Best Practices Can Improve Performance and Produce Results
T-AIMD-97-38: Published: Jan 31, 1997. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 1997.
GAO discussed how best practices applied by leading organizations can be effectively used to improve the management of information technology (IT) in the federal government. GAO noted that: (1) as a result of legislative changes and new direction from the Administration, agency leaders should begin making technology investment decisions based on careful analyses of relative costs, benefits, and risks; (2) consequently, Congress should be better informed of how technology expenditures are being used to address the pressing business problems of government agencies; (3) more importantly, with an investment approach, IT projects should have a better chance of being initiated, continued, delayed, or cancelled on the basis of mission or operational performance improvements; (4) there are four key lessons learned from GAO's ongoing research and evaluations of strategic information management issues in federal agencies: (a) better facts are needed about the government's IT investments; (b) IT is characterized by high risk and high return; (c) repeatable success takes sound management processes that are applied with relentless discipline; and (d) the challenge is implementation; (5) two key factors will inevitably affect changes to the government's approach to IT management: (a) government leaders must facilitate success; and (b) accountability for results must be reinforced; and (6) budget and appropriations decisions as well as oversight hearings can focus on anticipated risk and return of IT projects, interim performance results, and final evaluations of long-term improvements to program outcomes, service delivery, and cost effectiveness.