WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Maine, Monday urged federal agencies to hand over more responsibility to their chief information officers (CIO) to ensure effective management of their technology and information, and to comply with the law.        

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) – in a new report requested by the Senators – found that CIOs generally do not have responsibility for major areas of technology and information management considered essential to effective IT management, including control and influence over IT budgets.         

The government is projected to spend $79 billion in Fiscal Year 2012 on information technology        

“Federal CIOS are critical to ensuring the federal government is managing its information technology resources effectively,” said Lieberman. “With the weakened state of the economy and the battle over the federal budget, missing any opportunity to operate government in a smarter, more efficient way is unacceptable. Particularly troubling is that GAO found many federal CIOs have not been fully empowered to be successful. For example, despite the broad legal authority given to CIOs, many have limited budget authority of IT investment at their agencies. Senator Collins and I will continue our oversight efforts to ensure CIOs are charged with the responsibilities they need to perform their jobs successfully.         

Collins said: “It has been 15 years since the passage of the Clinger-Cohen Act that established the statutory federal CIO role, yet organizational inertia and a lack of control over the budget and workforce remain obstacles to compliance with the law, and more generally, sound IT oversight and program management.

“With OMB estimating that the federal government invested nearly $80 billion on IT investments in FY 2011 alone, the federal government needs to be able to deliver quality IT solutions within acceptable cost and schedule constraints.         

“We cannot continue to have schedule slips, poor mission-related results, and millions of dollars in cost overruns.  The effectiveness of a CIO can make a significant difference on decisions regarding IT investments and issues.  I am concerned that the vision of the Clinger-Cohen reforms has, in some cases, been subverted by bureaucratic maneuvering and turf battles.”         

The report found that federal CIOs do not always have sufficient control over IT investments and frequently are limited in their authority over hiring, firing, and performance decisions regarding the IT workforce.          

Federal IT management has been a perennial on the GAO’s list of agencies, programs, and functions at high risk of waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement.