OMB to expand guidance for watch list projects

The Office of Management and Budget expects to release within two weeks further guidance for agencies on management of high-risk IT projects, said Karen Evans, OMB's administrator for e-government and IT.

The memo will list factors for which agencies have to report progress related to a specific IT project or their IT portfolio on OMB's management watch list. The information OMB requests will enable it to more closely monitor agencies' corrective activities. The guidance will be targeted at those projects that require quarterly reporting as part of the President's Management Agenda scorecard.

'We are looking at a series of factors associated with projects and programs that will complement what we already have on the agency watch list, and asking for additional information so we can continue to monitor the high-risk projects,' Evans told a conference this week on project management sponsored by the Council for Excellence in Government.

The government will spend about $65 billion on IT in fiscal 2006, she said. 'We really don't want to have $100 million, $200 million, $400 million projects that we have to stop,' she said, referring to the FBI's Virtual Case File system and Veterans Affairs Department's Core Financial and Logistics System, both of which were shelved during the past year. 'We just can't keep throwing dollars at these projects. They have to achieve their results.'

The guidance will also give clearer definition as to what constitutes risk. For example, not having a certified project manager could be a factor.

OMB provides agencies with communications, guidance and management mentoring when their IT projects become high risk so the agencies can ultimately succeed, Evans said. In the past, OMB put projects on the management watch list after their business cases received a score of three out of five or lower, or if they had cybersecurity problems, Evans told a congressional hearing in April. Lawmakers faulted OMB then for not consistently monitoring agencies' corrective activities that would remove them from the watch list.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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