It ain't easy getting to green

Most agencies making progress, but management goals yet to be achieved

Norm Lorentz said all agencies are making "extraordinary progress" in improving IT security, and all agencies are trying to reduce redundancy in their IT investments.

Henrik G. de Gyor

Only one agency, the National Science Foundation, received a top score in e-government on the quarterly report card released July 15 by the Office of Management and Budget.

But OMB's chief technology officer said several more agencies could get the coveted "green" rating by next July's report card measuring how well agencies are performing on the President's Management Agenda.

The National Science Foundation has gotten to green by "doing everything right," Chief Technology Officer Norm Lorentz said. The agency has developed an enterprise architecture, or modernization blueprint, that is integrated with its information technology budget planning process, and has made "extraordinary" progress in both IT security and in management of its e-gov initiatives, he said.

The quarterly scorecard rates measures the status and progress of 26 departments and agencies in achieving the president's goals in five areas:

  • Human capital, or better work-force planning

  • Competitive sourcing, or subjecting more federal work to public-private competition

  • Financial performance, or improving the accuracy and timeliness of federal financial reports

  • Budget and performance integration, or linking program performance to federal funding

  • E-government, or promoting cross-agency information technology projects that improve service to citizens

Grades are green for success, yellow for mixed results and red for unsatisfactory. No agency stats scores fell from the previous quarter, and nine agencies improved their status scores.

Across the government, most status scores are red, meaning that agencies have not achieved the president's management goals. But most agencies received green scores for their progress toward reaching those goals.

In e-government, the Transportation and Treasury departments and Army Corps of Engineers improved to green, while the Environmental Protection Agency and Small Business Administration fell to yellow.

Lorentz said all agencies are making "extraordinary progress" in improving IT security, and all agencies are trying to reduce redundancy in their IT investments.

With the June 12 update to the business reference model, the foundation of the federal enterprise architecture, agencies "are just now getting the tools that they need in order to be able to do that upfront analysis" that will allow them to cut redundancies by looking at similar investments across government, not just agencywide, Lorentz said.

Over the next year, agencies will increasingly work together to identify common IT solutions. OMB wants agencies to identify cross-agency opportunities during the fiscal 2005 budget process, so OMB doesn't have to identify the opportunities afterward and then use its executive powers to get agencies to work together, Lorentz said.

In addition, agencies are working toward protecting 80 percent of major IT projects from security intrusions by July 1. Currently, about 60 percent of major projects are covered.

The CIO Council also is working with the Office of Personnel Management to create programs that will attract and train project managers to manage major IT projects. All these efforts will help agencies improve their scores, Lorentz said.

"When you look at where people are going to be July 1 [2004], there are going to be a lot of yellows because people have had the necessary tools to make progress," he said.

Only the Department of Homeland Security received red scores in both progress and status in e-government. That's because integrating the IT systems of 22 agencies in the new department while it focuses on services to citizens is "like trying to paint a 747 in full flight," Lorentz said.

The department is actively participating in development of the federal enterprise architecture, and in the near-term can consolidate its human resources and IT infrastructures, he said. *

Staff Writer Gail Repsher Emery can be reached at

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