President Bush gives special focus to IT investments

President Bush gives special focus to IT investments

President Bush made it clear today with the release of his fiscal 2004 budget proposal that his administration will continue to push agencies hard to justify their IT investments.

Agencies should expect the Office of Management and Budget to tighten the screws on oversight during the next 12 months with a continued emphasis on improving cybersecurity, seeking business cases that are more closely aligned with federal enterprise architecture plans and, most importantly, specifying metrics to gauge performance.

The Bush administration requested $59.1 billion for IT projects next year, including $37 billion for agencies' mission projects and $21 billion for office automation and infrastructure initiatives. The overall request represents more than a 14 percent increase over the request for this year. OMB is targeting much of the boost to cybersecurity, the federal enterprise architecture effort and domestic defense projects [see story at].

'Much of the $60 billion is misspent, and much of it is spent in an uncoordinated way,' OMB director Mitchell E. Daniels said. 'We have used the authority Congress gave us to stop a variety of programs until they prove they, first of all, have a sound business case and will return greater productivity in their investments, and secondly, they will enhance integration and coordinate inside the federal government and not make bad problems worse.'

OMB found while preparing the budget request that the greatest problem for agencies is identifying how systems perform when compared against cost, schedule and mission improvement goals. A sample comparison of 2003 and 2004 budget requests found cost and schedule overruns ranged from 10 percent to 225 percent.

Agencies have until Sept. 30 to begin using an earned-value management system, a standard method that industry uses to track cost and schedule components. Departments also will have to file reports comparing their 2004 business cases with those they will submit for 2005, OMB noted in the budget proposal that Bush sent to Capitol Hill.

To get better business cases and eliminate project duplication, OMB said, agencies will need to submit more joint-project cases with their 2005 budget requests. The budget proposal for next year also noted that OMB found almost 20 percent of IT requests could have been made as joint submissions.

OMB also said it seemed unlikely that all agencies would meet the October deadline for the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, which directs agencies to make its transactions available electronically. OMB estimated that 52 percent of 5,800 paper transactions would be available electronically by the fall.


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