CIO Council issues IT investment guide

Agencies implementing capital planning processes for systems investments
need to develop well-rounded approaches, the Chief Information Officers Council

Agencies that have already rolled out capital planning processes generally have not
used integrated approaches, the council said in a new report, Implementing Best Practices:
Strategies at Work.

The council’s Capital Planning and Information Technology Investment Committee
developed the best-practices guide and posted it on the Web at

The IT Management Reform Act requires that agencies establish capital planning

The General Accounting Office has recommended that agencies use its select, control and
evaluate model, which is designed to establish a high-level, structured approach to
managing IT investments.

The management of IT as a capital investment is not a linear process, said Shereen
Remez, the General Services Administration’s CIO and co-chairwoman of the council

Most agencies have been successful in focusing on the selection of IT projects, she
said. Many agencies also have set up investment review boards, most of which involve
agency senior executives, Remez said.

Some agencies are also developing specific criteria for selecting IT investments.

“Now we need to turn our attention to lifecycle management,” she said.
“You need to have control right at the beginning.”

She suggested agencies begin the control and evaluation work early in the process,
simultaneous with project selection.

The committee’s report includes a review of capital planning pilot programs at the
Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, GSA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
and the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Housing and Urban
Development and State.

The CIO Council based some of its earlier best-practice recommendations on the pilots.
“They were so early, we didn’t call them best practices. We called them first
practices,” she said.

The new guide focuses on how the pilots worked out, Remez said.

The committee found that agencies need to improve document practices so that they can
be used again when appropriate. In many cases, agencies had no process for tracking their
investments, Remez said.

“You can’t tinker with the process until you have a process,” she said.

Nearly 20 agencies have signed up to use the IT Investment Portfolio System. I-TIPS is
a basic system plan for tracking IT buys as capital investments. But Remez said no system
can do the hard work of establishing processes, creating investment review boards and
building communications between IT chiefs and senior agency executives.

“I-TIPS is a great system and it helps,” she said, “but you still have
to do it organizationally.”  

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