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OMB FY 2017 Budget Guidance – Agencies Told to Cut More

While the FY 2016 federal budget appropriations bills are working their way through Congress, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is looking to FY 2017 and has again directed agencies to submit lower discretionary budgets.

Following their normal budget process and timelines, federal agencies are beginning to prepare their FY 2017 budgets, which will not be submitted to Congress until February 2016 to take effect that October, more than 16 months from now.  As is customary for this time of year, OMB issued a memo with specific budget preparation guidance for FY 2017 to outline any new or specific parameters that agencies are to follow.

Discretionary Budget Requirements

Key provisions in OMB’s guidance to agencies for their FY 2017 budget submission include:

  • A five percent reduction below the agency’s net discretionary total for FY 20 17 as stated in the FY 2016 Budget (unless otherwise directed by OMB)
    • The 5 percent reduction is to apply equally to defense and non-defense programs. Agencies that are split between the two may not reduce one area more than 5 percent to offset the other area.
  • Requirement to sufficiently fund ongoing Presidential priorities
  • Inclusion of a separate section that identifies recommendations on how they will continue efforts to increase effectiveness and reduce fragmentation, overlap, and duplication
  • Identifying additional investments in programs that support their missions, especially programs with strong evidence of effectiveness. However, the agency’s total net discretionary for FY 2017 may not exceed the FY 2017 total provided in the FY 2016 budget request. Agencies should separately identify and rank these investments by priority.

As in previous years, agencies are to exclude the following:

  • Shifting costs to other parts of the Federal budget
  • Reclassifying existing discretionary spending to mandatory
  • Reductions to mandatory spending to be enacted in appropriations bills
  • Across-the-board reductions
  • Enacting new user fees to offset existing spending, (although agencies may submit these separately as alternative ways to achieve the guidance level.)

Other Parameters

In addition to the directives above, agencies are instructed to continue to support the President's Management Agenda (PMA) focused on agency effectiveness and efficiency as well as government-funded data and research efforts and workforce improvements. In support of the PMA, OMB wants agencies to focus on

  • Implementing CAP goals
  • Using data-driven management reviews (e.g. FedStat)
  • Supporting Agency Digital Service Teams
  • Reducing their real property footprint
  • Reducing improper payments
  • Enhancing shared services
  • Implementing the DATA Act and FITARA.

Further, OMB wants agencies to prioritize institutionalizing the use of data and evidence to drive better decision-making and achieve greater impact at their agencies.

While there are no surprises or major changes in how OMB is directing agencies to develop their budgets over recent years, it seems that the number and complexity of requirements continues to grow.

State budget overview: Critical information on priorities and funding for vendors

As spring progresses, news from most states is centered on legislative actions (some controversial) passed before the annual sine die adjournment of the state legislature. With that backdrop, many state legislatures will approve budgets for the coming fiscal year or biennium. Beyond the headlines about the growth of government and funding cuts to pet projects, or the spin promulgated by lawmakers’ press releases and governor budget addresses, vendors can find essential information on state priorities.

A state’s budget and how it passed into law is important information for a vendor to have when deciding in which states or localities to compete for business. For most states, the budget process follows the same approval path by the full legislature and the governor’s signature. The first step in this process generally comes from the state agencies themselves. In most cases, these agencies report to the governor as part of the executive branch. The agencies conduct their own planning and budgeting process and submit a request to the governor’s budget team or office. The governor and his or her team then decide which priorities and funding to include and compile a document of the governor’s recommendations for submittal to the state legislature.

At Deltek, we spend quite a bit of time compiling and analyzing the state governors’ recommended budgets. The budgets, along with other compiled data,  are contained in Deltek’s State Government Profiles. The profiles provide essential and in-depth reference and research on state budgets, procurement, and organizational details to assist contractors in building important state buyer relationships and quickly ramping up new government sales professionals.

A governor’s proposed budget is by no means the final budget that makes it out of a state legislature, though it provides valuable insight about the executive priorities and the fiscal condition of the state. These documents also provide us with historical expenditure data, which allows for a more in-depth analysis of budget trends and fiscal realities. 

Following the governor’s lead, the state legislature begins work on their own version of the budget. Sometimes they use the governor’s recommendations as a starting point, but this is not always the case in adversarial political environments. Both houses of the legislature (for every state but Nebraska) weigh in on the budget as it goes through the normal process of committee and floor votes, and then conference committees work to reconcile any differences. The legislature submits the budget to the governor and he or she decides to approve it or not.  

For vendors, both the governor’s proposed budget and the final version are important documents. They can help to understand both the priorities of an administration and the reality of the political system and/or fiscal climate. Of course, they also offer insight into exactly where state funding is flowing and which departments will be looking for vendor support. 

In the coming months, look for the compilation of state budget data, including IT line items and detailed Deltek analysis of this data. In addition, vendors in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) space should watch for more budget data specific to state investment in AEC as outlined in state capital budgets.

You can learn more about state budgets in Deltek’s State Government Profiles. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial

 

Agencies Most Adept at Implementing GAO Recommendations for IT

In the wake of GAO’s new high risk report which added IT acquisition to its ranks, Deloitte’s Advanced Analytics and Modeling (AAM) practice released a study of the effectiveness of GAO’s recommendations over time which showed that agencies are most adept at implementing GAO recommendations for information technology and IT security.

The report, entitled “Accountability Quantified:  What 26 years of GAO reports can teach us about government management,” set out to determine if GAO recommendations were an effective way to drive targeted change within agencies.  Additionally, Deloitte wanted to “use GAO as an example of how agencies can better structure their internal oversight activities to quantify accountability and drive results.”  For the report, Deloitte analyzed 1.3 million pages of GAO reports using text analytics and analyzed the 40,000-plus recom­mendations made by GAO from 1983 through 2014.

Summaries of their findings for seven key questions are listed below:

The study found that agencies show the highest rate of success at implementing GAO recommendations in the areas of information security, information technology, education, and equal opportunity.  Information security logged a 94% completion rate and information technology an 87% completion rate.  These results may seem counter intuitive due to the bad press and scrutiny that federal IT programs have received in recent months.  However, GAO’s recommendations are often tactical and not large-scale enterprise solutions or system changes, making it easier for agencies to comply.

Unfortunately, repeated recommendations to an agency in the same area do not improve an agency’s success rate.  The study found, “There is no meaningful relationship between how many recommendations an agency receives in a specific area and how often they succeed in that area.”  

Additionally, it’s worth noting that adoption of recommendations was studied over nearly a 30 year period.  So, although agencies showed that they had implemented a high number of IT recommendations, this took place over an extended period of time and repeated prodding by GAO did little to hasten fixes. 

Deloitte offers that because of GAO’s high success rate in the information technology space, it may have room to increase the number and strength of the specific recommenda­tions it gives around IT security issues.  On a broader scale, Deloitte recommends that GAO and agencies apply more standardization to their oversight data in order to analyze and interpret it more easily.  Specifically Deloitte recommends the following next steps:    

  • Keep score by tracking where their recommendations are succeeding or failing.  
  • Convert reports to a text analytics-friendly electronic format.  
  • Establish a coding structure for reports.  
  • Uncover hidden trends. Develop a standard taxonomy for over­sight reporting terms.  
  • Develop real-time accountability score­cards—and make them public.  

 

 

GAO Updates High Risk Programs List

Yesterday, GAO released its biennial update of federal high risk programs, a total of 32 programs including two new areas, Veterans Health Care and IT Acquisitions and Operations.

Since the list’s inception in 1990 with an initial slate of 14 program areas, 43 programs have been added and 23 removed.  GAO removes programs from the list when the following criteria are met: leadership commitment, agency capacity, an action plan, monitoring efforts, and demonstrated progress.

This year GAO states that progress is being made, but no programs were removed.  Eighteen of the 30 programs on the list in 2013 partially met criteria for removal and 11 met at least one of the criteria for removal.  GAO is reducing the scope of two high risk areas, Protecting Public Health through Enhanced Oversight of Medical Products and DoD Contract Management, due improvements made.  GAO is expanding its oversight of two other programs due to growing risk potential:  Enforcement of Tax Laws and Ensuring the Security of Federal Information Systems and Cyber Critical Infrastructure and Protecting the Privacy of Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

GAO is adding the program entitled Managing Risks and Improving Veterans Affairs Health Care due to VA’s lack of action on many of GAO’s past recommendations to improve veteran health care access and delivery.  Although VA has taken some action, work still remains in the areas of policies and processes, oversight and accountability, IT, training, and resources.

GAO is also adding the program entitled Improving the Management of Information Technology Acquisitions and Operations.  Despite legislation and administrative efforts to improve IT acquisitions and management, investments are still experiencing cost overruns, schedule lapses, and failure in some cases.  According to GAO’s report, “Over the past 5 years, GAO made more than 730 recommendations; however, only about 23% had been fully implemented as of January 2015.”

Efforts to improve IT acquisition and management will directly affect federal contractors, adding to increased scrutiny of contractor performance and potentially increasing required project performance documentation. Additionally, program areas such as those that are benefits based, may offer opportunities for technology contractors.  Federal demand for IT solutions to combat waste, fraud and abuse will continue to increase over the next several years.  Such products and services include technologies for pre-screening and identity authentication; data capture and processing; examination and detection; big data and analytics; and investigation, prosecution and recovery.

Through Congressional oversight and legislation, along with OMB leadership and agency accountability and corrective actions, vast improvements have been made to areas remaining on the high risk list.  Continued diligence by agencies in implementing GAO recommendations will lead to continued progress and elimination of federal program areas from the list.  

 

FY 2016 Budget Request – Information Technology Highlights

Information Technology (IT) budgets are UP for fiscal year (FY) 2016 nearly across the board for major federal departments. The Obama Administration released its FY 2016 Budget request Monday morning, and around 6 p.m. the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted details on the Information Technology budget proposal, revealing a return to year-over-year budget increases for both the Defense and Civilian top-line numbers and net increases for most Executive Branch departments and agencies.

In a previous entry we looked at the overall FY 2016 discretionary budget highlights across the top agencies. Here, we will focus on IT.

According to the IT budget request for FY 2016, the overall IT budget for Executive Branch departments and agencies comes in at $86.3B, up 2.3% from the FY 2015 enacted level and 5.5% higher than the $81.7B spent in FY 2014. However, factoring out grants to state and local governments, the total IT budget for FY 2016 comes in at just over $79B, an increase of 4% from FY 2015, which was effectively flat from FY 2014. (See table below.)


 

AGENCY HIGHLIGHTS

In addition to the many budget increases for the next fiscal year, many agencies are also allocating greater funds to Development, Modernization, Enhancement (DME) efforts over Operations and Maintenance (O&M). These and other funding observations are included in the following agency highlights.

Department of Defense

The DoD is allocated a total of $37.3B in IT funds for FY 2016, a 3% increase over the FY 2015 enacted level of $36.3B. The total funds are split between classified and non-classified areas, $6.6B and $30.7B respectively. If enacted, this would mean a 2% increase in classified DOD IT and a 9% increase in non-classified DOD IT.

OMB released only top-line IT budget numbers for DoD and promised detailed updates in early March. This is fairly common practice each budget cycle, but shrouds DoD IT spending longer than any other department. Until then, we pursued what IT-related spending information could be gleaned from other DoD budget documentation.


Air Force

  • $1.8B in Procurement funds for Electronics and Telecom Equipment, an increase of more than $400M (30%) over FY 2015
  • $2.6B in Space Procurement funding, which budget materials note that FY 2016 marks the first year that such procurement are broken out.
  • $2.4B in Science and Technology RDT&E funds, an increase of $96M from FY 2015
  • $287M in Procurement funds for the Strategic Command And Control program, up from $140M (+105%) in FY 2015
  • $103.7M for AFNET, up 15% from the $90.5M level in FY 2015
  • $31.4M in Procurement funds for “General Information Technology,” down from $43M in FY 2015.
  • $9.6M for Integrated Strategic Planning & Analysis Network (ISPAN), an increase of $500K (6%) from the FY 2015 level

Army

  • $3.5B in Procurement funding for Communications and Electronics Equipment
  • $783M in O&M funding for upgrades to the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T)
  • $260M in Procurement funding for the Distributed Common Ground System-Army
  • $152.2M in Procurement funding for Automated Data Processing Equipment
  • $103M in Procurement funding for the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization (IMOD) Program
  • $72.2M in Procurement funding for the Communications Security Program
  • $43.5M in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation funding related to WIN-T for developing Network Operations software to meet the Army Network Convergence goals
  • $22M in Procurement funding for the Unified Command Suite

Navy

  • $17.9B in R&D funding, up nearly 12% from the FY 2015 level of $16.0B
  • $55M in R&D for Cyber (ORT/TFCA only), up from $3M in FY 2015
  • $2.4B in Navy Procurement funds for Communications and Electronics Equipment, up $158M (7%) from FY 2015
  • $279M in Procurement funds for CANES, down from $336M in FY 2015
  • $31.8M For the Distributed Common Ground System-Navy (DCGS-N), up from $23.7M in FY 2015
  • $135.7M for the Information Systems Security Program (ISSP), a 26% increase over the FY 2015 level of $108M
  • $740M in Marine Corps Procurement funds for Communications and Electronics Equipment, including $67M to support NGEN. The total is up from $570M in FY 2015

Defense-Wide

  • $12.3B in funding for the Science and Technology program for future technologies
  • $7.4B in funding for C4I systems
  • $7.1B for space-based systems
  • $800M for the MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aircraft System
  • $84.4M in Procurement funding for equipment for the Joint Information Environment, a 539% increase over the $13.3M invested in FY 2015
  • $57.7M in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation funding for SOF Advanced Technology Development
  • $11.7M in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation funding for Insider Threat detection

Agriculture

The USDA’s FY 2016 budget request for IT is $1.95B, 1.56% higher than the estimated level of $1.92B in Fiscal Year 2015.

Funding highlights include: 

  • $431M in the USDA’s Working Capital Fund, with money in this account used to finance central services in the USDA, including automated data processing systems for payroll, personnel, and related services; telecommunications services; and information technology systems
  • $66.3M in funding for information technology related to Farm Service Agency IT programs, including work related to the Modernize and Innovate the Delivery of Agricultural Systems (MIDAS) program
  • $29.5M in DME funding for the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Delivery Streamline Initiative (CDSI)
  • $29M in DME funding for the Office of the Chief Information Officer’s Optimized Computing Environment (OCE)
  • $28M for the USDA’s cyber security requirements and programs
  • $7.6M to fund a USDA Digital Services team that will focus on transforming the department's digital services in line with the White House’s Smarter IT Delivery initiative
  • $4.25M for information technology infrastructure at the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service
  • $3M to implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, including changes in business processes, work force, and/or information technology assets
  • $1M for the Common Computing Environment, a shared information technology platform for the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Rural Development

Commerce

The president’s budget request provides $2333.2M in funding for the Commerce Department’s information technology, an 8% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels. 62% of FY 2016 funds are dedicated to operations and maintenance, a 3% increase over the FY 2015 enacted levels. Funding to support development, modernization, and enhancement efforts totals over $880M for FY 2016, rising above the amount enacted in FY 2015 by 38%.

Funding highlights include:

  • The top ten investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up just over 57% of Commerce’s entire IT budget.
  • Includes $339.7M in new investments for FY 2016.
  • Funding for upgrades is set to receive $5.2M for FY 2016, level with the enacted amounts for FY 2015.
  • Mission delivery and management support efforts request an additional $84M, bringing the total for FY 2016 to $1,415.5M and marking a 9% increase over the enacted level from FY 2015.
  • Commerce aims to provide $798.3M in funding for infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications, an increase of 8% over levels from FY 2015.
  • Increasing 27% over the enacted level for FY 2015, Commerce has identified $116.2M for efforts related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

Energy

The president’s budget request provides $1,469.1M in funding for the Energy Department’s information technology, a 1% drop from FY 2015 enacted levels. 92% of FY 2016 funds are dedicated to operations and maintenance, a 1% increase over the FY 2015 enacted levels. Funding to support development, modernization, and enhancement efforts decline below the amount enacted in FY 2015 by $25.M, marking a drop of 18%.

Funding highlights include:

  • With details for over 700 investments for FY 2016, the top ten investments by requested funding combine to make up around 11% of Energy’s IT budget.
  • Includes $72.7M in new investments for FY 2016.
  • Consolidation activities are set to receive $43.6M.
  • Funding for upgrades is set to receive $3.5M for FY 2016, level with the enacted amounts for FY 2015.
  • Energy is targeting $663.8M in funds for mission delivery and management support, marking a drop of 2% from FY 2015.
  • Maintaining the enacted funding level from FY 2015, Energy aims to provide $747.6M for infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications.
  • Increasing 7% over the level for FY 2015, Energy is looking to provide $73.5M for efforts related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

Health and Human Services

The president’s budget request provides $11.4B in total IT funding to HHS, a 10% decrease over FY 2015 enacted levels. Grants account for $6.4B of the total IT budget.  HHS’ proposed IT budget without grants totals $4.9B which is a 2% decrease over FY 2015.

Funding highlights include (excludes grants):

  • DME accounts for $1.1B or 22% of the total IT budget, a 14% decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels
  • 545 total investments of which the top 10 represent 37% of the total IT budget at $1.8B
  • $149M slated for cloud investments, a 5.5% decrease from FY 2015
  • Notable changes in agency IT budgets include CMS $2.3B down 3%, NIH $781M down 2.4%, FDA $584 up 1%, and CDC $324M down 6.5%
  • Notable program changes include CMS IT Infrastructure – Ongoing down $95M, CMS Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM)down $60M, and CMS Beneficiary e-Services up $22M

Homeland Security

The budget request provides $6.2B for IT investments at DHS for FY 2016, a 4% increase over the FY 2015 enacted level of $5.9B.

Funding highlights include:

  • DME accounts for $1.0B or 16% of the total IT budget, a $76M increase from FY 2015 enacted levels
  • $150.3M in DME funds for USCIS Transformation, which makes up 83% of the total FY 2016 funding of $180.9M
  • $463.9M for the National Cybersecurity & Protection System (NCPS), including $95.8M in DME funds, 21% of the total
  • $102.7M for the Continuous Diagnostics & Mitigation (CDM) program, of which $91.4, or 89%, are DME funds
  • $88.5M in DME funds for the CBP Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) Systems Program, which represents 42% of the overall $209.3M for the year
  • $80.3M in funds for the NPPD Next Generation Networks Priority Services (NGN-PS), 100% of which is DME

Interior

The president’s budget request provides $1,098.5M in funding for the Department of the Interior’s information technology, a drop of less than one percent from FY 2015 enacted levels. 92% of FY 2016 funds provide operations and maintenance, a 2% increase over the FY 2015 enacted levels to $1014.2M. At less than $85M for FY 2016, support for development, modernization, and enhancement efforts drops 20% below the amount enacted in FY 2015.

Funding highlights include:

  • The top five investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up over 61% of Interior’s entire IT budget.
  • New investments receive $5.6M for FY 2016.
  • Requesting $402.1M for mission delivery and management support efforts, Interior looks to slightly raise the funding for these investments bumping the total up by 1% over the FY 2015 levels.
  • Interior’s request of $657.6M for investments targeting infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications marks a 1% decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels.
  • Dropping 13% from the level enacted for FY 2015, Interior has identified $38.3M for investments related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

NASA

The president’s budget request provides $1,390.4M in funding for NASA’s information technology, a 2% decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels. 95% of FY 2016 funds are dedicated to operations and maintenance, maintaining the FY 2015 enacted levels at $1,323.1M. Funding to support development, modernization, and enhancement efforts takes a hit for FY 2016, dropping 27% below the amount enacted in FY 2015 to $67.3M.

Funding highlights include:

  • The top five investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up nearly 59% of NASA’s entire IT budget.
  • NASA is looking to maintain its spending for mission delivery and management support, requesting $942.8M for FY2016.
  • $445.2M for Infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications, a 2% drop from FY 2015 levels.
  • Maintaining the funding level enacted for FY 2015, FY 2016 would see $2.5M for efforts related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

Justice

The president’s budget request provides $2732.3M in funding for the Justice Department’s information technology, a 4% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels. Topping $2,250M for FY 2016, 83% of these funds are dedicated to operations and maintenance, marking a 5% increase over the FY 2015 enacted levels. At $476.1M for FY 2016, funding to support development, modernization, and enhancement efforts stay fairly level with the amount enacted in FY 2015, dropping by only 1%.

Funding highlights include:

  • The top ten investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up nearly 37% of Justice’s entire IT budget.
  • Includes $110.6M in new investments for FY 2016.
  • $478.6M is requested for system upgrades, an increase of around $5.5M over enacted levels for FY 2015.
  • Consolidation activities are set to receive $237.3M.
  • Dropping by 2% from the enacted FY 2015 levels, the request for mission delivery and management support activities totals $1,138.0M for FY 2016.
  • Justice aims to provide $1,413.8M in FY 2016 for infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications, marking an increase of 10% from the level enacted for FY 2015.
  • Rising 23% above the FY 2015 level, Justice has identified $152.2M for efforts related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

Social Security Administration

SSA sees a 7% budget increase for FY 2016, growing to $1.7B from $1.6B in FY 2015.

Funding highlights include

  • At SSA DME accounts $705M or 42% of the total FY 2016 IT budget
  • $278.4M is allocated for Non-Major Infrastructure IT investments, of which 275.5M (99%) is DME
  • $55.0M in DME funds for the Disability Case Processing System (DCPS)      , which accounts for 92% of the total $60M budget
  • $68.5M slated for Non-Major IT Security Initiatives, 62% of which ($42.7M) is new development funds
  • $29.1M in new DME funding for the Intelligent Disability program, which makes up 84% of the $34.8M total

State

The State department receives $1.6B in IT funds for FY 2016, up 15% with an increase of $218M from FY 2015.

Funding highlights include

  • $140.4M of total agency DME funds account for 9% of the total FY 2016 IT budget and increases $3M from FY 2015
  • $28.5M for Consular Systems Modernization, of which $18.8M (66%) is DME funds
  • $13.3 in funding for the Architecture Services program, 100%        of which is DME
  • $11.0M in DME funding for Bureau IT Support, which accounts for 5% of the overall $230.3M allocated for FY 2016
  • $10.9M for DME efforts around the Global Foreign Affairs Compensation System (GFACS), or 35% of the total $30.8M in funds
  • $43.3M in total funding for the Integrated Personnel Management System (IPMS), $10.1M (23%) of which is DME
  • $31.6M in total funding for the Earnings Redesign initiative, $27.6M (88%) of which is DME

Transportation

The DOT’s FY 2016 budget request for IT is $3.3B, 6.4% higher than the estimated level of $3.1B in Fiscal Year 2015.

Funding highlights include:

  • $245M in DME funding for the FAA’s Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement Program (TAMR-P)
  • $238M in DME funding for the FAA’s Data Communications NextGen Support (DataComm) program
  • $215M for the FAA’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system
  • $200M for the FAA’s Facilities & Equipment account to finance major capital investments in FAA power systems, air route traffic control centers, air traffic control towers, terminal radar approach control facilities, and navigation and landing equipment
  • $3M to implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, including changes in business processes, work force, and/or information technology assets
  • $60M for NextGen operations planning activities at the FAA
  • $42.6M in funding through September 30, 2018 for information management related to Motor Carrier Safety Operations and Programs
  • $20M for FMCSA’s commercial vehicle information systems and networks deployment program and Information Technology Deployment (ITD) program
  • $9M to fund a DOT Digital Services team that will focus on transforming the department's digital services in line with the White House’s Smarter IT Delivery initiative
  • $8M for cyber security initiatives, including necessary upgrades to the DOT’s wide area network and information technology infrastructure
  • $4M for operation and maintenance of the FTA’s National Transit Database

Treasury

The president’s budget request provides $4.5B in total IT funding to Treasury, a 19% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels.    

Funding highlights include:

  • DME accounts for $933M or 21% of the total IT budget, a 4% increase from FY 2015 enacted levels
  • 280 total investments of which the top 10 represent 56% of the total IT budget at $2.5B
  • $330M slated for cloud investments, a 9.6% increase from FY 2015
  • Notable changes in agency IT budgets include IRS $3.2B up 30%, Fiscal Service $697 down 1%, and Departmental Offices $255M down 5%
  • Notable program changes include IRS Main Frames and Servers Services and Support (MSSS) up $219M, IRS Enterprise Services - PAC 9U up $204M, and IRS Applications Development Program Support (ADPS) up $60M

Veterans Affairs

The president’s budget request provides $4.4B in total IT funding to VA, a 5% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels.

Funding highlights include:

  • DME accounts for $639M or 15% of the total IT budget, a 11% decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels
  • 31 total investments of which the top 10 represent 92% of the total IT budget at $4B
  • $49M slated for cloud investments, a 32% decrease from FY 2015
  • Notable program changes include Benefits 21st Century Paperless Delivery of Veterans Benefits up $116M, Medical 21st Century Development Core down $81M, and Interagency 21st Century One Vet up $75M

We will be publishing our complete analysis of the FY 2016 budget request – including IT investments and initiatives – in the weeks to come.

Fellow GovWin Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) analysts Kyra Fussell, Deniece Peterson, Angela Petty and Alex Rossino contributed to this entry.

 

OMB Says No Sequestration for FY 2015

It’s official! The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has announced that for fiscal year (FY) 2015, federal agencies will not have to worry about sequestration-related budget cuts. That’s now two years in a row that sequestration has been removed from the radar.

In their latest sequestration update report to Congress, OMB provides their analysis as to why agencies have dodged the sequestration bullet as laid out in the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). The report was recently addressed in a Federal News Radio article.

The biggest reason agencies are not feeling quite the same sequestration pressure is because Congress worked out a deal back in 2013 to this effect.  Under the two-year Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2013, which covered FY 2014 and FY 2015 budget levels, agencies were subject to smaller reductions in the spending caps in 2015 than originally set forth in the BCA.

In the report OMB shows that the defense discretionary budget for FY 2015 of $585.9 billion is down more than $20 billion from FY 2014’s $606.3 billion level, but is coming in right at the revised spending limit under the BBA.  In the non-defense discretionary spending category, federal departments and agencies could spend up to $514.1 billion under the BBA for FY 2015, which would be an increase of more than $9 billion from the $504.8 billion level in FY 2014. However, Congress appropriated nearly $4 billion less than the overall BBA limit for FY 2015. (See table below.) 


Given that Congress has the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) operating under continuing resolution (CR) until mid-February it is possible that some of this budget breathing room will be used when Congress finishes its DHS appropriations bill in the coming weeks.

Implications

As law, the “sequestration ball” remains in the hands of Congress to determine how to move forward. OMB recognizes that “the BBA restored $22.4 billion each ($44.8 billion in total) to the 2014 defense and non-defense categories and replaced the reductions for 2015 that would have taken place with smaller reductions of $44.7 billion to the defense cap and $27.6 billion to the non-defense cap.”  So Congress provided some budgetary relief and breathing room without completely overturning sequestration rules set in the 2011 BCA.

The big question is whether Congress will take similar action for FY 2016 and beyond, or possibly even remove the BCA caps all together – a possibility that remains unclear with the increase in Republican majority in the House and a new Republican majority in the Senate. One thing seems certain. Unless the Congress takes actions similar to the 2013 BBA the sequestration reductions in the BCA will remain the discretionary caps for 2016 through 2021. That will surely color the debate over the FY 2016 budget which was just released this week.

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Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about 
GovWin FIA. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

 

State of the Union – Potential Opportunities and Impacts for Federal Contractors

In Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted issues and initiatives he hopes to tackle in his last two years in office such as improving “middle-class economics,” building U.S. infrastructure, and increasing cybersecurity.  

Reading between the lines we can attempt to predict the impact some of these initiatives may have on the federal contracting community.

The potential upside for federal contractors:  

  • Obama’s plan to improve infrastructure in the form of trains, bridges, ports, and internet speed and access could provide opportunities for heavy construction and IT contractors. 
  • Strengthening cybersecurity efforts may provide companies with additional opportunities to sell cybersecurity services and solutions to the federal government, as well as the commercial market.  
  • Easier, more affordable access to higher education and increased training will provide employers with a larger, better trained labor pool. 
  • The president’s Precision Medicine Initiative may provide contracting opportunities in the area of health IT, health informatics, medical research, medical technology, and medical devices. 
  • Revisions to the tax code may adversely or positively impact contractors and other companies depending on specifics of proposed tax code changes.  
  • The president’s commitment to continue to fight terrorism may provide opportunities for defense contractors. 
  • Obama’s statements about surveillance and privacy allude to continued funding for intelligence agency surveillance programs, but with emphasis on simultaneously safeguarding citizen privacy.  

The potential downside for federal contractors:  

  • Obama’s call for higher wages in the form of equal pay for women and increasing the minimum wage, may negatively impact companies’ profitability.  
  • The appeal for guaranteed paid sick leave for all employees may place a financial burden on small businesses.  
  • Potential new cybersecurity legislation could impose additional security requirements for federal vendors and service providers.  
  • Revisions to the tax code may adversely or positively impact contractors and other companies depending on specifics of proposed tax code changes. 

The President’s FY 2016 Budget Request, due for release in less than two weeks, will bring to light many of the proposals and initiatives mentioned in the State of the Union address, and is rumored to contain a substantial increase over current year budget levels.

For detailed budget information and federal contractor impacts, watch for Deltek’s future analysis of the President’s FY 2016 Budget Request in the coming weeks.

 

DHS Would Get a $400 Million Boost for the Rest of FY 2015 Under House Bill

While most federal departments received their final fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations in mid-December, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was put in a funding holding pattern by the last Congress. Now, the new 114th Congress is in session and the U.S. House of Representatives has moved forward on a funding bill for the department.

In December, Congress passed an FY 2015 omnibus that funded all federal departments through the rest of the fiscal year, ending on September 30, except for DHS, which was funded with a continuing resolution (CR) until February 27, 2015. 

Now, with the DHS CR set to expire in a few weeks, the House has approved a FY 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations bill which would fund DHS through September, provided the Senate can move forward on a comparable version and the two chambers can reconcile a final bill to send to the president by the deadline.

The House bill, H.R. 240, provides a total of $39.7 billion in discretionary funding, which is an increase of $400 million (+1%) over the FY 2014 enacted level of $39.3 billion, which itself was a billion dollars more than White House requested in the FY 2015 budget. If enacted, the $37.7 billion would constitute more than a 3.5% increase over what the president requested for this fiscal year.

The bill and the accompanying Explanatory Statement provide details into agency funding and some specific IT investments areas.

  • Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) – $288.1 million, of which $189.1 million is multi-year money available through FY 2016. The $288.1 million is $31 million over the FY 2014 enacted level. An additional $1 million is provided for the DHS Data Framework initiative and an additional $500 thousand is provided for cyber remediation tools.
  • Cybersecurity – The bill includes a total of $753.2 million for cybersecurity operations in the National Programs and Protection Directorate (NPPD). An additional $164.5 million is provided for NPPD Communications and $271 million for infrastructure protection programs, for an aggregate total of $1.19 billion. Cybersecurity workforce funding of $25.9 million is provided for Global Cybersecurity Management, of which at least $15.8 million is for cybersecurity education.
  • Science and Technology – $1.1 billion, $116.3 million below the FY 2014 enacted level, but $32.1 million above the president’s request. This includes $973.9 million for Research, Development, Acquisition, and Operations.
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – $10.7 billion, an increase of $118.7 million above the FY 2014 enacted level. Of this, a total of $808.2 million is provided for Automation Modernization efforts for TECS, Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), International Trade Data System (ITDS) and others. The bill slates $382.5 million for Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology (BSFIT).
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – $5.96 billion, an increase of $689.4 million over the FY 2014 enacted level. IT funding includes $3.5 million to support enhancements to the PATRIOT system for visa vetting
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – $4.8 billion, a decrease of $94.3 million below the FY 2014 enacted level. Technology provisions include $334 million for Explosives Detection Systems (EDS) Procurement and Installation, of which $83.9 million is discretionary funds. The bill also includes $449 million for Transportation Security Support IT and $295 million for Screening Technology Maintenance.
  • Coast Guard – $10 billion, $159 million below the FY 2014 level but $439.5 million above the president’s request, including $2.5 million to restore cuts to USCG information technology programs.
  • Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) – $124.4 million in discretionary appropriations is provided for the E- Verify program.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – $934.4 million for Salaries and Expenses, down $12.6 million from the FY 2014 enacted level. The bill allows for $7 billion for disaster relief and $2.5 billion in first responder grants, including $1.5 billion for state and local grants; $680 million for Assistance to Firefighter Grants, and $350 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants.
  • Secret Service – $1.7 billion, an increase of $80.5 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. This includes $21.5 million to begin preparation and training for presidential candidate nominee protection for the 2016 presidential election, including for protective vehicles and communications technology. It also includes $45,6 million for investments in Information Integration and Technology Transformation programs.

As anticipated, the House bill restricts the use of funds for controversial White House immigration measures. The House Appropriations Committee Report that accompanies the bill includes an amendment stipulating that no funds, resources, or fees provided to DHS may be used to implement the immigration policy changes that the president initiated last fall.

The ball is now in the hands of the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC), which has just solidified and announced committee chairs after the leadership change resulting from last November’s election. The Homeland Security subcommittee will need to quickly move their bill forward from the last committee action last summer if they hope to make the February 17 deadline, so the clock is ticking.

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Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about 
GovWin FIA. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

 

FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Set to Pass

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015 has crossed a major hurdle to passage before the end of the calendar year as a House-Senate compromise bill has emerged. The final bill has implications for information technology acquisition and management at the Pentagon and beyond.

The legislation is a combination of two bills that each passed last May: HR 4435, which passed the full House, and S 2410, which passed in the Senate Armed Services Committee. As is typical, this year’s NDAA goes well beyond funding of national defense operations to include organizational and acquisition reform efforts and information technology priorities. Below is an overview of the high points of the bill.

Overview

  • Authorizes $521.3 billion in base discretionary defense spending and an additional $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), reflecting the President’s initial request of $58.6 billion and the additional request of $5.1 billion to primarily cover counter-ISIL operations. The FY ‘15 NDAA is $48.0 billion less than the enacted FY ‘14 NDAA.
  • Does not reflect a proposed BRAC round as requested by the Administration, citing concerns that previous rounds did not yield the promised savings but rather imposed large up-front costs only to shift property between federal agencies. The current flux of military size and structure is also cited as a reason to postpone a BRAC round.
  • Selectively supports some White House proposals – like limited compensation increases for military personnel, including a for a pay freeze for General and Flag Officers – while adjusting others – like replacing a 5% reduction in basic allowance for housing (BAH) with a 1% decrease. This NDAA also blocks retirement of the A-10 aircraft, but provides for some reprogramming of those funds to higher priorities if needed.

Reform Efforts

  • Restores the Office of Net Assessment (ONA) to an independent status, reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense, and increases the ONA budget for FY ‘15 by $10 million to $18.9 million
  • Directs the SECDEF to report on the feasibility of reducing or consolidating combatant command functions by FY20 and a plan to implement a periodic review and analysis of management headquarters. This NDAA would also task GAO with assessing the DoD’s headquarter reduction efforts as part of GAO’s previous work assessing HQ growth.
  • Directs the Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, (USD (AT&L)) and senior acquisition executives for the Navy and the Air Force to issue DoD-wide policies implementing a standard checklist to be completed before issuing a solicitation for any new contract for services or exercising an option under an existing services contract. The FY ‘08 NDAA established an annual services contracts inventory requirement that DoD has yet to fully implement.
  • As a cost-control mechanism, the bill requires the Comptroller General to conduct a review of cases in which an acquisition program office believes that the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation has required testing above the required test plan.
  • Directs the SECDEF to provide the congressional defense committees with frequent reports on DoD’s damage assessment resulting from unauthorized disclosures of classified information and steps the Department is taking to mitigate the damage.
  • Provides for an overhaul of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) process to produce a new Defense Strategy Review that is more long-term and strategic in nature and a more useful oversight tool.

Information Technology and Cyber Operations

  • Directs the President to maintain a list of nation-states or individuals that engage in economic or industrial espionage using cyber tools, and allows for the President to impose sanctions on such individuals or nation-states
  • Directs the SECDEF to designate an executive agency for cyber test ranges and another for cyber training ranges to better coordinate and resource each
  • Requires the development of a Major Force Program for cyber to better account for the budgeting and resourcing of cyber operations capabilities
  • Requires mandatory reporting on penetrations of operationally critical contractor networks
  • Requires the development and implementation of operational metrics for the performance of the Joint Information Environment (JIE)
  • Implements the Federal Information Technology Reform Act (FITARA) that has stalled and been removed from last year’s NDAA, according to Nextgov. FITARA will give additional budgetary and management authorities to agency CIOs, although no so much in the DoD. Nextgov also notes that the NDAA also supports federal data center consolidation efforts, the DoD’s move to cloud computing, and a plan to expand the use special IT acquisition experts.

While the final bill still needs to pass both the full House and Senate and be signed by the president, the FITARA provisions should not be a major reason for a presidential veto, according to a Federal News Radio interview with some members of Congress.  

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Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about 
GovWin FIA. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

 

Analyzing Federal Program Overlap is Difficult at Best

Finding duplicative federal programs in order to combine, consolidate, or eliminate them is next to impossible with current reporting mechanisms according to a recent GAO report. 

The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 calls for the creation of an inventory of all federal programs, along with related budget and performance data, which could make it easier to better manage, reduce, or eliminate overlap and duplication.  Over the past four years, GAO has found over 90 areas where the government could benefit from reducing or removing fragmentation and duplication.

However, GAO’s recent report on the status of federal program inventories indicates that inconsistent definitions and information limit their usefulness.  OMB’s inventory guidance allowed for latitude regarding defining programs and the types of information reported.  This has led to non-uniform information across agencies, and made it difficult to spot duplication and overlap. 

Something which seems as simple as just defining what constitutes a “program” is a challenge across agencies.  OMB’s guidance has allowed flexibility in defining programs by allowing agencies to use different approaches based on their missions and programmatic tactics.  But because of these differing approaches, identifying similar programs across agencies is a challenge.

As part of GAO’s study, they attempted to locate programs across agencies related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEMS) using the agency inventories released by OMB in May 2013.  GAO only found nine programs out of 179 that matched exactly, and 51 others that were identified based on their program descriptions. 

GAO attributes the lack of comparability to the fact that the agencies did not work together when developing their inventories.  GAO believes collaboration among the agencies on program definitions and inventories would lead to identifying overlap and duplication. 

GAO recommends OMB and agencies take the following steps to ensure usefulness of program inventories: 

  • Present program-level budget information 
  • Provide complete performance information 
  • Consult with stakeholders

GAO further recommends that OMB require additional agencies to report inventories.  Currently, GPRAMA only requires 24 agencies to report.  GAO also suggests that tax expenditures be included in the federal program inventory, as well as web-based sorting capabilities. 

Threatening to complicate reporting even further, is the on-going implementation of the 2014 Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) which stipulates more program and budget data be displayed on federal websites.

Rooting out duplication, overlap and waste will be an iterative and on-going process.  Contractors need to be aware of advances in identifying overlapping programs, because progress could result in program, project and/or contract consolidations or cuts.  On the flip side, opportunities may arise for contractor assistance with program consolidation efforts.

 

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