Technology Business Management: OMB and GSA Need to Strengthen Efforts to Lead Federal Adoption

GAO-22-104393 Published: Sep 29, 2022. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 2022.
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Fast Facts

In 2017, the government began implementing the Technology Business Management framework to help federal agencies better manage their IT resources.

This framework includes a standard set of categories that agencies are required to use in their annual IT budget requests. These categories group related IT expenses together, which could provide greater insight into the costs and values of IT resources. It could also enable government-wide comparisons of IT spending.

However, we found that OMB currently requires agencies to only implement half of this framework. We recommended that OMB require agencies to implement the full framework.

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Highlights

What GAO Found

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and General Services Administration (GSA) have taken steps to lead government-wide Technology Business Management adoption, but progress and results are limited.

  • OMB's initial 2017 plans for government-wide adoption required agencies to report IT spending using categories in the first two layers. OMB continued to require reporting of these two layers in subsequent plans. However, 5 years after establishing initial plans, OMB had not expanded on requirements to include the rest of the taxonomy—the categories in layers 3 and 4, and subcategories for all layers (see figure).

Extent That the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Plans Addressed Elements of the Technology Business Management Taxonomy Version 3.0

Extent That the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Plans Addressed Elements of the Technology Business Management Taxonomy Version 3.0

  • OMB and GSA assisted agency efforts to implement the Technology Business Management framework by, for example, developing implementation guidance and a maturity model assessment tool. However, OMB and GSA have not assessed agency maturity. Further, they have not analyzed the quality of agencies' data reported in the first two layers.
  • OMB and GSA released agency-reported data on the federal government's IT Dashboard (layers 1 and 2), but did not disclose that about $31 billion in fiscal year 2021 investments were excluded. Further, they have not analyzed inconsistencies in fiscal year 2022 data, or addressed use of benchmarking that would enable spending comparisons to organizations of similar size or mission.

OMB and GSA officials maintain that Technology Business Management implementation continues to be a priority. Nevertheless, until OMB establishes documented plans and agency expectations for the remainder of the taxonomy, uncertainty will cloud agency efforts. Further, the continuing absence of OMB direction could prevent the federal government from fully achieving intended benefits such as optimizing IT spending.

Why GAO Did This Study

The government has faced longstanding challenges in IT management and spending transparency. In 2017, OMB announced its intention to improve insights into IT spending through government-wide adoption of the Technology Business Management Council's framework.

This framework provides a standard taxonomy that is organized into four layers (cost pools, IT towers, products and services, and business units and capabilities) intended to show an organization's total IT spending from different perspectives. These four layers are comprised of spending categories and subcategories.

GAO was asked to report on Technology Business Management implementation. GAO's objective was to identify progress OMB and GSA have made in the government-wide adoption effort. To do so, GAO analyzed and compared plans against relevant criteria, such as Technology Business Management Council guidance. It also analyzed data, as reported by agencies for fiscal years 2021 and 2022, and interviewed relevant officials.

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Recommendations

GAO is making seven recommendations to OMB and GSA, including establishing requirements for completing the remainder of the taxonomy, assessing maturity of agencies' implementation, and addressing benchmarking use. As discussed in the report, GAO incorporated suggested OMB and GSA revisions for two of the seven recommendations; the agencies had no comments on the remaining five.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget The Director of OMB should direct the Federal CIO to establish plans and time frames for government-wide TBM adoption that address the remaining elements of the taxonomy (third layer, fourth layer, and subcategories). (Recommendation 1)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Office of Management and Budget The Director of OMB should direct the Office of Federal Financial Management and Budget Review Division to work with GSA's TBM program management office to determine appropriate next steps for updating budget object classification codes to better align agencies' financial management systems with the TBM taxonomy. (Recommendation 2)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Office of Management and Budget The Director of OMB should direct the Federal CIO to work with GSA to establish an approach for assessing the maturity of agencies' TBM implementation. (Recommendation 3)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Office of Management and Budget The Director of OMB should direct the Federal CIO to require all agencies to complete and submit the TBM maturity model assessment tool to OMB and GSA. (Recommendation 4)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Office of Management and Budget The Director of OMB should direct the Federal CIO to ensure that known limitations in the TBM data for fiscal year 2021 are publicly disclosed on the IT Dashboard. (Recommendation 5)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Office of Management and Budget The Director of OMB should direct the Federal CIO to analyze inconsistencies in agency-reported TBM data to determine why agencies are reporting differences between their TBM and IT portfolio spending data. (Recommendation 6)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
General Services Administration The Administrator of General Services should direct the Office of Government-wide Policy's Director of IT Data Transparency to ensure that TBM benchmarking functionality is developed for the IT Dashboard. (Recommendation 7)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

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