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Highlights

The federal government invests heavily in information technology (IT). In recent years, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has made efforts to improve the transparency, oversight, and management of the federal government's IT investments. More recently, in June 2009, OMB deployed the IT Dashboard, a Web-based system that provides detailed performance information on federal IT investments. GAO was asked to (1) describe the current number and types of IT investments reported by federal agencies on the IT Dashboard, (2) evaluate the adequacy of OMB's guidance to federal agencies in reporting on IT investments, and (3) evaluate efforts to identify and address potentially duplicative investments. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed data from the IT Dashboard, analyzed 10 federal agencies' investment guidance and reports, and interviewed agency officials.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget To ensure that IT investments are adequately identified and categorized, the Director of OMB should specify which executive branch agencies are included when discussing the annual federal IT investment portfolio.
Closed - Implemented
In the fiscal year (FY) 2014 President's budget request, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) specified which executive branch agencies are included when discussing the annual federal budget for information technology (IT) investments. Specifically, the Analytical Perspectives supplement to the budget lists the 27 federal agencies that are included in the expected federal IT budget for FY2014. Previous budgets did not include this list of federal agencies.
Office of Management and Budget To ensure that IT investments are adequately identified and categorized, the Director of OMB should clarify guidance to federal agencies in reporting on their IT investments by specifying whether certain types of systems, such as those in research and development and space systems, should be included.
Closed - Implemented
In its guidance to agencies on developing their fiscal year (FY) 2016 information technology (IT) budgets, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) updated its definition of IT to be more specific about the types of systems that are covered. For example, OMB's definition now includes supercomputers, software for mission systems, telecommunications, and satellite signal processing as specific categories that are considered IT for the purpose of developing IT budgets. Previous guidance did not include this specific information.
Office of Management and Budget To ensure that IT investments are adequately identified and categorized, the Director of OMB should revise guidance to federal agencies on categorizing IT investments to ensure that the categorizations are clear and allow agencies to choose secondary categories, where applicable, which will aid in identifying potentially duplicative investments.
Closed - Implemented
In the fiscal year (FY) 2014 guidance to federal agencies on preparing the annual exhibit 53s, dated August 3, 2012, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) updated its policy regarding the use of Federal Enterprise Architecture categories. Specifically, for FY2014 submissions, agencies are able to select one primary category and up to four secondary categories for each information technology investment.
Office of Management and Budget To ensure that IT investments are adequately identified and categorized, the Director of OMB should require federal agencies to report the steps they take to ensure that their IT investments are not duplicative as part of their annual budget and IT investment submissions.
Closed - Implemented
At the end of March, 2012, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum to federal agencies regarding implementing PortfolioStat reviews. These reviews are meant to assist in ending the investment in duplicative information technology (IT) investments. According to the guidance, each agency was to hold their first PortfolioStat meeting by August 2012 and is to submit a plan to consolidate commodity IT investments by September 2012. OMB is requiring agencies to document its plan to consolidate their IT portfolios and submit that plan to OMB by September 2012. In addition, OMB is requiring agencies to document their cost savings and cost avoidance due to consolidation beginning in the FY2014 budget process.

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