Agencies push toward portfolio management for lines of businesses

As agencies prepare their fiscal 2008 budget submissions, the Office of Management and Budget is expecting fewer business cases and more use of portfolio management, according to one federal CIO.

Lisa Schlosser, Housing and Urban Development Department IT chieftain, said the consolidation of business cases into lines of business portfolios is one of a handful of trends that are emerging in agencies.

'We had 13 systems for single-family mortgages that all had their own business cases, and we merged them into one last year,' Schlosser said yesterday at the Performance Institute's 8th Annual Government Performance Summit in Washington. 'More and more, we have to ask what businesses align with the technology within the line of business. OMB will be looking for more of that.'

Schlosser said the impetus to use portfolio management may not be entirely new, but the push by OMB to spend more money on mission-critical systems and less on infrastructure applications is making it more important.

HUD, for instance, has 10 lines of business, meaning it likely will submit 10 business cases this year. It used to submit to OMB upwards of 24.

'It was amazing to see how many redundant systems we have,' she said. 'It is a great exercise to go through.'

As agencies spend less on infrastructure, they will shift money toward business systems. HUD, Schlosser said, will increase the amount of money spent on mission-critical applications to 56 percent of its 2006 IT budget, up from 39 percent in 2005.

Schlosser said her agency did that, in part, by outsourcing its human resources and financial management services to agency centers of excellence.

In another trend Schlosser is seeing, CIOs are staying longer in their positions. On average, most stay about 18 months, but Schlosser said many are staying longer.

Because of that, she said, many IT managers are focusing on longer-term issues such as how projects are mapped to agency strategic plans throughout their lifecycles, and the control and evaluation part of the capital planning process.

'We are focused on results and performance,' she said. 'It is a real different evolution of where IT is going.'

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