Information Technology:

State Department Led Overseas Modernization Program Faces Management Challenges

GAO-02-41: Published: Nov 16, 2001. Publicly Released: Nov 16, 2001.

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To promote U.S. interests in the face of rapid economic, political, technological, and environmental change, 24 federal agencies are engaged in foreign affairs activities at 255 overseas locations in 162 countries. The Department of State is responsible for coordinating and supporting federal agencies' international activities and providing a means for effective interagency information sharing. State is leading a multiagency program to modernize the information technology (IT) environment supporting federal agencies' overseas operations. State is in the early, formative stage of a long-term plan to acquire and deploy a common knowledge management system for overseas-based agencies. This system is to provide basic Internet access and e-mail to mission-critical policy formulation and crisis management support. In the near-term, State is using informal management controls, which are adequate given the department's stated purposes and scope of these activities. However, acquiring and deploying system capabilities for operational use, particularly a system that involves multiple agencies and performs mission-critical functions, requires a much greater level of management discipline than that needed for system prototyping and pilot testing. It is appropriate that State has not yet established these rigorous management controls because its focus has been on evaluating system prototypes. Without these more rigorous controls, however, it is unlikely that State and its agency partners will deliver needed operational system capabilities on time and within budget.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State attempted to properly engage and obtain buy-in from its foreign affairs partner agencies, but it was unable to do so. As a result, and consistent with the intent of GAO's recommendation making this agreement on expectations explicit and a condition for proceeding, State cancelled the program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Under Secretary for Management to ensure that this proposal (1) sets expectations for each overseas-presence agency, including the State Department, relative to modernization management and funding and (2) is coordinated with and agreed to by the Under Secretary's counterparts in each of the partner agencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To ensure that key system modernization management controls are implemented before the operational system is acquired, the Under Secretary of State for Management should direct State's CIO, as chair of the Interagency Technology Subcommittee, to ensure that the subcommittee allows only architecturally compliant knowledge management system investments to be approved and funded, unless the subcommittee issues a written waiver in response to a written justification. Furthermore, the Under Secretary should direct the CIO to ensure that architecturally compliant investments in the system be made incrementally.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To this end, the CIO should ensure that processes and structures are established for acquiring the system in a series of smaller increments.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To this end, the CIO should ensure that processes and structures are established for individually justifying investment in each increment on the basis of costs, benefits, and risks.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To this end, the CIO should ensure that processes and structures are established for monitoring actual benefits achieved and costs incurred on ongoing increments and modifying subsequent increments to reflect lessons learned.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To further ensure that key management controls are implemented on the overseas-presence knowledge management system modernization, the Secretary of State should designate as a modernization program priority the development, implementation, and maintenance of an overseas foreign-affairs presence enterprise architecture.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary should direct the Under Secretary for Management to establish an enterprise architecture steering committee, chaired by the Under Secretary and composed of the Under Secretary's counterparts form the other overseas-presence agencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: This steering committee should be assigned responsibility and accountability for ensuring that a complete and approved enterprise architecture is developed and available to guide and constrain overseas-presence system modernization efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To assist the steering committee, the Under Secretary should direct the State CIO to establish an enterprise architecture project office, headed by the recently named Chief Architect, to develop and maintain the enterprise architecture and submit appropriate versions of this architecture to the steering committee for approval.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The State CIO, at a minimum, should ensure that the project office include staff from each of the overseas-presence agencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The State CIO, at a minimum, should ensure that the project office integrate the architecture with these agencies' respective operational and systems environments.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The State CIO, at a minimum, should ensure that the project office adhere, as appropriate, with the federal CIO Council's published guidance on managing enterprise architectures.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To further address State's need to implement modernization management controls, the Under Secretary for Management should direct the State CIO to ensure that the overseas-presence system modernization office, consistent with State's project management requirements and recognized models for effective software acquisition, establishes and implements rigorous and disciplined acquisition processes, including processes for acquisition planning, contractor tracking and oversight, testing and evaluation, transition to support the acquired system, and risk management.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  14. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: Until these recommended modernization management controls are in place, the Secretary should limit further investment in the overseas-presence knowledge management modernization program to conducting ongoing prototyping and limited pilot testing.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  15. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: To provide for an explicit definition and understanding of the respective roles of all overseas-presence modernization agency stakeholders, the Secretary of State should develop and submit a proposal for OMB and/or congressional action, whichever the Secretary deems appropriate, within 60 days of the date of this report that clearly defines and assigns responsibilities and accountabilities for each overseas-presence agency regarding the knowledge management system modernization program.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  16. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was closed as implemented because action taken on another recommendation has satisfied the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: Until these recommended modernization management controls are in place, the Secretary should limit further investment in the overseas-presence knowledge management modernization program to establishing needed modernization management controls.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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