Letter: Agencies should reward savings in business case development

Regarding "Agencies mixed on meeting OMB's goals": It's not surprising that development of business cases is one of the harder criteria to achieve.  Business analysts are trained in processes such as the Philipps methodology to document [return on investment] for a business case.  The government has several barriers to overcome to deliver business cases that fall into a common operating picture that uses a recognized standard.

The overriding issue is that ROI to make a business case is anathema to the funding process for public agencies.  If I want to do a project for a private company, I build a case case showing ROI amount and the timeline. The BOD or other approving authority makes a GO/NO GO decision and we are off.

What does an agency such as the DOI do to justify a project?  If you use the cost-saving approach someone in the government food chain will be appreciative and not only will allow you to hang your yourself and your budget by that rope, they will ask for all the money you are going to save in five years back  "right NOW."

The only federal agency I have personally worked with that does not suffer this common indignity is the BEP.  Mainly due to their finance work breakdown structure.

In the ongoing rush to redefine the Federal Financial Enterprise perhaps someone should be looking at how to reward an agency for developing real cost-savings business cases to support their enterprise initiatives.

The other and harder problem is where do you get the people to build the business cases? It takes a certain skill, developed through practice and training to be able to develop a business case.  Most of the people who are good at this are employed and well-compensated in the private sector.

Another challenge for the best government in the world, and quite achievable.  We conquered the IT bogeyman with the CIO initiative, this is just another challenge.

Bob McPherson,
Norfolk, Va.

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