Architect of the Capitol:

Status Report on Implementation of Management Review Recommendations

GAO-04-299: Published: Jan 30, 2004. Publicly Released: Jan 30, 2004.

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The Office of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) plays an important role in supporting the effective functioning of Congress and its neighboring institutions. In January 2003, GAO conducted a comprehensive management review of AOC's operations and made 35 recommendations to help AOC establish a strategic management and accountability framework, improve its management infrastructure and internal control, and address longstanding concerns. In February 2003, the Conference Report mandated GAO to monitor progress being made on the implementation of the 35 management review recommendations.

As discussed in GAO's January 2003 report, many of AOC's management problems were long-standing and its organizational transformation would take time to fully accomplish. Not surprisingly, AOC's efforts in addressing these initial management review recommendations is very much a work in progress. Initial steps are being taken, but a great deal more needs to be done. Moreover, greater effort will have to be made if more timely improvements are to occur. Sustained commitment and assertive involvement of AOC's leadership is key to addressing AOC's long-standing weaknesses and instilling lasting change. AOC is taking the first steps in the development of its management and accountability framework, such as improving planning and organizational alignment through its draft strategic plan. AOC is also strengthening individual accountability for organizational goals through its senior executive performance management systems, but more progress can be made by aligning its employee performance management system with mission-critical goals. AOC needs to take additional steps to strengthen agencywide communications by providing opportunities to gather employee feedback sooner than fiscal year 2005 and by conducting a pilot of its congressional protocols. AOC is making some progress in improving its management infrastructure and internal control. AOC is addressing initial concerns about the lack of consistent human capital policies and procedures. Also, AOC has developed three broad-based action plans to achieve its strategy of institutionalizing financial management best practices. However, while efforts on individual action items associated with the three action plans have begun, many are not scheduled for completion until fiscal years 2006 and 2007. Much work remains to address unplanned action items and complete ongoing efforts in improving financial management. AOC is developing a new IT portfolio management process or investment framework, which it plans to implement in fiscal year 2004 and is also taking steps to develop and use EA. However, while AOC is generally implementing the kind of IT management reforms recommended, GAO makes additional recommendations to ensure that mature investment management and EA processes are developed and implemented. Finally, AOC is addressing GAO's concern about worker safety by developing a hazard assessment and control policy, but this policy is not expected to be fully implemented in all jurisdictions until May 2006. Until AOC completes this policy implementation and its subsequent analysis in all jurisdictions, it will not be able to develop a comprehensive picture of AOC hazards. AOC is also taking steps to establish a project priority framework for better project management and accountability. Also, AOC has made some progress toward adopting a more strategic approach to recycling taking steps to clarify the mission of the program and establishing goals as part of its environmental program plan.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AOC has continued to plan for and implement those practices in our IT investment management guide associated with corporate, portfolio-based investment decision making. AOC has further developed criteria to select investments that best support the organization's strategic goals, objectives, and mission. The agency has begun to apply the criteria to ensure that the optimal IT investment portfolio is selected and funded. AOC has also implemented its IT investment program by developing a prioritized portfolio of investments and overseeing each investment to ensure that it achieves its cost, benefit, schedule, and risk expectations.

    Recommendation: To further its progress in the management of its information technology, the Architect of the Capitol should plan for and implement those practices in our IT investment management guide associated with corporate, portfolio-based investment decision making, such as (1) implementing criteria to select investments that will best support the organization's strategic goals, objectives, and mission, (2) using these criteria to consistently analyze and prioritize all IT investments, (3) ensuring that the optimal investment portfolio with manageable risks and returns is selected and funded, and (4) overseeing each investment within the portfolio to ensure that it achieves its cost, benefit, schedule, and risk expectations.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Our January 2004 report on the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) said that agency protocols would help create a basic understanding between AOC and its stakeholders about how AOC's efforts and resources can be targeted at the highest priorities, as well as transparency about how decisions and tradeoffs can be made and services deployed given the competing demands that confront AOC. We noted that the agency needs to discuss with its stakeholders how protocols will help AOC balance immediate customer needs with the achievement of overall agency strategic goals. Our report also stated that a pilot test of congressional protocols would provide AOC and its customers an opportunity to test the application of the protocols to the various types of customer needs that AOC confronts and to revise those protocols based on feedback obtained during the pilot. As such, we recommended that AOC conduct a pilot of its congressional protocols in one or more of its jurisdictions to determine how well its protocols would work in addressing customer requests for service, while balancing the need of multiple requests with the strategic plan and corresponding project priorities of the agency. As of February 2007, AOC has implemented our recommendation by choosing to pilot its congressional protocols agencywide to avoid potential confusion among jurisdictions operating under different protocols and to take advantage of the benefits of training all employees concurrently. AOC officials stated that AOC expects to receive feedback from its stakeholders during the protocol's implementation and will revise the protocols, as appropriate.

    Recommendation: To further progress in developing its strategic management and accountability framework and improve communications agencywide, the Architect of the Capitol should conduct a pilot of AOC congressional protocols in one or more of its jurisdictions to determine how well protocols would work in addressing customer requests for service, while balancing the demands of multiple requests with the strategic plan and corresponding project priorities of the agency.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation builds upon our recommendation contained in our 2003 review (GAO-03-231) that AOC developed a comprehensive strategy to improve internal and external communications by providing opportunities for routine employee input and feedback. AOC held focus group sessions in September 2004 and has communicated planned actions to employees by issuing three brochures. According to AOC, it has begun to implement several of the planned actions and will continue to communicate with employees as each action plan is implemented. In addition, AOC has issued a focus group guide that outlines procedures for conducting focus groups and reporting on the results.

    Recommendation: To further progress in developing its strategic management and accountability framework and improve communications agencywide, the Architect of the Capitol should gather and analyze employee feedback from focus groups or surveys before fiscal year 2005, as well as communicate how it is taking actions to address any identified employee concerns.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AOC has planned for and implemented the key practices in our architecture management guide associated with leveraging an EA for organizational transformation. Specifically, the agency has ensured that adequate resources are devoted to the program (funding, people, tools, and technology), developed a written policy for architecture development and maintenance; and measured and reported progress against architecture plans. The agency has also developed an architecture that describes both the "as is" and the "to be" environments in terms of performance. Additionally, in June 2010 the agency completed its enterprise architecture security view to describe its "as is" and "to be" security states. Regarding metrics, the agency has developed EA metrics and measures that are used to measure EA progress, quality, compliance, and return on investment.

    Recommendation: To further its progress in the management of its information technology, the Architect of the Capitol should plan for and implement the practices in our architecture management guide associated with leveraging an EA for organizational transformation, such as (1) ensuring that adequate resources are devoted to the program (funding, people, tools, and technology), (2) ensuring that the architecture describes both the "as is" and the "to be" environments in terms of performance, (3) ensuring that architecture business, performance, information and data, applications and services, and technology descriptions address security, and (4) ensuring that metrics are used to measure EA progress, quality, compliance, and return on investment.

    Agency Affected: Architect of the Capitol

 

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