What GAO Found
Information technology (IT) acquisition best practices have been developed by both industry and the federal government. For example, the Software Engineering Institute has developed highly regarded and widely used guidance on best practices, such as requirements development and management, risk management, validation and verification, and project monitoring and control. GAO's own research in IT management best practices led to the development of the Information Technology Investment Management Framework, which describes essential and complementary IT investment management disciplines, such as oversight of system development and acquisition management, and organizes them into a set of critical processes for successful investments.
GAO also recently reported on the critical factors underlying successful IT acquisitions. Officials from federal agencies identified seven investments that were deemed successfully acquired in that they best achieved their respective cost, schedule, scope, and performance goals. Agency officials identified nine common factors that were critical to the success of three or more of the seven investments.
Officials from all seven investments cited active engagement with program stakeholders as a critical factor to the success of those investments. Agency officials stated that stakeholders regularly attended program management office sponsored meetings; were working members of integrated project teams; and were notified of problems and concerns as soon as possible.
Additionally, officials from six investments indicated that knowledge and skills of the program staff, and support from senior department and agency executives were critical to the success of their programs. Further, officials from five of the seven selected investments identified having the end users test and validate the system components prior to formal acceptance testing for deployment as critical to the success of their program. These critical factors support the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) objective of improving the management of large-scale IT acquisitions across the federal government; wide dissemination of these factors could complement OMB's efforts.
Why GAO Did This Study
GAO has made numerous recommendations to OMB and agencies on key aspects of IT acquisition management, as well as the oversight and management of those investments.