White House to clarify 'at-risk' IT projects

White House to clarify 'at-risk' IT projects

The Office of Management and Budget in the next few weeks will tell agencies what exactly it means when a project is considered high-risk.

Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for e-government and IT, said the guidance will be for those projects whose problems need to be addressed through the President's Management Scorecard each quarter.

OMB's directive for the first time will clarify high-risk projects. In the past, the administration put projects on the management watch list after their business cases received a score of three out of five or lower, or if it had cyber security problems.

Evans announced the forthcoming guidance today during a hearing on the management watch list held by the House Government Reform Committee.

OMB's management of the watch list came under criticism from the Government Accountability Office at the hearing.

'OMB had not developed a structured, consistent process for deciding how to follow up on corrective actions that its individual analysts asked agencies to take to address weaknesses associated with projects on its management watch List,' said David Powner, GAO's director for IT management issues. 'Because it did not consistently require or monitor follow-up activities, OMB did not know whether project risks that it identified through its management watch list were being managed effectively, potentially leaving resources at risk of being committed to poorly planned and managed projects.'

Evans responded to the criticism by pointing out that agencies are responsible for remediating their projects and have been successful. Through the first two quarters of fiscal 2005, OMB said the number of projects on the list dropped to 248 from 342.

'We work with agencies and offer suggestions, but the agencies must do the hard work to take the corrective actions,' she told lawmakers. 'We follow up with agencies throughout the lifecycle of a project.'

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