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The White House, Executive Order 13011: Federal Information Technology, 61 Fed. Reg. 37657-37662 (July 16, 1996) (full-text).


This Executive Order was intended to improve federal IT management and promote a coordinated approach to its application and use across the executive branch.[1] The directive prescribes, as a matter of policy, the executive agencies significantly improve the management of their information systems, including the acquisition if IT, by implementing the relevant provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 (PRA) and the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996;[2] refocus IT management to support directly their strategic missions, implement an investment review process that drives budget information and execution for information systems, and rethink and restructure the way they perform their functions before investing in IT to support that work; establish clear accountability for IRM activities by creating agency CIOs with the visibility and management responsibilities necessary to advise agency heads on the design, development, and implementation of those information systems; and cooperate in the use of IT to improve the productivity of federal programs and to provide a coordinated, interoperable, secure, and share government-wide infrastructure that is provided and supported by a diversity of private sector suppliers and a well-trained corps of IT professionals.

Agencies are also directed to establish an interagency support structure that builds on existing successful interagency efforts and provides expertise and advice to agencies; expand the skill and career development opportunities of IT professionals; improve the management and use of IT within and among agencies by developing IT procedures and standards and by identifying and sharing experiences, ideas, and promising practices; and provide innovative, multidisciplinary, project-specific support to agencies to enhance interoperability, minimize unnecessary duplication of effort, and capitalize on agency successes.

The directive details new responsibilities for agency heads, including effectively using IT to improve mission performance and service to the public. Strengthening the quality of decisions about the employment of information resources to meet mission needs through integrated analysis, planning, budgeting, and evaluation processes is another duty, including (1) determining, before making investments in new information systems, whether the government should be performing the function, if the private sector or another agency should support the function, and if the function needs to be or has been appropriately redesigned to improve its efficiency; (2) establishing mission-based performance measures for information systems investments, aligned with agency performance plans prepared pursuant to the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993;[3] (3) establishing agency-wide and project-level management structures and processes responsible and accountable for managing, selecting, controlling, and evaluating investments in information systems, with authority for terminating information systems when appropriate; (4) supporting appropriate training of personnel; and (5) seeking the advice of, participating in, and supporting the interagency support structure established elsewhere in the order.

Additional responsibilities include selecting CIOs with the experience and skills necessary to accomplish the duties prescribed in existing law and policy, and involving these officials in appropriate processes and decisions at the highest level of the agency; ensuring that the information security policies, procedures, and practices of the agency are adequate; structuring, where appropriate and in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and OMB guidance, major information systems investments into manageable projects as narrow in scope and brief in duration as practicable, consistent with the Clinger-Cohen Act; and, to the extent permitted by law, entering into a contract that provides for multiagency acquisitions of IT as an executive agent for the government in accordance with OMB direction.

The interagency support structure created by the directive includes the establishment of a Chief Information Officers Council to serve as the principal interagency form to improve agency practices on such matters as the design, modernization, use, sharing, and performance of agency information resources. The council is tasked with developing recommendations for overall federal IT management policy, procedures, and standards; sharing experiences, ideas, and promising practices, including work process redesign and the development of performance measures, to improve the management of information resources; identifying opportunities and making recommendations for, and sponsoring cooperation in, using information resources; assessing and addressing the hiring, training, classification, and professional development needs of the government with respect to IRM; making recommendations and providing advice to appropriate executive agencies and organizations, including OMB, regarding the governmentwide strategic plan required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995; and seeking the views of the U.S. Chief Financial Officers Council, the Government Information Technology Services Board, the Information Technology Resources Board, the Federal Procurement Council, industry, academia, and state and local governments, as appropriate, on matters of concern to the CIO Council. The membership of the council consists of the CIOs and deputy CIOs of 29 specified entities, two representatives from other agencies, and six other designated officials. It is chaired by the OMB deputy director of management.

The order also mandated the Government Information Technology Services Board to ensure the continued implementation of the IT recommendations of the National Performance Review and to identify and promote the development of innovative technologies, standards, and practices among the agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector. Composed of executive agency personnel having proven expertise or accomplishments in the board's areas of responsibility, the panel was tasked with making recommendations to the CIO Council, OMB, and others, as appropriate, and otherwise help to create opportunities for cross-agency cooperation and intergovernmental approaches in using information resources to support common operational areas, developing and providing shared government-wide infrastructure services, and developing standards and guidelines pertaining to federal information systems, consistent with the Computer Security Act of 1987, as amended. In April 2000, the board was absorbed by the new Electronic Government Committee of the CIO Council.[4]

In addition, the order establishes the Information Technology Resources Board to provide independent assessments to assist in the development, acquisition, and management of selected major information systems and to provide recommendations to agency heads and OMB as appropriate. The board is tasked with reviewing, at the request of an agency and OMB, specific information systems proposed or under development and making recommendations regarding the status of such systems or next steps; publicizing lessons learned and promising practices based on information systems reviewed by the board; and seeking, as appropriate, the views of experts from industry, academia, and state and local governments on matters of concern to the board. The panel's membership is composed of agency personnel, based upon their knowledge if IT, programs, or acquisition management within executive agencies.

Finally, the order sets out certain responsibilities for selected executive branch officials. The OMB director is tasked with evaluating agency IRM practices and, as part of the budget process, analyzing, tracking, and evaluating the risks and results of all major capital investments for information systems; notifying an agency if he or she believes that a major information system requires outside assistance; providing guidance on the implementation of the order and on the management of information resources to the agencies and to the boards established by the directive; and evaluating the effectiveness of the management structure prescribed in the order after three years and making recommendations for appropriate changes.

Under the direction of OMB, the Administrator of General Services, among other duties, develops, maintains, and disseminates for agency use, as requested by OMB or the agencies, recommends methods and strategies for the development and acquisition of IT; conducts and manages outreach programs in cooperation with agency managers; serves as a focal point for liaison on IRM with state and local governments and nongovernmental international organizations; supports the Secretary of State in liaison, consultation, and negotiation activities with intergovernmental organizations regarding IRM matters; assists OMB, as requested, in evaluating agencies' performance-based management tracking systems and their achievement of cost, schedule, and performance goals; and provides support and assistance to the interagency groups established by the order.

The Secretary of Commerce is responsible for carrying out the standards responsibilities assigned by the Computer Security Act of 1987, as amended by the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, taking into consideration the recommendations of the agencies, the CIO Council, and the Information Technology Resources Board. The Secretary of State, as noted above, has responsibility for liaison, consultation, and negotiation with foreign governments and intergovernmental organizations on all matters related to IRM; ensures, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, that the United States is represented in the development of international standards and recommendations affecting IT; and advises the OMB director on the development of U.S. positions and policies on international information policy and technology issues affecting federal government activities and the development of international IT standards.


  1. 3 C.F.R., 1996 Comp., at 202-09.
  2. 110 Stat. 3009-393 (1996).
  3. 42 Stat. 285; 31 U.S.C. §115 note.
  4. Christopher J. Dorobek, "CIO Council's New Committee Absorbs GITS Board," 19 Gov't Computer News, Apr. 17, 2000, at 16.