USDA Information Management:

Extensive Improvements Needed in Managing Information Technology Investments

T-AIMD-97-90: Published: May 14, 1997. Publicly Released: May 14, 1997.

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Joel C. Willemssen
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GAO discussed the need for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to address its long-standing difficulties in managing its substantial information technology (IT) investments.

GAO noted that: (1) a USDA that works better and costs less in the 21st century must have efficient and effective information systems; (2) yet USDA has a long history of poorly planning and managing IT investments with the resulting loss of taxpayer dollars; (3) given USDA's track record, it would be both appropriate and necessary for the Department to demonstrate to the Congress that measurable progress has been made to effectively implement the Clinger-Cohen Act and other legislative mandates, and strengthen Departmentwide leadership, accountability, and oversight of the acquisition and use of IT investments before millions more are spent on additional investments; (4) until and unless USDA can do so, the Congress may wish to consider reducing or limiting USDA's IT funding to only meeting critical information technology needs required to support ongoing operations; and (5) otherwise, USDA risks continuing its legacy of wasting taxpayer dollars on IT investments that are poorly planned and managed, and being unable to operate effectively and efficiently in the next century.

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