IT Dashboard: Accuracy Has Improved, and Additional Efforts Are Under Way to Better Inform Decision Making

GAO-12-210 Published: Nov 07, 2011. Publicly Released: Dec 07, 2011.
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Each year the federal government spends billions of dollars on information technology (IT) investments. Given the importance of program oversight, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) established a public website, referred to as the IT Dashboard, that provides detailed information on about 800 federal 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 performance. In the third of a series of Dashboard reviews, GAO was asked to examine the accuracy of the Dashboard's cost and schedule performance ratings. To do so, GAO compared the performance of eight major investments undergoing development from four agencies with large IT budgets (the Departments of Commerce, the Interior, and State, as well as the General Services Administration) against the corresponding ratings on the Dashboard, and interviewed OMB and agency officials.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
General Services Administration To better ensure that the Dashboard provides accurate cost and schedule performance ratings, the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) should direct its Chief Information Officer (CIO) to comply with OMB's guidance related to Dashboard data submissions by updating the CIO rating for a given GSA investment as soon as new information becomes available that affects the assessment, including when an investment is in the process of a rebaseline.
Closed – Implemented
The General Services Administration (GSA) agreed with our recommendation and GSA's Administrator stated that the agency would take appropriate action to implement it. Subsequently, as we recommended, GSA complied with the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) guidance related to submissions on the information technology (IT) Dashboard. Specifically, GSA now updates the chief information officer (CIO) ratings and CIO comments field for each major GSA investment on a monthly basis and as new information becomes available that affects the CIO's assessment. For example, in April 2012, GSA updated the CIO comments section for the Human Capital Information Technology Services investment to state that the investment was in the process of a rebaseline. Additionally, in July 2012, GSA updated the CIO comments for the Regional Business Application investment to state that a baseline change request for the investment was submitted in June 2012. Further, between January 2013 and July 2013, GSA updated its investment ratings every 30 days, on average. By updating its CIO ratings in accordance with OMB requirements, GSA has increased the transparency of the performance of the agency's investments and, in doing so, allows users of the IT Dashboard to hold GSA accountable for investment results and progress.

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