OMB will ax billions in redundant IT spending, even as total budget rises

The Office of Management and Budget is on a mission to search out and destroy duplicative spending on information technology products and services.

Although OMB doesn't have a precise figure for redundant IT spending, Mark Forman, OMB's associate director for information technology and e-government, said it's "in the double-digit billions -- more than I imagined."

The administration's budget development process, which requires agencies to present "business cases" justifying IT spending, has already helped OMB identify and eliminate some areas of duplicative spending. For example, the administration's e-payroll initiative will consolidate the federal government's payroll processing providers from 22 to four, saving millions of dollars.

Forman intends to continue this process to eliminate more than $10 billion in redundant spending he said still exists.

"We are going to leverage economies of scale, and we are going to take advantage of more rational approaches with government business," Forman said. "We are not going to fund redundant efforts of IT investment."

But all of the redundant IT systems can't be turned off right away, Forman said. So the administration has focused on three areas:

*Improving service through cross-agency e-government initiatives;

*Consolidating IT investments along common lines of business, such as financial management;

*Consolidating redundant investments in IT infrastructure.

For the 2004 budget, OMB identified redundancies in 35 lines of business. In the next year, it will focus on eliminating these six :

*Financial management, with more than $250 million in projects that can be analyzed for potential savings;

*Data and statistics;

*Human resources, with more than $50 million in systems requests that should be assessed for potential savings;

*Monetary benefits, with an estimated $200 million requiring further assessment;

*Criminal investigations, with an estimated $300 million requiring more assessment;

*Public health monitoring.

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