Presidential and Congressional Transition

  • The Management Agenda provides high-level information for new leaders about the critical management challenges facing the federal government and lays out the actions needed to address those challenges.

  • GAO’s Management Agenda

    Chris Mihm, Managing Director, Strategic Issues, describes how the management agenda can help policy makers and other leaders address existing problems and ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of new policies going forward.

    View the Transcript

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  • Manage Finances to Improve the Nation’s Fiscal Condition

    The incoming Administration and Congress face major challenges to improve the nation’s fiscal condition. These challenges include reducing the gap between revenue and spending, addressing a multibillion-dollar tax gap, reducing billions of dollars in improper payments, and improving the reliability of financial information.

  • Manage Acquisitions to Maximize Cost Savings and Performance

    In recent years, the federal government has spent approximately $440 billion annually to acquire goods and services. To maximize cost savings and performance, Congress and the incoming Administration need to address issues involving major systems acquisitions; the protection of critical technologies and supply chains; federal contracting, and services acquisitions.

  • Develop and Manage Information Technology to Meet the Government's Needs

    Advances in information technology (IT) change the way agencies do business. Managing this technological change government-wide poses a number of challenges for the incoming Congress and Administration, specifically in acquiring and operating these systems.


    Challenge: Poor Return on Investment

    The federal government annually invests more than $80 billion in IT, however, investments too frequently fail or incur cost overruns and schedule slippages. In 2015 we designated IT acquisitions and operations as a government-wide high-risk area. We found that agencies have IT projects that perform poorly, are scoped too broadly, and are not designed to deliver functionality for several years. Federal IT acquisition often takes too long and is unaccommodating to the rapid evolution of IT. Chief Information Officers (CIO) do not always have sufficient authority over IT portfolios, which can lead to ineffective executive oversight and governance and can cause federal IT projects to fail.

    IT acquisition reform legislation enacted in December 2014 has strengthened CIO authority in this regard. The law commonly known as the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act aims to improve federal IT acquisition and operations. The law includes specific requirements, such as enhancing Agency CIO authority, making publicly available detailed information on federal IT investments to enhance transparency and improve risk management, and reviewing annually IT investment portfolios.

    Public reporting and transparency are an important oversight component of the management of IT acquisition and operations. As of June 2016, 196 of the federal government’s 746 major IT investments on the Office of Management and Budget’s IT Dashboard—totaling $12.3 billion—were reported as in need of management attention due to their high risk.

    Key Actions Needed:

    1. Strengthen the requirement for agencies to utilize incremental development in acquiring IT investments.
    2. Effectively implement the requirements of the December 2014 IT acquisition reform legislation expeditiously.
    3. Implement outstanding GAO recommendations on how agencies report investment risk on the IT Dashboard.
  • Overall Performance Ratings of Major Investments on the IT Dashboard, as of June 2016

    Title: Overall Performance Ratings of Major Investments on the IT Dashboard, as of June 2016 

Image: Pie chart.

Normal(71.6%):$31.1 billion (550 investments)
Needs attention (21.8%): $2.8 billion (29 investments)
Significant concerns (6.6%): $2.8 billion (29 investments)

Source: Office of Management and Budget's IT Dashboard.  |
  • GAO Contact

    David A. Powner

    Director, Information Technology



    Challenge: Cost Savings Efforts Need Improvement

    In fiscal year 2017, federal agencies requested about $63 billion to fund operations and maintenance of legacy investments, about 77 percent of total IT spending. Many of these legacy systems are inefficient, ineffective, and are becoming increasingly obsolete.

    To save billions of dollars on the operations of legacy systems, the Office of Management and Budget implemented the PortfolioStat program to help identify wasteful, low-value or duplicative IT investments. The program requires agencies to conduct an annual, agency-wide IT portfolio review to reduce spending on common IT-related purchases, such as e-mail and desktop computers. In addition, the Data Center Optimization Initiative aims to close excess federal data centers and optimize the performance of the remaining facilities. Both initiatives strengthen Chief Information Officers’ efforts to save costs.

    Key Actions Needed:

    1. Achieve at least 80 percent of the planned PortfolioStat and data center consolidation and optimization savings.
    2. Implement existing GAO recommendations on improving the performance of the PortfolioStat and data center optimization initiatives.
  • Summary of Planned Fiscal Year 2017 IT Investments

    Title: Summary of Planned Fiscal Year 2017 IT Investments

Image: Pie chart (Total $81.6 billion dollars).

77%-Operations and maintenance
$63.1 billion dollars

$18.5 billion dollars

Source: GAO analysis of agency data.  |
  • GAO Contact

    David A. Powner

    Director, Information Technology


  • Strengthen Cybersecurity Over Sensitive Data and Protect Critical Infrastructure Systems

    Federal agencies and our nation’s critical infrastructures depend on computerized (cyber) information systems and electronic data to carry out operations and to process, maintain, and report essential information. The security of these systems and data is vital to public confidence and the nation’s safety, prosperity, and well-being.

  • Strengthen Human Capital Capabilities to Enhance Performance

    Strategic federal human capital management is fundamental to maximizing the government’s performance and assuring its accountability to the nation as a whole. Challenges for Congress and the incoming administration include addressing mission critical skills gaps, recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce, aligning human capital strategies across government, and changing agency cultures.

  • Collaborate to Achieve National Outcomes

    The incoming Administration and Congress face challenges that involve multiple agencies, specifically: inefficient government operations, insufficient collaboration across agencies, and mismanaged federal grants. Strategies to improve how agencies work together can also help them address these challenges.

  • Improve Federal Performance to Better Achieve Results

    Given the increase in public demands for a more effective and accountable federal government, it is critical that Congress and the incoming administration collect and use evidence to drive improvements and better achieve results. Agencies should use data for decision making, enhance regulatory processes, build evaluation capacity, and improve the visibility of agency-wide risks.

  • Promote Transparency and Open Government to Enhance Civic Engagement and Foster Innovation

    To foster transparency, improve oversight, and enhance public participation in decision-making, Congress and the new administration are challenged to ensure government and public access to reliable and complete federal financial and performance information. Attention to these initiatives can help agencies gather more data, make data more accessible, be more responsive to the public, and involve the public in accomplishing social goals.