The White House wants federal agencies to know they no longer have to comply with the IT requirements that have long since been replaced with new guidance.
In a new memorandum, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney rescinded several directives related to information technology, financial management, customer service and purchasing, including many issued during the 1990s.
It’s not yet clear how many of the rescinded IT memoranda are actively in use today. One set OMB nixed had directed agencies to prepare readiness plans for Y2K, the IT disruption many feared would happen at the beginning of the year 2000.
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Rolling back outdated guidance would let “those who know their agencies best—agency managers—manage operations, adopt best practices, and find the best way possible to reduce costs and minimize staff hours responding to duplicative and burdensome reporting requirements," Mulvaney wrote in the memo addressed to federal agency heads.
OMB plans to identify other redundant guidance and work with the Office of Personnel Management, the General Services Administration and the legislative branch on that, he wrote.
The memo specifically rescinded directives including:
- Some IT security guidance issued before the 2014 Federal information Security Modernization Act. Agencies should “continue to implement the requirements” in FISMA, including the 2002 directive “Reducing Redundant IT Infrastructure Related to Homeland Security.”
- Directives potentially made obsolete by the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which gives chief information officers more budget authority. Nixed memoranda include the 2010 document “Reforming the Federal Government's Efforts to Manage Information Technology Projects,” which mandated the chief information officer directly review high-risk IT projects, and 2011 guidance outlining authorities of CIOs.
- Memos issued in 1999 directing agencies to prepare for the disruptions caused by the transition to the year 2000, which are “now obsolete and outdated, as the federal government was successfully unaffected by any service interruptions.”
- Old guidance on FISMA reporting requirements from 2004 to 2010.
- Outdated reporting requirements for PortfolioStat, a dashboard for IT spending, though agencies will still participate in that program.
“Too often, burdensome tasks have piled up without consideration of whether the requirements collectively make sense,” Mulvaney wrote in the memo.
The repealed IT guidance doesn't seem all that impactful, Robert Shea, former associate director for administration and government performance at OMB and now a public sector principal at Grant Thornton, told Nextgov.
Because agencies likely weren’t actually paying attention to—and therefore weren't burdened by—compliance requirements of decades-old policy, the rescinded IT memos appeared to be the result of “bookkeeping," he said.
More striking were moves to eliminate the financial reporting requirements for agencies hosting or sponsoring conferences, Shea said. He also pointed to a statement suggesting agencies do not have to report on objectives not aligned with the current White House policy during strategic reviews.
”Performance management is about transparency, in part, so you should be reporting on the performance against your goals, irrespective of a change in administration," he said.