What the President’s Management Agenda Will Say About IT, CIOs and Office of American Innovation

Margaret Weichert

Margaret Weichert Youtube/Senator Heidi Heitkamp

The agenda will include bringing more people to the table and having OMB take the lead.

When the president’s management agenda drops next week, it will include a number of pronouncements around how agencies manage IT, including the Office of Management and Budget retaking a leadership role it had forfeited to the Office of American Innovation over the past year, an official told lawmakers

Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management at OMB, Wednesday told the House Oversight IT subcommittee the agency will be leading the charge on major IT initiatives and the management agenda will outline a “holistic perspective on how to tackle these issues.”

She noted the government’s challenges implementing technology are rarely technological.

“It includes issues around data and data structure. It also includes very critical people issues,” she said. “We’re going to solve these issues holistically, build on past successes. And we believe that the [Modernizing Government Technology Act] and the Technology Modernization Fund will be great stepping stones toward the future of really pulling all of these dimensions together so that they’re not siloed by function.”

When it comes to technology, the management agenda will focus on bringing together IT, human resources and procurement officials, similar to what is done in the private sector.

“We have CIOs … but we also need the human capital element, the financial element, the procurement element to be at the same table,” Weichert said. She applauded the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA, for giving CIOs a seat at the table but said more was needed.

“One of the root cause observations that we had when we looked at how government was tackling these issues versus the private sector, it was that lack of integration across functions,” she said. “We plan to tackle that leveraging these authorities Congress has provided through the MGT Act and TMF.”

“And, by the way, we really hope the appropriators actually fund the TMF,” she added.

The management agenda will also discuss who will lead the administration on IT issues: OMB and the newly appointed federal CIO Suzette Kent or the Office of American Innovation, helmed by presidential adviser Jared Kushner.

“OAI did a great job providing catalytic capabilities in getting a lot of these activities started,” Weichert said, noting she had only been confirmed on Valentine’s Day of this year and Kent had been in place less time than that. Now that OMB’s Office of E-Government has permanent leadership, it’s time for that office to take the lead, she said.

“What’s been included in the president’s budget in February and what will be rolled out next week in the President’s Management Agenda is the comprehensive go-forward plan,” Weichert told the committee. “We continue to work very closely with OAI in terms of helping shape the strategy and bring to bear the best thinking of the administration and also marshal resources outside of government to provide insights that might be helpful in our journey. But we at OMB are really leading the direction with the president’s management agenda and bringing the executive branch along.”