New OMB Management Watch and High-Risk lists published

GovExec reports that OMB released updated versions of the Management Watch List and High-Risk List last week. As they put it:

Business cases for IT investments end up on the list if OMB officials find one or more weaknesses. The plans — required under the 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act — are then targeted for follow-up so that potential problems can be corrected before the project begins.


Placements on the high risk list, established by OMB in August 2005, are determined by projects’ complexity or level of importance. The 549 initiatives on the list represent about $12.9 billion in projected IT spending for fiscal 2008. OMB has decided they need attention from “the highest level of agency management,” but in a statement, noted they are not necessarily at risk for failure.

Across agencies there are some common themes:

  • Financial Management Line of Business
  • Human Resources Line of Business
  • E‑Authentication
  • Many e‑gov projects (E‑Rulemaking, E‑Travel, etc.)

There are several grants management programs identified in these lists, too:

  • USDA “GMLoB Migration”
  • USDA “Legacy Grants Management System”
  • HHS “ Find and Apply”
  • HHS “NIH OD Electronic Research Admin (eRA)”
  • Treasury “Grants Management at CDFI”
  • Education “Grants Administration Payment System (GAPS)”
  • Education “G5”
  • DoE “EE State Grants Administration”
  • EPA “IGMS”
  • DOT “eGrants”
  • USAID “JAMS System (JAMS/PSIP Investment)”
  • NSF “GMLOB Government-wide Initiative (NSF and HHS Co-Managing Partners)”
  • NSF “FastLane”

A well-documented ‘best practice’ for IT projects is that the involvement of senior management is essential for long-term success, especially for those initiatives with broad application across the enterprise. As I mentioned back in January, my hope is that the application of ‘best practices’ such as this will not be taken simply as “bad news” and lambasted by all and sundry. The kind of attention being given to these important projects is encouraging and should be interpreted as demonstrating good management oversight — something that has been poorly lacking over the years and which the government is trying hard to address.