IT Reform: OMB Overhauls IT Investment Reporting

CIO Council


Last week, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) finalized new guidance on reporting IT investments. As required by the IT Reform Plan, the new framework is designed to increase the relevance of IT investment data, better align budget with management processes, improve data quality, and reduce the reporting burden on agencies. Specifically, Point 21 of the IT Reform Plan tasks OMB with revising guidance for Exhibits 53 and 300 (budget submission documents) “to clarify objectives, give agencies adequate time to assemble strong responses, and improve data quality.” The Plan also calls for OMB and agencies to evaluate how IT programs are reviewed, so that bud­get execution for large IT programs is tied to key implementation steps rather than seemingly upfront, wholesale approval of massive programs.

The new reporting tools will help agencies move to modular development by requiring them to monitor whether investment teams are delivering improved results to users on a regular basis in order to ensure tangible outcomes, learn from experience, and adjust plans accordingly. The reporting tools will offer the flexibility to provide more timely and detailed information on how Federal IT programs are closing performance gaps in the present.

New Framework Will Drive Transparency, Accountability

Under the new framework, agencies will continue to report summary investment data needed for budget decisions much as before, and this data will be maintained on the IT Dashboard. The more detailed and timely tracking of development execution will be displayed in a new version of the Dashboard released during FY 2012. The substantially updated structures for IT investment reporting are described in official guidance regarding agencies’ FY 2013 Budget submissions for information technology, in guidance for the redesigned Exhibit 53A-B and Exhibit 300A-B.

Together, these substantial enhancements to transparency and accountability will dramatically improve the Federal Government’s ability to manage the $80 billion of taxpayer dollars spent each year on IT. The new framework will also facilitate the public engagement needed to reinforce government accountability by focusing attention on the most critical elements of large-scale IT performance management.