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Highlights

Federal IT spending has risen to an estimated $79 billion for fiscal year 2011. To improve transparency and oversight of this spending, in June 2009 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) deployed a public website, known as the IT Dashboard, which provides information on federal agencies' major IT investments, including assessments of actual performance against cost and schedule targets (referred to as ratings). According to OMB, these data are intended to provide both a near real-time and historical perspective of the performance of these investments. GAO was asked to (1) examine the accuracy of the cost and schedule performance ratings on the Dashboard for selected investments and (2) determine whether the data on the Dashboard are used as a management tool to make improvements to IT investments. To do so, GAO selected 8 major investments from 5 agencies with large IT budgets, compared its analyses of the selected investments' performance to the ratings on the Dashboard, and interviewed agency officials about their use of the Dashboard to manage investments.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget To better ensure that the IT Dashboard provides meaningful ratings and accurate investment data, the Director of OMB should include in its next annual Implementation of the E-Government Act report the effect of planned formula changes on the accuracy of data.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

In response to our recommendation, in its fiscal year 2010 Report to Congress on the Implementation of The E-Government Act of 2002, OMB included a statement on the effect of its planned IT Dashboard formula changes on the accuracy of performance information. Specifically, OMB reported that the July 2010 update to the IT Dashboard included new cost and schedule calculations to rate major investments, which OMB stated has resulted in improvements to the timeliness of cost and schedule reporting, reporting of in-progress work, and precision of ratings. As a result, the IT Dashboard should feature more accurate cost and schedule performance ratings, which may help OMB, other oversight bodies, and the general public hold the government agencies accountable for results and progress.
Office of Management and Budget To better ensure that the IT Dashboard provides meaningful ratings and accurate investment data, the Director of OMB should develop and issue clear guidance that standardizes milestone reporting on the Dashboard.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

In response to our recommendation, in July 2011, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued new guidance that stated that investments being reported to the IT Dashboard should be broken up into project segments of six months or less. Additionally, the guidance stated that agencies must report, at a minimum, all projects with any ongoing activities that started in a previous fiscal year, as well as activities that are scheduled to start in the current fiscal year. As a result, the IT Dashboard should feature more standardized project information, which should enable more accurate performance ratings.

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