Lew: Don't overdo oversight

Agencies shouldn’t have to report their year 2000 progress as often
as Congress might like, said the man nominated to be the next head of the Office of
Management and Budget.


“The greatest immediate challenge is the year 2000 computer problem,” OMB
deputy director Jacob J. Lew told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee during his
confirmation hearing June 22.


Lew disagreed that agencies should report their year 2000 progress more frequently,
something Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.) espouses. “The quarterly reports OMB requires
provide sufficient information to identify problems early so that OMB can focus senior
management attention to fixing them,” he told the committee.


The task of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is to “keep
the agencies focused on priorities so that the critical missions and services ... continue
uninterrupted across the century change,” he said.


Lew has been nominated to replace former OMB Director Franklin D. Raines, who left the
post in May to return to Fannie Mae [GCN, April 20, Page 62].


“At the same time, OMB shares the committee’s concern about the pace of
progress that some agencies are making,” he said. “Therefore, for those agencies
of particular concern … OMB is requiring monthly updates.” Lew told the
committee that writing so many reports takes time needed to fix code.


He also outlined OMB’s role in year 2000 oversight and other issues.


OIRA is coordinating its year 2000 monitoring with the Chief Information Officers
Council, the President’s Council on Year 2000 Conversion, as well as state and local
governments and the private sector, he said.


The OMB director supervises agency spending and manages 500 employees who prepare the
$1.7 trillion federal budget. OMB is also responsible for setting and enforcing government
policy.


Raines was generally respected within the information technology community, industry
sources said. During his reign he oversaw major reforms to the government’s
procurement process.


Raines, however, is perhaps best known for his Raines’ Rules, which included eight
steps to effective management of IT programs.


Lew said OMB is strengthening its oversight and budget reviews of major IT systems. OMB
officials have incorporated Raines’ Rules in guidance documents used by agencies, and
OMB continues to implement the Government Performance Results Act, he said.


As part of the agency’s tracking process, the OMB director receives an update of
major IT investments, including work being done by the CIO Council, he said.


“OIRA’s challenge is to assist all of OMB in using the budget process and to
work through the CIO Council to assure that agency IT investments produce measurable
improvements in mission performance,” Lew told the committee.


Ensuring security for automated systems and the infrastructures that connect them is
essential because the public relies on privacy, Lew said. OIRA and the CIO Council’s
Security Committee are studying ways to protect private data through secure electronic
communications, he said.


Lew, 43, a New York native, is married with two children. He has held various posts at
OMB since October 1994. He was named deputy director in August 1995.


The committee is expected to vote on his nomination at its next mark-up session,
which it not been scheduled. 

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