OMB stands firm, alone against governmentwide CIO

OMB stands firm, alone against governmentwide CIO

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

SEPT. 13—Office of Management and Budget officials on Tuesday continued a solitary stance against the creation of a governmentwide chief information officer during a House subcommittee hearing on legislation that would establish the post.

Sally Katzen, deputy director for management at OMB, told members of the Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology that OMB could and should handle the duties proposed for the governmentwide CIO.

Katzen pointed to OMB oversight of year 2000 coding issues before John A. Koskinen came onboard to oversee the project. OMB has access to information needed to oversee the government's large information technology projects and prevent the waste of billions of dollars on systems that won't work, she testified.

Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas), who chairs the subcommittee, asked Katzen why the budgeting office hadn't stopped the IRS and the Federal Aviation Administration from throwing away billions on systems that were obsolete by the time they were implemented.

"No one made the tough decisions," Turner said.

The proposed legislation—Chief Information Officer of the United States Act of 2000 (HR 4670), sponsored by Turner, and the Information Policy Act of 2000 (HR 5024), sponsored by Rep. Thomas M. Davis (R-Va.)—is needed to provide a stronger central focus to the government's management of IT dollars and issues, Dave McClure testified on behalf of the General Accounting Office.

Otto Doll, testifying on behalf of state CIOs, said creating a statewide CIO helped administrators foster communication and cooperation among various information technology units.

Paul E. Rummel, Canada's first governmentwide CIO, said the position helped Canadian bureaucrats cope with a number of IT issues that currently plague U.S. officials.

William L. Scherlis of Carnegie Mellon University supported the creation of the position if it were used to develop "customer-driven services" and to foster stronger ties between technology innovators and federal buyers.

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