WHY OMB’S DIRECTIVE TO RELY MORE ON EVIDENCE-BASED BUDGETING COULD MISS THE MARK
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is directing federal agencies to support their FY’24 budget requests with evidence, statistics, and other analysis. While government decision-making should be based on factors other than political agendas or popular cultural trends, the evidence agencies produce to support their requests is only as good as the systems creating and storing that information. Therein lies the rub. Type “bad data” into any industry publication search engine and you get more hits than a National’s pitcher in the first inning. Contractors know, for example, that information in the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) is widely regarded as “GIGO” data, a term that likely does not require further explanation. Government leaders can’t, and should not, rely merely on “evidence” if such information is based upon inaccurate data. Indeed, OMB seems to acknowledge that, at least to some extent, by also directing agencies to include information on how their investments can combat climate change. Contractors should also be aware that OMB is asking all agencies for recommendations on how their operations, exclusive of funds in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, can absorb a 5% across-the-board cut. While administrations’ do ask for such information, contractors may want to see what agencies put on their lists which are due to OMB on September 12th. One potential silver lining in the OMB request is for agencies to develop a strategic plan for evidence-building that can be used through FY’26. A plan to better capture data that, in turn, can be used to create better evidence, may lead to better decision making.