Daniels leaves legacy of IT reform as well as coordination on funding

Mitchell E. Daniels, who will leave his post as OMB director June 4, is expected to make a run for the Indiana governorship.

Tom Fedor

Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. spent the last two-and-a-half years restoring the Office of Management and Budget's clout with agencies. As director of OMB, he gave Mark Forman and other leaders the backing to transform how the government manages its IT, money and people.

Daniels, who announced earlier this month that he will resign effective June 4, is widely regarded by many federal observers as a key factor in the success Forman has achieved in reforming the way agencies plan, implement and pay for IT systems.

'The reason Mark has been so successful is his ability to influence budget decisions, and that authority is derived from the director,' said Phil Kiviat, a partner with Guerra, Kiviat, Flyzik and Associates of Oak Hill, Va., and a longtime federal IT consultant.

Empowering Forman

'Since the enactment of the e-government law, Mark has independent statutory authority, so Mark may not need as much support from the next director as he got from Mitch Daniels. The most important thing Mitch Daniels did was empower Mark,' Kiviat added.

Daniels has been a major force behind the President's Management Agenda and paid close attention to how agencies requested and spent IT funds. He advocated better business cases for IT investments and clamped down on redundant technology spending by issuing four letters authorizing OMB to reallocate funds that agencies were spending poorly, a power the office has under the Clinger-Cohen Act.

Run for office

Daniels likely will run for governor of Indiana, according to published reports. He has been considering the move for some time, said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America of Arlington, Va.

Miller said agencies knew Forman was speaking for Daniels when he pushed and prodded agencies to justify their IT investments.

Forman credited Daniels with having the biggest impact on the management of the federal government in more than 20 years.

'Mitch figured out and focused us on key elements,' Forman said. 'It takes a director not just of budget, but one of management and budget to understand how this all fits together.'

Forman said the new director will face the same challenge: 'Mitch set the bar high, but I anticipate that the next person will come in and build on what Mitch created.'

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