Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced legislation today to provide better oversight of the $71 billion that federal agencies spend each year on information technology programs, and to ensure essential federal services run as efficiently as possible and do not squander valuable taxpayer dollars. Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) joined the legislation as co-sponsors.
The Information Technology Investment Oversight Enhancement and Waste Prevention Act of 2008 will require federal agencies to regularly report to Congress on significant shortfalls in the cost, schedule, and performance of their IT programs. The legislation will help improve IT project planning, avoid problems in project execution, provide early alerts when problems arise, and promote prompt corrective action.
To help federal programs indentified as being at-risk from going over-budget or missing deadlines, the bill creates an “IT Strike Force” with the skills and background to help troubled agencies make better decisions and spending federal funding wisely.
“Our legislation will go far toward addressing the weaknesses identified by the GAO and will reduce the risks that important federal IT projects will drag on far beyond deadlines, fail to deliver intended capabilities, or waste taxpayers’ money,” said Sen. Collins, Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. “Our government and our citizens will benefit from the change.”
“Many agencies in the federal government are allowed to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on investments that are duplicative, lack clear goals, and are managed by unqualified staff,” said Sen. Carper at a oversight hearing today of his Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and Government Information. “In fact, according to a General Accountability Office report release just today, $25 billion in IT investments are poorly planned, poorly performing, or both. Our bill takes crucial steps to prevent government IT investments from drifting toward delays, cost-overruns and, ultimately, failure.”
“Shining a light on multi-billion dollar IT programs only helps strengthen them,” said Sen. Lieberman. “With this legislation, we can improve management of these critical investments and give Congress a better sense of problems that exist before they get out of control.”
“IT projects within the federal government have been anything but efficiently run, and that’s got to stop,” Sen. McCaskill said. “Oversight is Congress’s job, and this bill is going to make it easier for us to identify ongoing problems and make sure agencies work to resolve them.”