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IT Spending Transparency Reaches Next Phase of Implementation


In 2017, the Federal Government began efforts to track funds and create transparency on resources spent on Information Technology (IT) through the implementation of Technology Business Management (TBM), a framework used to measure the value of their IT investments. Under the umbrella of the President’s Management Agenda, the associated Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal – IT Spending Transparency – had a goal to adopt TBM government-wide by Fiscal Year 2022.

This post provides a brief summary of the progress of IT Spending Transparency/TBM implementation across the government and an update on what’s next.

Information technology is foundational to every Federal Government function and is a critical component in the delivery of services to citizens. In 2018, the President’s Management Agenda formalized IT Spending Transparency as a CAP Goal with the intent to develop a government-wide classification system to categorize IT data that enables them to better understand how money is spent on IT.

IT Spending Transparency Efforts Across Government

The development of a government-wide classification system to categorize IT data is no easy task, but for agencies that have committed resources to better understand IT spending, the outcomes have been well worth the investment. Most notably, research conducted by the Professional Services Council has shown that the implementation of a standard cross-agency framework for understanding IT spending is having a “stabilizing effect” on civilian IT spending. In addition, agencies are embracing lessons they’ve learned from the private sector when it comes to IT, making more decisions through the use of business cases to justify any technology spending.

Part of this initiative is to link and utilize existing data/data efforts. These efforts will eliminate duplicative work while supporting programmatic decision-making/programmatic investments to support results. There’s also been an improvement in agency reporting over the past fiscal years. For FY 2017, President’s Budget reported 84% of the total Federal IT budget categorized as “other,” as opposed to being clearly tied to a specific IT category of spend. Now, for FY 2020, President’s Budget requires all investments to categorize IT spend by IT Towers – 100% of IT spend reported by agencies is now captured using an open-source nomenclature with IT management best practices.

“A guiding principle of GSA’s strategy is to demonstrate strong stewardship of every taxpayer dollar spent on technology. To be a good steward, it’s important to leverage what you already have and then determine what you still need.”- David Shive, Chief Information Officer, General Services Administration

As the government’s chosen framework and through the Federal Technology Investment Management Community of Practice, agencies have leveraged TBM knowledge and best practices as a standard way to categorize IT costs, technologies, resources, applications, and services. For example:

The Small Business Administration (SBA) adopted the TBM framework in 2018. To create consistent standards for IT spending, the CIO’s office first spent time defining the core functions and services that SBA provides to customers. As a result, they created a model that enabled them to create a TBM data classification system. Long term, SBA’s goal is to demonstrate the value of IT purchasing to make better management decisions and create a model around which all IT investments are planned and charged.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) goal is to identify gaps and duplication of IT services, enabling them to prioritize mission functions. So far, the FBI has collected and mapped IT spending data in a way that allows leaders to discuss investment opportunities and risk simultaneously. This level of insight has created the opportunity for leaders to make strategic management decisions that support specific FBI’s missions and has enhanced agency-wide communication about IT priorities.

The Future of IT Spending Transparency & Next Steps

The energy across the Federal Government to better understand IT spending and investments will only increase over time. The TBM framework will continue to be used as a strategy to achieve IT Spending Transparency and should continue to drive innovation and business transformation, improve services to citizens, add cost transparency, and increase accountability to taxpayers.

To ensure timely progress is made towards this goal, the IT Spending Transparency CAP Goal will be repositioned under the existing CAP Goals: Category Management, IT Modernization, and Data, Accountability, and Transparency. This realignment will improve existing processes for IT budgeting and procurement, providing more visibility and traceability. TBM Subject Matter Experts will continue to collaborate across CAP Goals and communities of practices to ensure compliance under the Capital Planning and Investment Control process and the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, and to communicate changes.