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OMB's Reforms Can Help Agencies Better Manage Federal IT Projects

Posted on May 16, 2014


Information technology (IT) is critical to the health, economy, and security of the nation. As such, federal agencies plan to spend more than $82 billion on IT this fiscal year. However, as we have previously reported and testified, many federal IT projects have troubled legacies of cost increases, missed milestones, technical problems, and management challenges.

The Office of Management Budget (OMB) and agencies need to provide appropriate oversight and transparency, and avoid duplicative spending on IT investments. Here’s a look at key issues with OMB’s IT reform initiatives.

  • IT Dashboard. The IT Dashboard is a public website that provides detailed information on approximately 700 major IT investments at 27 agencies. We have issued a series of reports on deficiencies in the accuracy and reliability of Dashboard’s cost and schedule data. Most recently, we reported that agencies had removed major investments from Dashboard—a troubling trend toward decreased transparency.

GAO-14-596T Fig 2

Excerpted from GAO-14-596T

  • TechStat sessions. TechStat sessions are face-to-face meetings, intended to focus management attention on troubled IT investments, and terminate those that are failing or not producing results. In 2013, we reported that OMB and selected agencies had held multiple TechStat sessions, but that sessions had not been held for many at-risk IT investments.

GAO-13-524 Highlights Table

Excerpted from GAO-13-524

  • Data center consolidation. In 2010, OMB started a consolidation initiative intended to close 40 percent of federal data centers by 2015, and in doing so, save $3 billion. We found that agencies planned to close almost 1,000 data centers by the end of fiscal year 2014, but that OMB needs to continue its oversight. This area has been included in our annual reports on duplication since 2011.

GAO-13-378 Fig1

Excerpted from GAO-13-378

  • PortfolioStat. OMB’s PortfolioStat initiative requires agencies to annually review their administrative and business IT investments and make decisions to eliminate duplication. We reported that agencies continue to identify duplicative spending as part of PortfolioStat, with the potential to save between $5.8 and $7.9 billion by FY 2015. We highlighted this work in our most recent annual report on duplication.

OMB’s and agencies’ recent IT efforts have resulted in greater transparency and oversight of federal spending, but continued leadership and attention are necessary.


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David A. Powner

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