Land Management Systems: BLM's Actions to Improve Information Technology Management

GAO-01-282 Published: Feb 27, 2001. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 2001.
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GAO reviewed steps taken by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to strengthen its information technology (IT) investment management and acquisition capabilities. The Bureau took these actions to address recommendations made in an earlier report on the failure of the Automated Land and Mineral Record System (ALMRS) to meet BLM's business needs. GAO found that since 1999, BLM has been working to implement GAO recommendations to determine the usefulness of ALMRS and to assess and strengthen its IT investment management and acquisition capabilities. Although the bureau has not yet finished these efforts, it has begun to apply improved management strategies for selecting IT investments, develop processes and practices for controlling and evaluating investments, and build a more mature systems acquisition capability. However, before completing and institutionalizing new investment control processes, the Bureau has begun moving forward with an IT acquisition. As a result, BLM's efforts may be subject to the same project management and management oversight risks that adversely affected the ALMRS/Modernization.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Interior In order to help mitigate risks associated with moving forward with the GeoCommunicator acquisition, the Secretary of the Interior should direct BLM to adopt procedures to ensure proper management and control over the GeoCommunicator project. The procedures should include (1) consistent project monitoring by senior managers to ensure that cost and schedule are being controlled, benefits are being accomplished, risks are being managed, and strategic bureau needs are being met and (2) comparison of interim results against project estimates through each stage to ensure that the project is progressing as expected and to indicate when actions should be taken as problems arise, including modifying, canceling, continuing or accelerating the project.
Closed – Implemented
In response to this recommendation, a Bureau information technology investment board (ITIB) decision document was provided that showed approval for the GeoCommunicator project to deploy and move forward into the Operations and Maintenance phase. Since that time, the module's performance relative to cost, schedule, and scope has been reported to and reviewed by the ITIB on a quarterly basis. Associated with this recommendation, BLM submitted documentation supporting its assertion that all IT projects are reviewed by the ITIB throughout their lifecycle. This documentation is in the form of BLM policy and requires quarterly reviews of all ongoing IT projects.
Department of the Interior In order to help mitigate risks associated with moving forward with the GeoCommunicator acquisition, the Secretary of the Interior should direct BLM to determine the additional workload and other impacts that implementing the GeoCommunicator module will have on BLM's current computing environment. This assessment should be completed as quickly as possible and evaluated by the Information Technology Investment Board immediately upon its completion.
Closed – Implemented
Subsequent to GAO's report, BLM made the decision to use an Internet Service Provider to host this module rather than use its own resources. As required by BLM, the Internet Service Provider performed functional network load testing to determine the impact on its network before deploying the GeoCommunicator.

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