WASHINGTON, D.C.—A General Accounting Office (GAO) report released today shows that federal agencies need to improve their oversight of information technology (IT) strategic planning, performance measurement, and investment management. The GAO report was requested by Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME), House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) and Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census.
“Agencies are doing well in their selection of their IT projects, but oversight of these projects remains weak,” said Senator Collins. “Without oversight, there is no way to ensure that the projects are completed on time, and within budget, and that they work as anticipated.
“We owe it to taxpayers to improve the management of our IT investments, which total more than $60 billion,” she added. “Putting good management practices in place—and following them—will help to ensure that our tax dollars are wisely spent.”
The Paperwork Reduction and Clinger-Cohen Acts and subsequent legislation sought to ensure that new IT projects are integrated with overall agency missions, goals and existing systems; that agencies have enterprise architectures to ensure that the new systems are needed and are the correct systems for the job; and that agencies have mechanisms in place to ensure that projects meet their goals.
In all of these areas, the federal government’s results are mixed. Agencies tended to have strategic plans and goals for their IT investments, but the goals were not always linked to trackable performance measures.
“Agencies’ full use of IT strategic planning, performance measurements, and investment management practices needs to be increased. If the Federal government is going to spend over $60 billion a year on IT products, then 100% of the agencies should have these measures in place; the taxpayers deserve nothing less. No country, government, agency, or IT shop should be complacent. Overall results are encouraging but so much more can be done. At the end of the day, agencies need to realize that it does not matter how much money you spend on IT, but how you spend the money,” said Representative Davis.
“While I am pleased that there is evidence of improvement in the attention being provided by federal agencies to issues of strategic planning, investment management and performance measurement related to information technology spending, it is equally clear that there is much work yet to be done. As the largest purchaser of IT products and services in the world, the federal government has an inherent responsibility to demand that agencies manage those investments in a manner that produces the greatest efficiency, productivity and cost-effectiveness for the agency and on behalf of the American taxpayer. My Subcommittee is committed to continuing its aggressive oversight of these matters,” stated Representative Putnam.
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Government Reform Committee have jurisdiction over e-government initiatives and government management.
The GAO report is available online at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0449.pdf .