Managing Technology:

Best Practices Can Improve Performance and Produce Results

T-AIMD-97-38: Published: Jan 31, 1997. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 1997.

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Christopher W. Hoenig
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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.

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