CIOs seek to define IT plans

Nonetheless, capital planning will be a Justice priority. Ultimately, Boster said,
Justice will create a process where the CIO reviews IT proposals, approves or rejects them
and passes them on to the investment board for perusal.

 Although plans rejected by the CIO will still go to the review board, Boster said it
is unlikely that a proposal not approved by the CIO would be implemented by the board.

 Gloria Parker, CIO for the Education Department, said her agency is in a position
similar to Justice's. "Independent decisions are being made without regard to an
agencywide IT plan," she said. As a result, organizations waste time duplicating one
another's efforts.

 Parker said Education is taking an aggressive approach to capital planning and
forming an IT investment board and IT investment team to wrestle with new systems

 The IT investment team will look at new proposals to see if they meet Education's
overall mission, will check to see if many agencies within the department need similar
functions and will weigh outsourcing options. The team will report its findings to the IT
board, which will be responsible for approving projects.

 Education's investment board will include the CIO, the chief financial officer, the
department's undersecretaries and the heads of each program office. The board will make
the final decision on whether a new IT program receives funding.

 S.W. "Woody" Hall, CIO at the Energy Department, said DOE views capital
planning as part of a larger strategy. "We have common themes for large IT," he
said. "It's more of a conglomerate than anything."

Hall said capital planning is essentially a matter of using common sense. "I feel
like we've got a good start," he said.

 Although IT review boards will add another level of management to an already slow
government buying process, the CIOs at the conference deem them necessary.

 "We need these boards," Parker said. "We are spending $1 billion on
IT with no justification. If somebody takes the time to review these proposals, then it
could be reduced to $700 million. That is a huge savings just by putting the process in
place." She said the time the board takes to review projects would not delay buying.

 Boster acknowledged that the new review system adds a layer of bureaucracy. But he
said the value the boards could add to the process would be worth it.

 The added bureaucracy in Energy would be limited, Hall said. "Our senior people
don't have time for bureaucracy. We have reduced our spending from $2 billion to $1.5
billion in the last few years. Some of that is because of downsizing but it's also
to a smarter process." 

Reed said USDA's executive review board works parallel to other budget review boards.
"We did not add a level to the process," she said. "It works in sync with
what we already have." 

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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