GAO’s reports and testimonies give Congress, federal agencies, and the public timely, fact-based, non-partisan information that can improve government operations and save taxpayers billions of dollars.
The federal government annually spends more than $100 billion on IT investments—many of which have suffered from ineffective management. Congress and the President enacted laws, such as the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), to improve this.
Government spending data is available at USAspending.gov for website users to search, download, and analyze.
The Treasury Department has actively collected feedback from site users, including through usability testing, and has made changes.
The General Services Administration and Office of Management and Budget oversee the Technology Modernization Fund, which awards federal agencies funds to replace aging IT systems. Congress provided an initial $175 million in funding, from which 11 projects received $89 million.
The Department of Defense uses intellectual property (IP) to operate and maintain its weapons systems. IP includes computer software, technical data, user manuals, and more. Over the past 3 decades, we reported that insufficient IP can reduce mission readiness and lead to surging costs.
The federal government faces a severe shortage of digital expertise in fields such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. A recent report urged establishing a new service academy—similar to the military academies—to train future digital civil servants.
The IRS reported spending about $2.8 billion in FY 2020 on its IT systems for collecting taxes, distributing refunds, and more.
According to the IRS, the five IT systems in our review met most of the performance goals it had set for FYs 2019 and 2020.
Over the past few years, the Department of Defense has been updating how it develops and acquires software for its weapon and business IT systems. It established a software acquisition pathway emphasizing rapid delivery and user engagement, for example, through Agile software development.