OMB prepping fiscal 2005 guidance

Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office

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Building on experience from the fiscal 2004 budget process, the Office of Management and Budget already is preparing guidance and tools for agencies in making businesses cases for their fiscal 2005 information technology investments, officials said today.

The 2004 budget is by no means settled, as OMB is still reviewing all the IT requests it doesn't consider robust enough. However, the experience OMB officials are gaining in judging agencies' business cases points the way toward several enhancements for the next cycle.

For one, many agencies are still struggling to make sure IT investments are truly considered as part of their overall capital planning and investment control process, said William McVay, deputy branch chief for IT and policy at OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He was speaking at the Enterprise Architecture in Government Conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Potomac Forum Ltd. and Federal Sources Inc.

Tying IT business cases to the Federal Enterprise Architecture is an important step, but a basic part of business case development is still the justification of the investment within a standard agency process, he said. Because that still seems to be a problem for agencies, OMB likely will emphasize it in the next update to its Circular A-11, which sets out the requirements for all investments. That update should be released in June.

OMB also is ready to release the next version of the Federal Enterprise Architecture business reference model. Agencies used the first version in the fiscal 2004 process to identify areas for collaboration.

The business reference model's new version will be released with the first draft of the performance reference model around the first week of March, said Norm Lorentz, OMB's chief technology officer.

Both models will be crucial to the fiscal 2005 budget process, Lorentz said, noting that in addition to using the business reference model to look across government for areas of collaboration, agencies also will have to start filling out the performance reference model with specific metrics for measuring progress.

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