Information Technology:

Departmental Leadership Crucial to Success of Investment Reforms at Interior

GAO-03-1028: Published: Sep 12, 2003. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 2003.

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The Department of the Interior is responsible for diverse and complex missions ranging from managing America's public lands, mineral and water resources, and wildlife to providing satellite data to the military and scientific communities. To fulfill these responsibilities, Interior invests over $850 million annually--about 6 percent of its total annual budget--in communications and computing projects and systems. Interior's Office of the Secretary and its Chief Information Officer (CIO) are responsible for overseeing processes for managing these investments to ensure that funds are expended in the most cost-effective way in support of the agency's mission needs. GAO was asked to evaluate (1) departmental capabilities for managing the agency's information technology (IT) investments and (2) the department's actions and plans to improve these capabilities.

The Department of the Interior has limited capability to manage its IT investments. Based on GAO's IT Investment Management (ITIM) Framework, which measures the maturity of an organization's investment management processes, the department is carrying out few of the activities that support critical foundational processes. As an initial step to improve its investment management capability, the department has issued a Capital Planning and Investment Control Guide, which describes its approach to IT investment management. However, it has thus far implemented few of the processes described in its own guide. In addition, it has yet to develop an adequate approach to identify existing projects and systems. In order to ensure strong investment management at all levels, the department has also specified a requirement for certifying bureau-level investment processes, but certification has not yet begun. Finally, in order to strengthen the CIO's ability to manage IT investments at all levels, the Secretary of the Interior has issued an order establishing the authority of the bureau-level CIOs; however, the order has not been fully implemented. In order to improve investment management processes, an organization needs to develop and implement a coherent plan, supported by senior management, which defines and prioritizes enhancements to its investment processes. While Interior has undertaken a number of initiatives designed to improve its investment management processes, the department has not yet developed a unified, comprehensive plan to achieve its objective of establishing effective investment management processes, nor has it committed the resources to successfully implement the necessary reforms. Without a well-defined process improvement plan and controls for implementing it, Interior will continue to be challenged in its ability to make informed and prudent investment decisions.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has taken actions that are consistent with this recommendation. Specifically, in July 2006, DOI developed a high-level plan to improve their IT investment process based on stages 2 and 3 of our ITIM framework. The plan established a goal for all Bureaus and departmental offices to achieve ITIM stage 3 by the end of FY 2008. In addition, the plan requires bureaus to implement key ITIM practices, self-assess their progress, and regularly report their progress to the Investment Review Board. Furthermore, DOI has developed a number of other documents, such as the CPIC Guide and the E-Government scorecard, for improving their IT investment management processes.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to develop a unified, comprehensive plan for implementing departmentwide improvements to the IT investment management process that are based on the Stage 2 and Stage 3 critical processes of our ITIM framework.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has taken actions that are consistent with this recommendation. Specifically, in 2005 DOI established a timetable for the IT Management Council, Management Initiatives Team, and Management Excellence Council to begin operating according to the guidance described in the CPIC Guide. According to Interior officials, the three boards are operating in accordance with the most recent version of the CPIC Guide dated February 2005.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to ensure that the plan focuses first on the weaknesses that this report identifies in the Stage 2 critical processes, before addressing those associated with higher stages of ITIM maturity, because Stage 2 processes collectively provide the foundation for building a mature IT investment management process. Specifically, the Secretary of the Interior should establish a timetable for the IT Management Council, Management Initiatives Team, and Management Excellence Council to begin operating according to the guidance described in the CPIC Guide.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has taken actions that are consistent with this recommendation. The DOI CIO has issued policy directives, procedures, and guidance for providing oversight of IT projects as described by GAO's ITIM Framework. For example, Interior's IT Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) Guide, dated February 2005, requires the completion of quarterly scorecards to provide project status on cost, schedule, benefits, and risks. A monthly scorecard is required to report on projects that are outside the acceptable "green stoplight" control range, and a Corrective Action Report is also required for these projects. The CPIC Guide also includes instructions for assessing a project's progress against established performance measures. IT projects with over $1M in development must manage the project in accordance with the ANSI/EIA Standard 748-A for Earned Value Management Systems. In addition, other major investments with little or no development (in steady state) are required to utilize a cost and schedule performance baseline to compare actual performance to planned performance on a quarterly basis.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to ensure that the plan focuses first on the weaknesses that this report identifies in the Stage 2 critical processes, before addressing those associated with higher stages of ITIM maturity, because Stage 2 processes collectively provide the foundation for building a mature IT investment management process. Specifically, the Secretary of the Interior should develop and issue policies and procedures to guide the IT project oversight as described by our ITIM framework, including the review of actual performance information against expected performance by the investment boards and the implementation of corrective actions when performance falls below acceptable levels. Further, the Secretary of the Interior should implement these policies and procedures to accomplish the purpose of project oversight.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has taken actions that are consistent with this recommendation. In April 2004, the DOI CIO issued a departmentwide directive establishing the DOI Enterprise Architecture Repository (DEAR) and its sub-systems, the Bureau EA Repositories (BEAR), as the official source for information on all DOI IT systems and enterprise architecture artifacts. This directive included policy stating that all DOI systems and IT investments will be tracked in DEAR. DEAR will be used to determine which IT systems and investments support DOI's strategic outcomes and measures, functions and information requirements, and approved IT product standards. The data for each system and investment will be periodically updated through the responsible Interior Architecture Working Group team member and/or the appropriate governance group. Bureau CIO's are responsible for ensuring the accuracy and completeness of their respective IT systems inventory and investments as well as validating and mapping these assets to all architectural models contained in DEAR.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to ensure that the plan focuses first on the weaknesses that this report identifies in the Stage 2 critical processes, before addressing those associated with higher stages of ITIM maturity, because Stage 2 processes collectively provide the foundation for building a mature IT investment management process. Specifically, the Secretary of the Interior should develop and issue policies and procedures to guide the project and system identification processes as described by the ITIM framework, including the specification of information required by the investment management process, the sources of such information, and the methods for collecting and retaining this information. Further, the Secretary of the Interior should implement these policies and procedures to accomplish the purpose of IT project and system identification.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has taken actions that are consistent with this recommendation. For example, DOI uses the enterprise architecture (EA) blueprint process to identify business needs by line of business. The EA Division develops policies issued by the CIO and Department that requires the identification of business needs through the blueprint process. DOI issued a Systems Development Lifecycle (SDLC) Guide in September 2005 as guidance for managing the entire lifecycle of a project. Specifically the SDLC identifies the processes and activities necessary to ensure that IT investments established within the DOI CPIC are properly planned and managed, controllable, cost-effective, support the missions and business goals of the organization, and include users in project management throughout a project's life cycle.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to ensure that the plan focuses first on the weaknesses that this report identifies in the Stage 2 critical processes, before addressing those associated with higher stages of ITIM maturity, because Stage 2 processes collectively provide the foundation for building a mature IT investment management process. Specifically, the Secretary of the Interior should develop and issue policies and procedures to guide the identification of business needs as described by the ITIM framework, including the identification of business needs for all projects and the inclusion of users in project management throughout a project's life cycle. Further, the Secretary of the Interior should implement these policies and procedures to accomplish the purpose of identifying business needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has taken actions that are consistent with this recommendation. For example, the CIO issued a memorandum on January 25, 2005 requiring DOI and all bureaus to implement the process improvements (including improvements to the selection process) included in the updated DOI IT CPIC guide by no later than March 31, 2005. In addition, the DOI CIO, Director of Budget, and Deputy assistant Secretary jointly issued a memorandum on October 21, 2005 describing a timetable for the selection of IT investments for the FY 2008 IT portfolio and budget submission in accordance with the DOI CPIC Guide.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to ensure that the plan focuses first on the weaknesses that this report identifies in the Stage 2 critical processes, before addressing those associated with higher stages of ITIM maturity, because Stage 2 processes collectively provide the foundation for building a mature IT investment management process. Specifically, the Secretary of the Interior should establish a timetable for implementing IT proposal selection as described by Interior's CPIC Guide.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has taken actions that are consistent with this recommendation. For example, the DOI CIO issued a memorandum on April 14, 2006 stating that one of their IT performance measures is to achieve Stage 3 of the GAO ITIM framework. In addition, on July 7, 2006 the OCIO released the first of eleven independent reports assessing the DOI's progress in achieving Stage 3 of the GAO ITIM. The report establishes a baseline ITIM stage 3 maturity score and makes recommendations to close outstanding gaps based on self assessment status updates and actions plans. The report established a September 30, 2008, goal for achieving Stage 3 department-wide.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to ensure that the plan next focuses on Stage 3 critical processes, which are necessary for portfolio management, because, along with the Stage 2 foundational processes, these processes are necessary for effective management of IT investments.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has implemented actions that are largely consistent with this recommendation. On May 10, 2006, the Department of Interior (DOI) CIO issued a Secretarial Order (SO) 3244 memorandum along with a compliance worksheet for the bureaus requiring them to specifically report on how they complied with the order. The compliance worksheet specifies milestones for SO 3244 compliance.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to further strengthen the department's ability to oversee bureau investment management processes so that it may ensure that investment management is effectively carried out throughout the organization. The plan should establish a timetable and specific implementation milestones for Secretarial Order 3244.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has implemented actions that are largely consistent with this recommendation. According to DOI officials, certification of bureaus' Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) processes is done as a part of the Information Technology Investment Management (ITIM) maturity process. In addition, DOI CIO issued a Secretarial Order (SO) 3244 memorandum along with a compliance worksheet for the bureaus requiring them to specifically report on how they complied with the order. The compliance worksheet describes the requirements (i.e., criteria) needed for SO 3244 compliance.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to further strengthen the department's ability to oversee bureau investment management processes so that it may ensure that investment management is effectively carried out throughout the organization. The plan should describe acceptable criteria for certification of bureau CPIC processes and establish a time frame for the certification of these processes at all bureaus.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has taken actions that are consistent with this recommendation. For example, DOI's ITIM Maturity Self-Assessment establishes a baseline ITIM maturity score and makes recommendations to close outstanding gaps. According to this document, progress will be tracked on a quarterly basis through September 30, 2008. In addition, DOI's FY 2007 President's Budget GPRA Strategic Plan Performance Measures and Targets establishes a baseline of DOI's capabilities, specifies measurable goals and time frames, and establishes review milestones. For example, it describes mission areas and their associated performance measures and end outcome goals. Within each performance measure are "actual" and "target" measures/goals.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to ensure that the plan establishes a baseline of the agency's capabilities, specifies measurable goals and time frames, and establishes review milestones.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has taken actions that are consistent with this recommendation. For example, DOI uses the President's Management Agenda (PMA) scorecard process to control and monitor the agency's progress on implementing management improvements. According to DOI officials, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Performance, Accountability, and Human Resources has overall responsibility for all PMA scorecards and has established a management structure. The CIO is the lead official responsible for reviewing and signing off on the E-Government scorecards and sets the expectations for the current year. Progress of the scorecard is tracked quarterly by the Office of the Chief Information Officer. In addition, according to Interior officials, the Investment Review Board is intended to improve leadership, decision-making, and oversight of IT investments in the context of the Department's strategic goals and objectives. This board is consists of the CIOs from the Department and each bureau, and other key officials representing IT, business and programmatic areas.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to establish a well-defined management structure for directing and controlling the unified plan with clear authority and responsibility.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has taken actions that are consistent with this recommendation. According to DOI officials, the E-Government scorecard which is one key document used to strengthen the department's ability to oversee bureau investment management processes was approved by the Management Initiative Team (MIT)on April 13, 2006 for fiscal year 2006 and by the E-government team on September 20, 2006, for fiscal year 2007. The E-Government scorecard provides the milestones, requirements, and criteria within five areas, including investment management, to ensure DOI systems are secure, on time, and on budget.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to ensure that the Management Excellence Council, which holds responsibility for department management reform activities, approves the plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Interior (DOI) has largely implemented actions that are consistent with this recommendation. The Department of Interior (DOI) does not report progress made against the plan's goals and time frames to the Secretary of the Interior. However, progress on DOI's bureaus' implementation of key practices required for improving ITIM maturity is tracked by Office of the Chief Information Officer through quarterly control review reports to the DOI Investment Review Board and in quarterly internal scorecard meetings. Additionally, progress is reported in the Government Performance and Results Act required annual Performance and Accountability Report which is signed off by the Secretary of the Interior.

    Recommendation: To strengthen Interior's capabilities for IT investment management and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Interior should direct Interior's CIO to implement the approved plan and report on progress made against the plan's goals and time frames to the Secretary of the Interior every 6 months.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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