Raines' Rules on Federal Information Systems Investments

On October 25, 1996, OMB Director Raines issued a memorandum setting forth guidance under the Information Technology Management Reform Act (ITMRA). Those policies, commonly known as "Raines' Rules," specify that investments in major information systems proposed for funding in the President's budget should:

1. Support core/priority mission functions that need to be performed by the Federal government.
2. Be undertaken because no alternative private sector or governmental source can efficiently support the function.
3. Support work processes that have been simplified or otherwise redesigned to reduce costs, improve effectiveness, and make maximum use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology.
4. Demonstrate a projected return on investment that is clearly equal to or better than alternative uses of available resources.
5. Be consistent with Federal, agency, and bureau information architectures which: integrate agency work processes and information flows with technology to achieve the agency's strategic goals ... and specify standards that enable information exchange and resource sharing, while retaining flexibility in the choice of suppliers and in the design of local work processes.
6. Reduce risk by: avoiding or isolating custom-designed components ...; using fully tested pilots, simulations, and prototypes ...; establishing clear measures and accountability for project progress; and securing substantial involvement and buy-in ... from program officials who will use the system.
7. Be implemented in phased, successive chunks as narrow in scope and brief in duration as practicable, each of which solves a specific part of an overall mission problem and delivers a measurable net benefit independent of future chunks.
8. Employ an acquisition strategy that appropriately allocates risk between government and the contractor, effectively uses competition, ties contract payments to accomplishments, and takes maximum advantage of commercial technology.

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