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The Importance of CPIC in the Age of Sequestration

paper tiger
CPIC and OMB Business Cases – Not Just a Paper Tiger

The age of sequestration has started; several departments across the federal government have seen significant budget cuts. As departments scramble to find funding and make the appropriate adjustments to their budgets for Fiscal Year (FY) 14 and beyond, it can be tempting to cut support for the Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) process. The mantra “do more with less” may lead program managers to offer up cuts to CPIC as they may see CPIC support as just a reporting requirement (via the Office of Management and Budget [OMB]) versus a set of guiding principles to manage an investment.

Because of sequestration, project managers now more than ever will need to utilize CPIC and its set of management principles and tools to select and manage their investments wisely to maximize value to the organization.  In the first of a series of posts on “doing more with less,” I offer reasons why CPIC is not just a paper tiger, plus three ways to make it work for you.

Not the OMB 300/53 Paper Tiger

What exactly is CPIC? Governed by the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 with guidance from OMB via Circular A-130 and A-11 Part 7, CPIC is a set of principles that governs the acquisition, use, and disposal of information technology (IT) assets across the Federal Government. These are accomplished via the four phases: Pre-select/Analyze, Select, Control, and Evaluate.

  • Pre-select / Analyze – Initial decision to move forward with the investment;
  • Select – Investment is approved and funds allocated via the Department’s governance process;
  • Control – Implementation of the Investment; execution, monitor and control of investments; and
  • Evaluate – Conduct a Post Implementation Review (PIR) for successful implementation and/or annual Operational Analysis to assess how well an investment is performing and if necessary, terminate the investment.

Successful execution of this structured process would ensure that an investment aligns with a Departments’ mission and maximizes the return on investment. The OMB Exhibit 300 and Exhibit 53 is an output via the Control Phase for those investments in Operations and Maintenance (O&M), or across all phases in the case of an investment in the Development Modernization and Enhancement stage of its life.

Why cutting CPIC is the wrong decision
Program Managers need to take a hard look at what it takes to make a program successful; CPIC support can be your lens. Through the use of CPIC support, an organization can establish and help advance a formal set of processes at the enterprise level that could be grounded in an industry standard framework such as that found in the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). These processes should integrate activities across the organization, e.g. acquisition, budget, IT, etc. It takes people who are skilled and knowledgeable in implementing these principles and processes, while employing an integrative approach through continuous proactive management.

Cutting CPIC resources can jeopardize an agency’s means to rationalize its portfolio and yield greater ROI – in other words, cutting resources can prevent an organization from seeing the forest for the trees.

Continuous management increases success
Continuous proactive management of your investment starts with seeing the CPIC process as a planning and managing tool to increase chance of success (and your CIO score) and not just a paper tiger.

Improved and consistent compliance from following the CPIC process can prove why CPIC resources should not be reduced or eliminated. I would like to offer you a list of takeaways organizations may utilize to maximize the value of CPIC resources:

  • Form diverse and clearly focused Integrated Project Teams (IPTs)
    • Act as a liaison to integrate groups across Acquisition, Enterprise Architecture, Strategy, Budget, and Security to maximize information sharing
    • Document clear roles and responsibilities in IPT charter
  • Execute repeatable, clear processes
    • Ensure the process is followed consistently across the organization, e.g. IPT
    • Train PM’s and other key stakeholders, especially leadership on the process
    • Establish benchmarks for the process
  • Implement CPIC process performance metrics, including timeliness and compliance
    • Establish frequent reviews to identify and mitigate program risks early
    • Provide outreach services to assist PMs and other stakeholders, e.g. business owners

Having the right resources that know and practice solid project management principles is important to obtain the desired results in CPIC, not just because it’s required, but because it’s the right thing to do!

Next week on Integrity Matters: The importance of communication to the CPIC process.


Business Case Primer: How OMB 300/53 Can Lead to All-Green Scores

OMB 300/53 Business Case: The Path to Green Scores, Part II