Congress wants details on how agencies will spend their 2007 funds

A Joint Resolution requires every agency except DOD and DHS to submit an operating plan to the House and Senate Appropriations committees before spending any money this year.

Most agencies have until March 15 to tell Congress how they will spend their fiscal 2007 funds.Under the Joint Resolution passed Feb. 15, lawmakers required every agency except the Defense and Homeland Security departments to submit an operating plan at a level of detail below the account level to the House and Senate Appropriations committees before spending any money this year.And those documents also will help chief information officers figure out where their much-reduced information technology dollars will be spent, two administration officials said.Environmental Protection Agency CIO Molly O’Neill said today that the EPA is working on the plan, which the Chief Financial Officer’s Office and program managers are developing.Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget’s administrator for IT and e-government, added that agencies will have to balance their appropriations against the Bush administration’s priorities.Despite the cut in her agency’s funding, O’Neill said the EPA is moving forward with several priorities.Scott Charbo, DHS’ CIO, also detailed his agency’s priorities, focusing mainly on five areas:    * Keeping bad people out of the United States.    * Keeping bad things out of the United States.    * Protecting the infrastructure and systems.    * Emergency response management.    * DHS management.He said IT is marbled throughout each of those priorities, with programs such as Secure Border-Net, cargo scanning, interoperability grants for infrastructure defense or emergency preparedness, and improving DHS’ consolidation of its back-office infrastructure.“We are putting our top attention to our data centers, networks and e-mail consolidation,” Charbo said today at a panel discussion on the 2008 budget in Bethesda, Md., sponsored by the Bethesda chapter of AFCEA. “A lot of my staff’s performance metrics are based on those three projects.”The EPA will analyze the best way to optimize the use of its servers to save energy.“If we have servers that are not operating at full capacity, we could try to find savings,” O’Neill said. “We are making sure we are not purchasing new servers when others are underutilized.”She said she hopes to have this analysis and optimization work at least partially done this year.She also is looking at how the EPA can make better use of its enterprise architecture and improve state, local and tribal governments’ access and the public’s access to its data.“This is our year to push our [enterprise architecture] and leverage the ‘build once, use many’ approach,” she said. “We will force owners of programs as they modernize to know about all the shared services that are available as approved under” the enterprise architecture.The EPA also is integrating its records management system with its e-mail system. O’Neill said the first phase is under way. It will let employees automatically file records electronically. Eventually, the system will let employees search their records by subject or date, she added.Evans said an administration priority is finalizing the President’s Identity Theft Task Force’s recommendations. She said they are going through final review now.“One big issue is the use of employee Social Security numbers as their job identification,” Evans said. “Should we have a separate employee identification number? Many agencies are looking at that now.”
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