry...GSA

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