Information Resources Management:

Initial Steps Taken But More Improvements Needed in AID's IRM Program

IMTEC-92-64: Published: Sep 29, 1992. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 1992.

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GAO reviewed the Agency for International Development's (AID) information resources management (IRM) program, focusing on: (1) whether the program meets federal IRM quality criteria; and (2) strategic IRM planning efforts to address IRM deficiencies and requirements.

GAO found that: (1) the AID IRM program attempts to provide quality information to support agency operations and fulfill reporting requirements; (2) the AID management framework is inadequate to support an effective IRM program; (3) both the Senior AID IRM Official and IRM Director lack the proper authority to enforce agencywide IRM compliance, and are constrained in meeting IRM objectives; (4) problems that inhibit AID from implementing a quality IRM program include a lack of a specific agency strategic mission, inadequate planning process links to agency business plans and user input, a budget process separate from IRM plan initiatives, and IRM initiatives that are not coordinated to assist in implementing IRM goals; (5) AID policies and standards are outdated, inadequate, and not centrally managed, and lack controls, accountability and training to ensure implementation of IRM initiatives; (6) AID managers have a lack of understanding regarding the purpose or benefits of IRM; (7) information management has received a low priority, resulting in poor data administration and failure to identify information requirements and technology needs; and (8) AID has made progress in acquiring information technology, but the lack of IRM initiatives and identification of information requirements creates questions about its ability to meet its information needs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The agency has undertaken several actions to educate agency management on IRM responsibilities. The agency, with these actions, met the intent of the recommendation.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that information resources are managed to meet agency mission and business needs, the Administrator, AID, should direct the Senior IRM Official to establish an effective management structure by educating agencywide decision makers on the benefits of IRM initiatives and holding them accountable for implementing these initiatives.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID has developed, updated, and consolidated its IRM policies. AID officials stated that they completed this process by the second quarter of fiscal year 1994.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that information resources are managed to meet agency mission and business needs, the Administrator, AID, should direct the Senior IRM Official to establish an effective management structure by placing priority on developing, updating, and consolidating policies and standards to guide users of information resources.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Action completed on October 23, 1992, meets the intent of the recommendation, by establishing an Information System Plan (ISP) with a timetable and estimated resource requirements for implementing an agency-wide, integrated management information system. The ISP was approved by senior management on October 23, 1992.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that information resources are managed to meet agency mission and business needs, the Administrator, AID, should direct the Senior IRM Official to establish an effective management structure by: (1) formalizing its IRM planning process so that it includes systematic participation by all levels of the organization; (2) requiring that at least major organizations, such as missions and bureaus, develop IRM plans based on the AID business plan and strategic IRM plan; (3) ensuring coordination of initiatives for effective plan implementation; and (4) linking to the agency budget process. At a minimum, this linkage should include a funding plan that supports IRM at a level commensurate with expressed agency commitment to improving IRM operation.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Action completed on August 26, 1992.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that information resources are managed to meet agency mission and business needs, the Administrator, AID, should formalize the designation of the AID Senior IRM Official and assign agency-wide leadership for IRM to this official.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The agency has requested clarification on mission from Congress, and has established an information engineering project to meet the intent of the recommendation. This recommendation is also part of an overall GMR report. Therefore, GAO can consider this recommendation as action completed, agency responsive to intent.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that information resources are managed to meet agency mission and business needs, the Administrator, AID, should develop a functional business plan to provide the agency with a framework for conducting IRM.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID officials stated that they had completed the requirements identification portion of their information architecture development process. The next phase of the process will involve systems procurements. GAO will observe the budget process for fiscal year 1994 to see if AID meets the intent of the report recommendation in its hardware and software procurements. IRM officials at AID received an award from GSA/GCN for its leadership in IRM. AID officials told GAO that they have completed their plans based on requirements identified.

    Recommendation: To ensure that information requirements are driving the agency's technology investment, the Administrator, AID, should direct the IRM organization to focus its efforts and resources on completing initiatives to identify information needs. Once these information needs are determined, the agency can best determine what hardware systems and software applications are required to address them.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

 

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