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Highlights

The federal government invests billions in information technology (IT) each year to help agencies accomplish their missions. Federal law, particularly the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, has defined the role of Chief Information Officer (CIO) as the focal point for IT management within agencies. Given the longstanding challenges the government faces in managing IT and the continued importance of the CIO, GAO was asked to (1) determine the current roles and responsibilities of CIOs, (2) determine what potential modifications to the Clinger-Cohen Act and related laws could be made to enhance CIOs' authority and effectiveness, and (3) identify key lessons learned by CIOs in managing IT. To do this, GAO administered a questionnaire to 30 CIOs, compared responses to legislative requirements and the results of a 2004 GAO study, interviewed current CIOs, convened a panel of former agency CIOs, and spoke with the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Federal CIO.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget 1. To ensure that CIOs are better able to carry out their statutory role as key leaders in managing IT, the Director of OMB should issue guidance to agencies requiring that CIOs' authorities and responsibilities, as defined by law and by OMB, are fully implemented, taking into account the issues raised in this report.
Closed - Implemented
The Office of Management Budget(OMB)subsequently issued guidance, Management and Oversight of Federal Information Technology (M-15-14), to heads of executive departments and agencies that meets the intent of our recommendation. The memorandum is intended to provide implementation guidance for the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA)and related information technology (IT) management practices. The guidance, among other requirements, outlines specific requirements for agency CIOs. For example, a common baseline must be established for roles, responsibilities, and authorities of the agency CIO in managing IT as a strategic resource. It also aims to strengthen the agency CIO 's accountability for the agency's IT cost, schedule, performance, and security. The guidance provided in M-15-14, if effectively implemented, should help assure that agency CIOs are better able to carry out their statutory role as key leaders in the management of IT as defined by law and OMB.
Office of Management and Budget 2. To ensure that CIOs are better able to carry out their statutory role as key leaders in managing IT, the Director of OMB should establish deadlines and metrics that require agencies to demonstrate the extent to which their CIOs are exercising the authorities and responsibilities provided by law and OMB's guidance.
Closed - Implemented
The Office of Management Budget(OMB)subsequently issued guidance, Management and Oversight of Federal Information Technology (M-15-14), to heads of executive departments and agencies that meets the intent of our recommendation. The memorandum is intended to provide implementation guidance for the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA)and related information technology (IT) management practices. The guidance established deadlines and metrics for implementing its requirements. For example, included as an attachment, OMB provided specific deadlines and metrics required for the Common Baseline for IT Management; the IT Dashboard, Tech Stat; Portfolio Stat; and acquisition management. In another attachment, guidance related to metrics for cost savings, performance indicators, risks management, project activity and data improvement requirements when reported information contains errors is provided. If M-15-14 is effectively implemented, agency CIOs should be able to demonstrate the extent to which authorities and responsibilities provide in law and OMB guidance are being exercised.
Office of Management and Budget 3. To ensure that CIOs are better able to carry out their statutory role as key leaders in managing IT, the Director of OMB should require agencies to identify and document internal lessons learned and best practices for managing information technology
Closed - Implemented
The Office of Management Budget(OMB)subsequently issued guidance, Management and Oversight of Federal Information Technology (M-15-14), to heads of executive departments and agencies that meets the intent of our recommendation. The memorandum is intended to provide implementation guidance for the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA)and related information technology (IT) management practices. The OMB memorandum specifies instances and opportunities wherein agencies are required to identify, document and share lessons learned and best practices for managing information technology. If M-15-14 is effectively implemented, CIOs will be able to share lessons learned and improve work processes and increase cost effectiveness.

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