Administration touts progress in managing tech investments

Federal agencies are planning and managing their information technology investments more effectively, the Office of Management and Budget reported Monday.

"Agencies continue to make progress in establishing effective management practices supporting their IT portfolio," said Karen Evans, OMB's e-government and IT administrator. "Today's report indicates agencies are increasing their own oversight and focus on achieving results for the taxpayers."

OMB cited a decrease over the past seven months in the number of projects on its Management Watch List, which flags investment plans submitted under the 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act that have one or more weaknesses. Projects on the list are targeted for follow-up action to correct planning deficiencies prior to execution.

As of Sept. 30, there were 134 business cases on the Management Watch List, a 61 percent decrease from the 346 cases listed in February. The value of the projects hasn't dropped as substantially. The remaining 134 cases represent a minimum of $8.4 billion in projected IT investments for fiscal 2008, a decrease of $1.3 billion or 13 percent from the $9.7 billion in April.

The number of projects on a separate High Risk List intended to highlight efforts that require attention from top agency managers has increased, growing by 10 percent since February, OMB reported. There are 603 projects on the list, representing at least $15.5 billion in spending for fiscal 2008.

A spot on the High Risk List does not necessarily indicate a project is in danger of failure. In fact, the list's growth is "attributable to increased management oversight reported by agencies," OMB stated. "In other words, we have increasingly better information about the projects."

Observers outside government had a mixed reaction to OMB's announcement.

"I agree that much progress has been made and that OMB gets much of the credit for establishing a rigorous IT governance and oversight structure," said Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer of FedSources, a McLean, Va.-based research and consulting firm. "However, those of us outside the government do not have perfect knowledge of why a program is on the Watch or High Risk lists."

Bjorklund said all OMB criteria for managing investments are important. But finishing programs on time and within budget, and meeting or exceeding requirements, are the best indications of success in oversight of technology investments, he said.

J. Davidson Frame, dean of the University of Management and Technology in Arlington, Va., noted that the administration has been quick to report progress.

"Quality management theory and practice suggests that the most enduring gains in processes arise from continuous improvement over time," Frame said. "Problems in operational performance are usually rooted in a complex of factors. . . . When I see miracle improvements occur very quickly, I wonder whether the improvements are genuine or reflect statistical artifacts."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.