Streamline Governance and Improve Accountability
To strengthen IT governance, we need to improve line-of-sight between project teams and senior executives, increase the precision of ongoing measurement of IT program health, and boost the quality and timing of interventions to keep projects on track. These improvements will both boost the efficiency of project oversight and better manage programs in distress.
Our strategy for strengthening IT governance centers on driving agency adoption of the “TechStat” model currently used at the Federal level. TechStat Accountability Sessions are face-to-face, evidence-based reviews of agency IT programs with OMB and agency leadership. Using data from the Federal IT Dashboard, investments are carefully analyzed with a focus on problem-solving that leads to concrete action to improve performance.
TechStats have led to accelerated deliverables, budget reductions, and project terminations. Results include:
- $3 billion reduction in lifecycle costs
- Average acceleration of deliverables from over 24 months to 8 months
Our goal is to scale this capability across the Federal Government, increasing the number of programs that can be reviewed and hastening the speed at which interventions occur. Through this strategy, we aim to enable agencies to grow their own performance management standards and focus OMB direct involvement on a limited number of highest-priority cases.
Reform and strengthen Investment Review Boards
Investment Review Boards (IRBs) were created to control and evaluate the results of all major IT investments. In practice, these review boards have frequently failed to adequately manage the IT program portfolio by establishing successful projects or taking corrective action. Today, typical IRB meeting agendas currently set aside two hours to review the entire IT portfolio, far too little time to adequately review dozens of technical projects. These IRBs will be restructured according to the “TechStat” model.
Revamp IT Budget Submissions
OMB Exhibits 53 and 300 have come to support stand-alone processes to request and justify funding rather than serving as management tools for monitoring program health. In many cases, these documents are prepared in large part by third-party contractors and there is minimal involvement by agency executives and program managers.
These exhibits will be revamped to better align them to agency budgeting and management processes, make them more relevant and useful, and ensure they promote the use of modular development principles. The improved exhibits will also alleviate reporting burden, increase data accuracy, and serve as the authoritative management tool.
By May of 2011, OMB will reconstruct the 300s and 53s around distinct data elements that drive value for agencies and provide the information necessary for meaningful oversight. The timing of these elements will be separated into distinct streams to clarify objectives, give agencies adequate time to assemble strong responses, and improve data quality. These streams will include:
- Budget justification for new major Development, Modernization and Enhancement (DME) investments, significant re-engineering of existing DME investments, and annual re-justification of DME investments.
- Health monitoring of existing DME investments and Operations and Maintenance (O&M)
- Portfolio governance to ensure the IT portfolio and individual projects are consistent with the agency mission and Federal policy objectives
Importantly, OMB and agencies must evaluate the way in which IT programs are reviewed so that budget approval for large IT programs is tied to key implementation steps rather than seemingly upfront, wholesale approval of massive programs. . OMB will evaluate ways to ensure agencies can demonstrate strong performance in earlier modules in order to receive approval for funding of subsequent modules.
Rollout “TechStat” model department-wide
By March 2011, OMB will work with Agency CIOs and other agency leaders to stand up the “TechStat” model at the departmental level. Steps include:
- OMB will assist agencies in designing tools and enforcing their use, to provide the transparency required for the “TechStat” model to be effective
- OMB analysts will provide in-person training to Agency CIOs in “TechStat” methodology including accountability guidelines, engagement cadence, evaluation processes, and reporting processes.
- Agency leaders will lead, sponsor, and manage the process within their departments
Redefine role of Agency CIOs and Federal CIO Council
Currently, Agency CIOs and the Federal CIO Council spend a majority of their mindshare on policymaking and maintaining IT infrastructure. As we move forward with the IT reforms, CIO focus must shift towards portfolio management. This shift will be encouraged by activities such as the restructuring of the Investment Review Boards. Similarly, agencies will be increasingly freed from low-value activities (e.g., building redundant infrastructure) as they adopt technologies such as cloud computing.
- Agency CIOs will be responsible for managing the portfolio of large IT projects within their agencies. This portfolio management role will include continuously identifying unmet needs to be addressed by new projects, terminating or turning around poorly performing projects, and retiring IT investments which no longer meet the needs of the organization. Steps will include:
- As described above, Agency CIOs will take on responsibility for the “TechStat” governance process within their agencies as of March 2011.
- Agencies will turnaround or terminate at least one-third of poorly performing projects in their portfolio within the next 18 months. The Federal CIO Council will play a similar portfolio management role, but at a cross-agency level. Within six months, the Federal CIO Council will periodically review the highest priority “TechStat” findings assembled by the Agency CIOs. These reviews will enable CIOs to share best practices and common sources of failure to improve success rates over time.
Rollout “TechStat” model at bureau-level
Once cemented at the agency level, the “TechStat” model will be deployed at the bureau-level to ensure the effective management of large programs. Within 18 months, Agency CIOs, in collaboration with other agency leaders, will be responsible for deploying the tools and training necessary to ensure rollout has been completed.
Work with Congress to scale flexible IT budget models more broadly
Within 12 months, OMB will engage several agencies to work with Congress to launch flexible IT budget models where appropriate. As pilot agencies demonstrate success with flexible IT budget models on selected programs, OMB will continue to work with Congress to scale flexible budget models across major IT programs government-wide.