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Federal Agencies Must Report More IT Spending Data

New OMB requirements broaden the set of data that agencies have to share on how they spend taxpayer dollars on IT.

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Federal agencies will be required to report more detailed information about their IT investments online as part of the Obama administration's IT reform plan, according to new requirements by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released this week.

The move is a significant development for the administration's goals for transparency and a more open government, as the public will have a clearer view into how federal agencies and departments are spending taxpayer money on IT.

The OMB issued the guidance as a requirement of the 25-point IT Reform Plan, released in December, to revise the inefficient way the government has been deploying IT for more than a decade.

The new reporting framework is aimed at increasing the relevance of IT investment data as well as improving the alignment of IT budgets with management processes, according to a post on the CIO.gov blog.

The new requirements also aim to improve the quality of the data agencies are reporting and reduce the agency's reporting burden, according to the post.

Data quality in particular has been a thorn in the feds' side when it comes to IT reporting, as both the government's own watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office, and a third-party open-government group, The Sunlight Foundation, have criticized the validity of IT investment data on the Federal IT Dashboard. The dashboard is an online repository for federal IT investment data, and one of several websites the administration launched as part of its data-transparency objectives.

The administration plans to release a new version of the Federal IT Dashboard during fiscal-year 2012 that will include the required new details about federal IT investments.

One new aspect of investment data agencies must report, and which will be displayed on the dashboard, are more detailed and timely tracking of development execution, according to the blog post.

The OMB has posted a rundown of the new requirements on its website.

The document--titled "FY13 Guidance for Exhibit 300 A-B"--includes tables of IT capital asset summary information agencies and departments will be required to fill out for publication on the Federal IT Dashboard. They also must provide a comprehensive list of planning costs through 2016 and beyond, providing their "best estimates for planning purposes," according to the document.

All in all, the new requirements are "substantial enhancements to transparency and accountability" that "will dramatically improve the Federal Government's ability to manage the $80 billion of taxpayer dollars spent each year on IT," according to the CIO.gov post.

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