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OMB Policy Statements
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OMB Policy Statements 2003

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  • December 2003

    Report: OMB a Great Place to Work

    OMB to Lay Out New E-Gov Projects

    Officials Pleased to See Cybersecurity Progress

    Gov’t Cybersecurity Receives "D" in Report

    E-Gov Act of 2002 One Year Old

    OMB Eyes 2004 As Breakthrough Year for E-Gov

    OMB: Thousands of Gov’t Jobs Could Be Outsourced

  • November 2003

    OMB Advances PART Initiative

    The Budget Deficit and Economic Growth

    A-76 Contracting Out Issue Resolved

    OMB Pushes for Full EEOC Funding

    OMB Tests New E-Government Program

  • October 2003

    OMB Estimate Of Deficit Overestimated

    OMB/GSA E-Authentication Program In Trouble

    OMB's Statements On the Benefits Of EPA Regulations

    OMB Acts On Security For Commercial Software
    OMB is considering expanding reviews made on commercial software used for defense and intelligence agencies to other domestic agencies. The reviews would be conducted by the National Information AssurancerPartnership.

    "One thing they will consider is to what extent, if any, NIAP can address the continuing problem of security flaws in commercial software products,” Evans said. “This review will include lessons learned from the implementation of the Defense Department’s July 2002 policy requiring the acquisition of products reviewed under the NIAP evaluation process.” .

  • Click to read article.
  • OMB Initiates E-Grants
    As part of its e-government program, OMB has initiated an e-grants program, In November all agencies will have to announce information on their grants in a common format.

    "Starting Nov. 7, agencies will post all grant opportunity announcements on www.grants.gov, the Office of Management and Budget directed today."

  • Click to read article.
  • OMB Reviewing USDA Canadian Cattle Rule
    USDA has submitted to OMB a proposed rule which would allow Canadian cattle to enter the US. Canadian cattle were banned from this country over concern for mad cow disease.

    "The U.S. banned all Canadian beef and cattle in May when a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease, was discovered there. The USDA eased the ban on some boneless beef products on Aug. 8, but said it would not be able to do the same for live cattle until the department went through a full rule-making process.

    The proposed rule, as written by the USDA, seeks to not only allow entry of Canadian live cattle under 30 months of age, but would also do away with the individual permits that Canadian exporters need for each shipment of boneless beef products.

    One industry official suggested that the latest BSE discovery by Japan in a 23-month-old bull may affect deliberation over the USDA proposed rule because it assumes all cattle under 30 months of age cannot spread the disease."

  • Click to read article.
  • OMB Implements Privacy Provisions of E-Government Act
    The E-Government Act contained a blueprint for updating goverment IT systems to make them in line with impoving the goods and services produced by the US government.

    With E-government also comes the concern for providing privacy to the beneficiaries of such services. OMB has jut acted to address this important objective.

    "The privacy objective of the E-Government Act complements the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace,” Bolten said. “As the National Strategy indicates, cyberspace security programs that strengthen protections for privacy and other civil liberties, together with strong privacy policies and practices in the federal agencies, will ensure that information is handled in a manner that maximizes both privacy and security.”

    "OMB said agencies must conduct the privacy analysis when developing or procuring IT systems that collect, maintain or disseminate information in an identifiable form from or about members of the public, or initiating a new electronic collection of information for 10 or more persons."

  • Click to read article.
  • OMB Establishes Debt Reduction Program For TVA
    The TVA has a staggering $26.5 billion debt. The government does not want to pick up the tab for another undisciplined program. Consequently, OMB has established a debt reduction program for the agency.

    Last week, TVA, an independent federal agency, provided a tentative strategic plan that included debt reduction by as much as $5 billion over the next 10-12 years.

    "There's certainly more of a target than we had before, so it is certainly a step in the right direction," said Marcus Peacock, OMB's associate director for natural resource programs."

  • Click to read article.
  • Senate Slippage On Appropriations Bills--Continuing Resolution In Play
    The Senate has not met its deadlines for acting on appropriation bills.

    "The Senate approved a month-long continuing resolution Thursday by voice vote, clearing it for the president's signature after House passage, 407-8, earlier in the day."

    With the cost of the Iraq war having both budget and political consequences, it is likely there will be one overall spending bill this year.

    "When the Senate reconvenes Oct. 14 after a weeklong recess, remaining fiscal 2004 appropriations bills could be wrapped into a catch-all, omnibus measure, while leaders focus on enactment of the administration's request for an $87 billion Iraq supplemental spending bill."

  • Click to read article.
  • OMB's Smart Buy Software Initiative
    "The Office of Management and Budget introduced SmartBuy in February in the fiscal 2004 budget request, and it named GSA as the federal executive agent this summer. SmartBuy’s purpose is to drive down the cost of enterprise licensing and improve the terms agencies receive from software vendors. OMB issued guidance to agencies in August asking them to freeze new or renewal software licenses unless approved by the SmartBuy team."

    However, Members of Congress are concerned about progress to date.

    "In view of interest expressed by industry and agencies, GSA officials had said they would finish a few agreements before Oct. 1, the beginning the new federal fiscal year. Putnam said he was concerned that agencies would be forced to renew licenses under more expensive terms."

  • Click to read article.
  • GAO, OMB And The Privacy Act
    OMB has jurisdictional management of the Privacy Act; GAO reports on agency performance. There has been a long standing debate as to whether OMB is accordingly a sufficiently high priority to the Privacy Act. In its most recent report the GAO concluded:

    "In the report, Privacy Act: OMB Leadership Needed to Improve Agency Compliance, the GAO writes that compliance with the federal Privacy Act of 1974 is generally high in many areas, but uneven across the federal government. “As a result of this uneven compliance, the government cannot adequately assure the public that all legislated individual privacy rights are being protected,” the GAO concludes."

  • Click to read article.
  • Environmental Rules: OMB States That Benefits Greatly Exceed Costs
    Each year OMB prepares a report on the benefits and costs of government regulations. A subset of the analysis is a comparison of the benefits and costs of environmental regulations. The most recent OMB report contains the following conclusions:

    "The value of reductions in hospitalization and emergency room visits, premature deaths and lost workdays resulting from improved air quality were estimated between $120 billion and $193 billion from October 1992 to September 2002.

    By comparison, industry, states and municipalities spent an estimated $23 billion to $26 billion to retrofit plants and facilities and make other changes to comply with new clean-air standards, which are designed to sharply reduce sulfur dioxide, fine particle emissions and other health-threatening pollutants."

  • Click to read article.
  • GAO Sounds Budget Alarm
    In an unusual statement, the head of GAO offered a "state-of-the-budget" message at the National Press Club. Although he has no statutory requirement to make such a statement, he issued, this year, a clear warning to the Congress and the Administration.

    "In spite of all of the happy talk that has been used by elected officials over the past few years, Walker said the federal budget picture "is not good and [is] getting worse." He added that we should not be confused by all of the numbers being used because "they are all big, and they are all bad!"

    In sharp contrast to the spin that many in Washington have been using, Walker insisted that "there is little question that deficits do matter, especially if they are large, structural and recurring in nature," which he said is the current situation. Nor did he distinguish between deficits caused by tax cuts and those caused by spending increases, as many have been asking us to do lately."

  • Click to read article.
  • Savings Associated With E-Government
    As reported elsewhere on his website, we are of the opinion that e-government projects need not necessarily prove a reduction is cost. Our concerns were twofold, one, that e-government programs will often increase the level of service, and(2) force agencies into unusual arithmetic.

    "Kay Coles James, the OPM director, told Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Government Reform technology subcommittee, that the projects "would yield $2.7 billion in tax savings over the life of the initiatives."

    When Putnam asked about the potential savings, James acknowledged that "some people don't think they pass the straight-face test," but predicted that most of the $2.7 billion would be achieved through the elimination of redundant systems scattered among federal agencies."

  • Click to read article.
  • OFPP Vacancy And The Fate Of A-76 Revisions
    With the departure of the Administrator of OFPP, concerns are being raised whether A-76 is jeopardy. A-76, the contracting out bulletin, is the target of Congressional actions to shelve it.

    "It’s important that the administration replace Styles soon, said Olga Grkavac of the Information Technology Association of America.

    “We don’t want to lose a forceful proponent who is opposing these restrictions,” said Grkavac, executive vice president of the Arlington, Va., trade group"

    OMB's E-Government Brain Drain
    With the departure of not less than three key individuals associated with the Presidents E-government project, questions are being raised as to whether the program is being crippled.

    "This OMB has truly institutionalized the kind of initiatives that Forman and Lorentz and others" oversaw, he said, including business case analysis, establishing a blueprint for enterprise architecture and e-government plans. "They have institutionalized them to a point where all the career civil servant workers know exactly what has to be done."

    DigitalNet's William McVay, a former deputy to Forman at OMB, said "brain-drain" concerns are unfair. He said that there are "no less than 100 people" working at OMB on e-government initiatives along with many more at the agency level. "So it certainly isn't something that one person or two people put in place or run," he said."

  • Click to read article.
  • OMB Publishes Final Cost Benefit Report To Congress
    "Informing Regulatory Decisions: 2003 Report to Congress on the Costs and Benefits of Federal Regulations and Unfunded Mandates on State, Local, and Tribal Entities" is now available in final form after public comment on a draft version. OMB prepared this important document on regulatory policy under the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. It includes estimates of the total costs and benefits of regulations reviewed by OMB, and an OMB review of regulations related to Homeland Security. Perhaps most important, it includes a revised OMB Circular A-4 on cost benefit and other regulatory analysis. Federal agencies will be expected to follow this guidance when they perform regulatory analysis under Executive Order 12866 and under the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act. OMB's guidance emphasizes that the data and analyses agencies use to support their rules under Executive Order 12866 and the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act must comply with the Data Quality Act and Guidelines. Circular A-4 at page 161 states that it "defines OMB's minimum quality standards for regulatory anlaysis."


  • Click for OMB's 2003 Cost Benefit Report to Congress.
  • OMB And Small Business IT Procurements
    OMB has taken many steps to improve IT procurements by small business.

    "Reports by Congress, OMB and the Small Business Administration generally acknowledge that this difficult environment for small business in federal procurement has two principal sources: continued emphasis on contract bundling by agency procurement officials; and the exclusion of certain federal agencies from fair and open competition requirements in order to achieve faster, cheaper or less transparent procurements.

    For example, nearly a year ago OMB proposed nine steps to reduce contract bundling and open more procurement opportunities to small business. There is significant disagreement over whether the regulations would decrease or actually increase bundling. The proposal would, for example, provide a dollar threshold below which bundling would not require an agency to justify the bundle."

    It is unlikely that OMB, nor the Congress, will decrease this downward trend because agencies budgets are too tight to utilize additional time to supervise an ever increasing number of contracts.

  • Click to read article.
  • OD On Senate Confirmations?
    OMB is attempting to speed up the Senate confirmation process. One way to do so is to reduce the number individuals who are confirmed. To this end, OMB is suggesting that its CFO need not be confirmed.

    "OMB officials have suggested that Senate approval of CFOs might not be essential, Springer explained. Eliminating this requirement would speed up the appointment process for the position. An exception would be made for departments in which the CFO also serves as an undersecretary or secretary, as is the case at the Defense Department, she noted. "

  • Click to read article.
  • OMB Competitive Sourcing Program In Trouble
    OMB's program to compete select federal jobs with private sector employees is facing continued opposition--this time from the Congress. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

    "The latest setback came Tuesday night. House members, including 26 Republicans, passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that would block the Office of Management and Budget from using newly revised rules designed to speed up the job competitions government-wide. The language, which so far is not in the Senate's version of the bill, would force a return to an older, more cumbersome version of rules known as Circular A-76 -- a move opponents said could cripple Bush's policy.

    "If this were to become law, the union agenda will have succeeded, which is to stop competition," said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, a contractor group."

  • Click to read article.
  • OMB Adds Four New Cases To E-Gov Project
    OMB has added four joint business cases to the e-government project. These cases are added on the basis of potential duplication among agencies.

    "Earlier this summer, OMB analyzed six lines of business where they suspected system duplication among agencies. Officials decided on four areas—public health monitoring, criminal investigation, human resources administration and financial management—where agencies should submit joint business cases."

  • Click to read article.
  • Congress Moves To Block OMB's Competitive Outsourcing Program
    Some Members of Congress with a large number of Federal employees in their districts are going to sponsor amendments to appropriation bills which would terminate the program to outsource federal jobs for which the private sector could handle less expensively. Not surprising, a number of federal employs oppose this amendment but can not do so in an open manner. The White House is considering a veto.

    "Unless the House keeps out an amendment that critics say "would effectively shut down" the Bush administration initiative, the Office of Management and Budget will recommend that Bush vetoes the bill."

  • Click to read article.
  • The Cost of 9/11
    It is impossible to calculate the human cost of 9/11. However, what are the fiscal costs? Estimates differ but one thing that it is certain, one attack was extremely costly. in the billions of dollars.

    A subsequent attack(s), even to a lesser degree will be costly. Should such an event(s) occur, the pocketbook of every American will suffer. At that time, their may be even more support for a direct counter attack against terrorism.

  • Click to read article
  • The Associated General Contractors request that OMB deny the FCC request for clearance
    The Associated General Contractors request that OMB deny the FCC request for clearance, under the Paperwork Reduction Act, of its rule on unsolicited faxes.

    They state:

    "These regulations have the potential to undo well established business relationships," said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC CEO. "The FCC has grossly underestimated the number of U.S. businesses and the amount of time and money that it would take to comply. In just a short amount of time, AGC has spent a minimum of 2,400 hours to obtain consent forms from our members, and we haven't even made a dent."

    The FCC's new rules would require every business to obtain the prior, written, and signed consent of anyone, including any other business, to whom that business would like to send any fax that met the commission's broad definition of an "advertisement." The FCC modified the exemption for established business relationships meaning that a business may not send a fax that either solicits or makes an offer to do business to any other business, whatever their prior dealings, without first obtaining the recipient's written, signed permission."

  • Click to read article
  • OMB Applauds Agency Performance On The President's Management Program
    The Bush Administration has embarked on an ambitious program to improve the efficiency of the government. OMB has reviewed agency progress and has applauded their efforts.

    "As the federal government enters the third year of work on e-government, competitive sourcing, budget and performance integration, human capital management and financial improvement, Johnson, the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director for management, said agencies are setting the pace in meeting OMB’s requirements."

  • Click to read article
  • The Administration's Record On Workplace Safety
    We are entering the Presidential election season and we are already in the judging the Administration's performance debate. The Administration will be judged from a number of directions. Fair enough, how can one argue against an informed electorate. Nonetheless, it is important to review such assessments from a position of "show me the facts".

    Consider the assessment done around labor day regarding workplace safety. One observer noted:

    "Nor did they discuss the administration's record on workplace safety overturning the long-sought ergonomics injury standard, halting action on 30 additional safety initiatives, and canceling federal safety and health grants. The nonpartisan OMB Watch concluded that the administration has "advanced very few significant health, safety and environmental protections . . . and is quietly scuttling work on a host of protective standards in the regulatory pipeline."

    This Administration has taken every step to ensure that regulations are effective and at the same time not being onerous. We doubt this hardly could be characterized as "scuttling".

  • Click to read article
  • OMB Names New E-Gov Chief
    New OMB E-Gov Chief Karen Evans, a highly respected member of the Federal IT community has been named Administrator of OMB's Office of Electronic Govermement in OMB. She will assume the position recently vacated my Mark Forman. Ms. Hughes has served in a leadership position at the CIO Council.

    He went on to say that having Evans in this position is "probably going to strengthen the role of the CIO." In the early years of the Forman tenure, there was a palpable level of tension between the federal CIO Council, on which Evans served as co-chair, and the Office of Management and Budget, Kane said. In those days, "OMB was a bit of a bystander, while the CIO Council was setting the agenda," said Kane. "Forman, to his credit, was marching to the beat of the president's management agenda. But [Evans'] appointment can neutralize that tension" by bringing her fellow CIOs on board with the larger e-government agenda, he said."

    The rapid appointment of a person of this caliber to this position demonstrates the commitment of the Administration to the e-government project.

  • Click to read article
  • E-Gov Act In Full Swing At OMB
    OMB has been given overall responsibility for implementing the E-Gov Act. OMB states that it is now in a position to state that the act is making a real difference in how the government operates.

    "This is the third budget cycle where IT investments must be presented in a thorough business case, Chenok noted, so OMB will be likely focusing agencies more on areas of improvement for ongoing systems or development efforts. "We don't necessarily need to get all of the same information year after year," he said.

    Fiscal 2005 budget guidance also focused on better integrating the IT performance measures and metrics now being developed for all federal programs under the Program Assessment Rating Tool. The hope is that members of Congress will pay more attention to reform initiatives they had a hand in defining, Chenok said."

  • Click to read article
  • OMB Oversight Of Data Quality Act
    OMB is the agency involved in the management of the Data Quality Act. OMB has now issued draft guidlines for public comments which delineates their plans.

    Inside EPA, a leading publication on events occuring at EPA, has prepared an insightful artilce on how OMB intends to manage the Data Quality Act.

    "The White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is asserting a more active role in the government's review of public complaints regarding data used by regulators, by proposing that it be involved on a case-by-case basis with challenges that pose broad policy implications."

    "The proposed OMB guidance, released jointly by the Aug. 29 with the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, would allow the administrator of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for the first time to request a scientific review for particular documents relevant to multiple agencies or that involve policy priorities for the administration.

    The guidance would also require federal agencies to post public challenges to a federal agency's compliance with federal data quality laws on the Internet or forward a copy of the request to OIRA, and if requested, consult with OIRA regarding that request.

    "Sources with the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness, an industry-funded regulatory watchdog group, are interpreting the draft guidance as requiring EPA science advisors for the first time to comply with federal data quality guidelines when they do reviews. OMB issued data-quality requirements last year in accordance with the Data Quality Act signed by President Clinton in 2000.

    The Washington Post reports:

    "The proposal requires agencies to systematically seek outside opinions when evaluating scientific findings or disagreements, a process called peer review. Although such independent appraisals are widely respected in science, critics said the process could quickly get murky when applied to such issues as global warming, pesticide use and ergonomic safety, in which the calculation of risks and benefits of regulations is complex, expensive and politically charged."

    "But Jim Tozzi, a former OMB manager in the Nixon and Reagan administrations and now a member of the board of advisers of the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness, said the measure would improve the quality of the science used to justify regulations and would provide companies facing regulation a way to question incorrect data.

    "What this document does is put additional teeth in what is meant by peer review," said Tozzi, whose group works closely with trade associations and private companies. He suggested that environmental regulations and dietary guidelines might be reevaluated under the new standard."

    850,000 Federal Jobs Up For Grabs
    Under OMB Circular A-76, certain jobs are designated as being capable of being performed by the private sector. Once a federal job is so designated, the federal agency must perform an analysis, including a bid from the private sector, to determine if it should be "contracted out". Reports are that OMB is loosening this requirement. People outside the beltway do not understand the problem.

    "Those defending the status quo say that private sector employees can't do the job as well as federal employees. All they have to do to prove it is agree to competitive bids, then underbid the competition and perform. That's what happens in the real world, and it's what should be happening in the world of government as well."

  • Click to read article
  • NASA Requests $20 Billion Five Year Budget For Shuttle Development
    The press reports, and members of Congress confirm, that NASA is requesting that OMB approve a $20 billion five year program for shuttle development. The opening salvo is a pending request for a $l.6 billion increase for the next fiscal year. It appears that this budget request may in trouble. Not unexpected when the country is facing a record $450 billion deficit. We envision a lean budget for this program for the foreseeable future.

    "An agency spokeswoman declined to comment on budget discussions involving NASA and the White House. A spokesman for the White House referred calls to the Office of Management and Budget, which did not immediately respond. It wasn't clear Friday if the White House decision to reject NASA's request represents a lack of confidence in NASA or was simply a result of the give-and-take of the budget process. OMB spokesman Trent Duffy declined comment, saying budget discussions between federal agencies and the White House are privileged."

  • Click to read article
  • HUD's Disclosure Rule On Settlement Costs Going To OMB
    HUD has been given the authority to regulate the type of information that a lender must give a borrower at the time of settlement. This rule has been reviewed and revised a number of times. The revision of the rule has been a top priority of the Secretary of HUD and is being watched by real estate interests has it undergoes OMB review.

    "The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's proposal to revamp the way home buyers purchase real estate settlement services ultimately could be decided by politics as much as policy. Brokers and lenders who have a stake in the outcome would do well to watch developments along both lines."

  • Click to read article
  • Federal Employees Can Challenge Jobs Identified For Contracting Out
    The government must examine federal jobs and determine whether they can be performed more effectively by the private sector. The unions oppose this program and have attempted to stop it by court action.

    The program continues. However, recent guidance issued by OMB suggested that once a position was placed on the list, it could not be removed.

    "Under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act, federal officials must determine what jobs in their agencies can be done by commercial businesses, and thus potentially be opened to public/private competition. The original version of the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76 allowed challenges to the inclusion or omission of specific jobs on the list of activities eligible for competition, but some observers thought a revision published in May took away the right to challenge."

    OMB has corrected this incorrect interpretation.

  • Click to read article
  • OMB's Federal Research Agenda
    OMB and OSTP are in charge of implementing the federal research agenda across the government. To this end, the heads of these two agencies notified federal agencies to the research priorities for fiscal year 2005.

    "The June 5 memorandum was issued by OSTP Director John Marburger and former OMB Director Mitch Daniels to heads of federal agencies, to provide guidance on R&D priorities for fiscal year 2005. Entitled "FY 2005 Interagency Research and Development Priorities," the memo lays out five areas of R&D that should "receive particular attention" in preparation of the FY 2005 budget request."

  • Click to read article
  • Exodus Of OMB e-Government Officials Continues
    OMB has been the lead in the e-government project--an innovative approach to placing modern IT technology into federal agencies. We are particularly interested in the e-rulemaking project which will make public the comments made in response to a notice in the Federal Register.

    The project leader, and two portfolio managers have announced their departure. Portfolios are groups of projects such as government-to-business and government-to-government projects.

    "Tony Frater, portfolio manager for government-to-government Quicksilver projects, has accepted an industry job, and Jonathan Womer, portfolio manager for government-to-citizen projects, will move to a post in OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs."

    These departures are in addition to the project leader, Mark Foreman. Josh Bolton, the new Director of OMB has a lot on his plate, but the long term consequences of not filling these key positions is significant.

  • Click to read article
  • OMB And The Arcane Review Of Authorization Bills
    One of OMB's significant responsibilities is to advise the President of the budgetary impacts of authorization bills; bills passed by the Congress which authorize the expenditure of Federal funds.

    In discharging this task, OMB uncovers many obscure provisions which are counter to the President's policy. Consider the pending bill to authorize expenses for the FAA dealing with ATC(air traffic controller)

    "The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said the Bush Administration “strongly opposes” provisions that would restrict the Transportation Department’s ability to manage the ATC system by prohibiting the conversion of government-provided ATC functions to the private sector. “Such restrictions are unnecessary and would hinder the ability of the FAA to manage the air traffic control system,” the OMB said. "

  • Click to read article
  • OMB Record-breaking Deficit Confirmed By CBO
    The fact that the projected budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2003 will be the largest is the nation's history was confirmed by CBO, the budget arm of the Congress. Hereford, the largest budget deficit was for fiscal year 1992 which amounted to a mere $290 billion.

    OMB projects a deficit of $455 billion, the CBO a deficit of $401 billion.

    "The Bush administration has blamed the government's fiscal deterioration on a combination of factors, including the sluggish economy and increased spending on defense and security costs. It also notes that, as a proportion of the overall economy, the 2003 deficit would be below the record 6 percent of gross domestic product seen in 1986.

  • Click to read article
  • OMB e-Government Chief To Leave
    Mark Forman the OMB official in charge of e-government is terminating his service with OMB. Forman was in charge of the e-government project which was a program established to increase the presence of the internet in the provision of goods and services by the Federal government.

    "Forman has reached out to citizens as well, putting them in better touch with federal agencies through the 25 e-government initiatives under his office’s purview. The initiatives are an integral component of President Bush’s five-part management agenda. In May, Forman told OMB Deputy Director for Management Clay Johnson that he would like to see 80 percent of the initiatives up and running by July 1, 2004."

  • Click to read article
  • OMB Moratorium On Software Purchases Misunderstood
    OMB's Smart Buy program, which is, in part, aimed at paying too much for proprietary software has been misunderstood. It was not aimed at placing an absolute moratorium on software purchases until the program was implemented.

    "Agencies were especially concerned that the original letter was telling them not to buy any more software pending the establishment of governmentwide enterprise licenses. The new document says there is no ban on buying software."

  • Click to read article
  • Disagreement Over OMB's Projection of Future Deficit Levels
    Each July, OMB issues its midsession review estimates of the numbers presented in the President's Budget. The numbers this year are receiving considerably more scrutiny because of the record deficit level. One analyst concludes that the Administration's own numbers suggest we will not grow ourselves out of the fiscal red ink we are confronting.

    "Contrary to what the administration is claiming, T-9 shows conclusively that adopting the Bush policies would greatly increase the deficit. Long after the economy supposedly would have fully recovered, the deficit would remain."

  • Click to read article
  • OMB Tells GAO They Are Off Base On Privacy Act Report
    There are not very many agencies that can tell GAO that they are off base--but of course they are not OMB. GAO issued a report on agency compliance with the Privacy Act of 1974. GAO concluded:

    "The report said OMB needs to provide additional guidance on how to secure electronic records, make compliance a higher priority in agencies and provide resources for training employees about privacy.

    “OMB has not responded to long-standing agency requests or to our recommendations for improved guidance,” GAO said.

    OMB responded to GAO by stating that not all roses are red:

    "John Graham, OMB administrator for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and Mark Forman, OMB administrator for e-government and IT, in responding to the draft report, said GAO’s report has a “fundamental flaw” because it treats various provisions in the Privacy Act as equally important.

    OMB also called GAO’s nine recommendations “vague and nebulous.”

  • Click to read article
  • Small Businesses Complain About OMB Paperwork Reduction Efforts
    No federal agency can ask any small business to fill out any forms without that federal agency first getting the forms approved by OMB. OMB received this authority under the Paperwork Reduction Act. However, at a Congressional hearing, representatives of small business were disappointed in OMB's performance.

    "Small business groups and their allies in Congress are disappointed in the Office and Management and Budget's efforts to comply with a 2002 law designed to ease paperwork burdens on small businesses.

    For example, the law directed federal agencies to delegate a single point of contact that small businesses could turn for help in complying with the regulations. OMB was in charge of implementing this list, but three cabinet agencies listed multiple contacts and several independent agencies failed to list anyone. "

    The real solution is for Congress to increase the staff levels for OMB.

  • Click to read article
  • 1700 Park Service Jobs Under Review For Contracting Out
    The Park Service is examining the possibility of contracting out some 1700 positions. Not withstanding Congressional attempts to curtail the effort prior to even completing the study, the Director of the Park Service informed Congress that the program is going to continue.

    "Bush administration officials defended a plan to study privatizing some 1,700 positions within the National Park Service at a Senate hearing Thursday, amid growing criticism of the initiative. Park Service Director Fran Mainella told the Senate National Parks Subcommittee that the plan has been widely misunderstood and that concern Park Service employees may have is the result of misinformation."

    The review is being conducted pursuant to OMB Bulleting A-76.

  • Click to read article
  • OMB Backs Off Its Contracting Out Goals
    OMB has been leading the charge to contract out more federal jobs to the private sector. However, this effort has become under considerable opposition by labor unions. OMB announced that although the program will continue, specific numeral goals for each agency will be eliminated.

  • Click to read article
  • OMB Threatens Veto of Legislation To Overturn FCC Media Ownership Rule
    OMB reviews all legislation before it is submitted to the President; Congress is working on legislation to overturn the recent FCC rule on cross-media ownership, which has been reported on extensively in this forum.

    OMB states:

    "The Administration believes that the new FCC media ownership rules more accurately reflect the changing media landscape and the current state of network station ownership, while still guarding against undue concentration in the marketplace," the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.

    "If this provision or a provision like it with respect to any one of the other FCC Rules is contained in the final legislation presented to the President, his Senior Advisors would recommend that he veto the bill," OMB said"

    It was for this reason that we advocated using the Data Quality Act.

  • Click to read earlier articles
  • OMB Differs From Other Experts on the Impact of Ballooning Deficits
    Now that the budget forecasts for the federal budget contain a highway of red ink, experts differ on their significance. "…many economists argue that deficit-spending now should help stimulate the ailing economy, leading to far stronger growth in the year ahead and ultimately bringing down the unemployment rate, which is currently at a nine-year high of 6.4 percent…" "Ken Goldstein, an economist with the Conference Board, a business research group in New York, argues that today's budget deficits "cut deeper" than they did 20 years ago because they come at a time of huge state and local budget deficits, leaving the overall government position with regard to the economy in worse shape."

    Others state:

    "Obviously nobody at the American Enterprise Institute is advocating those kinds of massive tax increases or spending cuts. But Smetters and Gokhale argue that Congress does not appreciate the size of the fiscal problems because federal accounting essentially masks the true size of the growing imbalance. A paper published this week by the two economists contends that a more accurate accounting would show the federal imbalance growing by nearly $9.7 trillion between now and 2008 - more than five times the size of the projected budget deficits.

    We are talking about a huge, huge problem," said Smetters.

  • Click to read the article
  • Senators Moved To Block OMB Metropolitan Designation
    OMB has the authority to designate, to define and to name standard statistical metropolitan areas. They do it based on expert advice from a number of agencies including the Bureau of the Census.

    The two US Senators from Michigan have introduced legislation to block the OMB designation for western Michigan.

    They state: "This action affects federal funding, marketing and tourism programs and the long-range planning efforts of local officials," Stabenow said.

    "Opposition to the changes in the region is not unanimous," U.S. Rep. Vernon Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, said. "The changes are not necessarily bad for everyone."

    Regardless of the Senator's laudable goals, intervention in this process through legislation could lay the groundwork for a number of other Senators' future actions. More specifically, some federal programs may be placed on hold until the issue is resolved.

  • Click to read article
  • OMB's $455 Billon Problem
    OMB has released its estimate that the deficit for FY 2004 will be $455 billion. This number can be compared with the record-breaking deficits of the Reagan Administration and depending on the yardstick used they could be as great or smaller.

    However, one point of difference; we are now locked into expenditures for future years that are, for all practical purposes, non-discretionary---peace keeping efforts around the world.

    Deficits of this magnitude are an extremely important matter. We suggest that the Congress and the Administration realize this fact and place a moratorium on new spending initiatives, including the prescription drug program.

    It is time to get to work on the boring problem of keeping within budget as opposed to promising all things to all people.

  • Click to read article
  • OMB Gives EPA And SSA A Green Light On Financial Systems
    The Bush Administration has put into place a strategic management program aimed at improving the efficiency of government programs. One of the criteria is the installation of financial systems. Reports state:

    "Two agencies - the Social Security Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency - each received a green light this quarter for the first time in financial performance"

    CyberActiivst.US is very interested in the e-government program established under this program.

  • Click to read article
  • American Prospect Reports That OMB Concluded Anti-Drug Advertising Program A Failure
    The American Prospect reports that OMB issued studies several years ago which concluded that the Anti-Drug advertising on TV was ineffective.

    "The truth is that no anti-drug ads have ever really proved effective. In 2000, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the results of a five-year study showing that such ads have been a dismal failure. Kids saw the ads -- the OMB reported they saw them in huge numbers -- but without much effect: The OMB report stated that there "is no evidence that the ads had a direct effect on youth behavior."

    If in fact OMB did reach the above conclusion, there is a legitimate question as to why this program should be funded at the $l billion level.

  • Click to read article
  • CIO Potential Burnout
    Agency CIO's are now a prime candidate for burnout: "Potential burnout will become more of an issue as the pace of cultural change, driven by e-government, increases.", said Mark Forman, administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of E-Government and IT".

    It is well known that agency CIO's have a tremendous responsibility for IT systems and related work. It is also well known that they have a substantial responsibility for implementing e-government programs. What is not known is their very substantial responsibilities under the Data Quality Act.

  • Click to read article
  • OMB Involved in HUD Real Estate Settlement Regulations
    Any homeowner knows that getting a complete understanding of settlement costs is often a challenge. There are costs associated with financing as well as settlement. It is not unusual for the costs actually paid by the consumer to be higher than those quoted.

    HUD is going to issue regulations to address this issue. These regulations must be reviewed by the OMB.

    "HUD officials confirmed last week that the department has "had communications" with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the final shape of the settlement reforms. Among the reported possible options--a concession to title industry critics--is a "dual package" concept that would separate loan origination-related fees from title and settlement-related fees. Consumers presumably could get a guaranteed loan origination fee package from their lender and a separate, fixed-fee settlement-services package from a title or escrow agency, thereby allowing title agencies to remain independent of lender controls".

  • Click to read article
  • OMB's Bold Move Into Software Procurement
    OMB is using its power over the purse strings to get better prices for proprietary software by negotiating licenses with the vendors which will allow GSA to resell it as commodity software. This initiative demonstrates a first step to obtain better prices for government software. What is OMB's plan for open source software?

    "The Office of Management and Budget, in announcing the new program, said "agencies should, to the maximum extent practicable, refrain from entering into any new or renewal software licensing agreements pending a review by OMB and the SmartBuy initiative team."

  • Click to read press article
  • OMB's Silent Authority To Designate SSMA's
    A little know fact is that OMB has the authority to designate standard metropolitan statistical areas(SSMA'S). Designation of these areas is a very significant act in that it carries with it funding implications for a wide variety of federal programs. Even the naming, let alone the geographic definition , of an SMSA is an important act as witnessed by the current debate in Florida.

    "Palm Beach County soon will be a proud member of the brand-new Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach MSA, the sixth largest in the country"

    "Palm Beach County officialdom, however, is upset that Palm Beach County is being excluded from the statistical area name, which is determined by listing the three largest cities within the area. U.S. Reps. Mark Foley and Clay Shaw, both Republicans, are asking the OMB to reconsider the name."

  • Click to read article
  • OMB Responds To Federal Contracting Our Law Suits
    OMB has responded to lawsuits aimed at contracting out federal jobs which could be accomplished by contracting out to the Federal government.

    OMB states:

    "OMB spokesman Trent Duffy issued the agency's official response to the AFGE suit late on July 3: "While it would be inappropriate to comment on the lawsuit, it is disappointing and unfair that unions are trying to shield hundreds of thousands of jobs from true competition," he wrote in the statement. "The job market in America today is the most competitive it has been in recent memory, and no sector deserves special treatment by being insulated from the competition."

  • Click to read article
  • OMB Orders Reprogramming of Funds To Pay For Anthrax Vaccine
    OMB has ordered HHS to fund the development of a second-generation vaccine for anthrax and to stockpile it by cutting existing programs in lieu of providing new funding. This reprogramming approach has raised the ire of several influential Senators.

  • Click to read press coverage
  • Hill Staff State That OMB Program Ratings Need More Hype
    OMB has begun rating government programs based on an analytical assessment of their effectiveness. A key Congressional staff member states that OMB needs to keep the Congress more informed of its actions.

    "If the administration is serious about drawing attention to the PART, Stephens said, OMB should keep congressional appropriators more informed about the assessments. Right now, appropriators have a tendency to dismiss the ratings as one of many management tools that come in and out of fashion. These tools often distract agency managers and make information harder to find when combing over thousands of pages of budget justifications, the traditional material appropriators base decisions on, he said."

  • Click to read complete article
  • OMB Orders Reprogramming of Funds To Pay For Anthrax Vaccine
    OMB has ordered HHS to fund the development of a second-generation vaccine for anthrax and to stockpile it by cutting existing programs in lieu of providing new funding. This reprogramming approach has raised the ire of several influential Senators.

  • Click to read press coverage
  • Kaplan To Be OMB Deputy Director
    Joel Kaplan is to be nominated as the Deputy Director of OMB. Currently he is in the Office of the White House Chief of Staff and served as a law clerk to Justice Scalia.. Kaplan will have line authority over the budget functions of OMB.
  • Click to read press coverage
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