Carper Applauds Administration Efforts to Streamline IT Investments That Saved Taxpayers $337 Million

Urges House Passage of His Legislation to Permanently Improve Oversight and Waste Prevention for Federal IT Projects

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, commended the Obama Administration’s streamlining of federal information technology (IT) contracts, saving a total of $337 million taxpayer dollars and taking another important step to root out wasteful spending within the federal government. 


The action mirrors several key provisions in legislation authored by Sen. Carper and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), S. 920, the IT Oversight Enhancement and Waste Prevention Act of 2009, that was approved by the Senate in June and is pending in the U.S. House of Representatives. In July of this year, Sens. Carper and Collins released a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which they requested, highlighting government agencies’ continued mismanagement of billions of dollars on information technology (IT) investments because of poor management oversight. Following that GAO report, Sens. Carper and Collins sent a letter to the heads of federal agencies requesting that they ensure their agency uploads accurate and timely information on the status of their IT investments. 


The Obama Administration’s announcement comes in conjunction with the release of another GAO study requested by Sen. Carper, examining the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) efforts to modernize federal agencies’ core financial systems, including IT investments.  The report titled Financial Management Systems: Experience with Prior Migration and Modernization Initiative Provides Lessons Learned for New Approach (GAO-10-808) identifies the steps agencies have taken towards modernizing their core financial systems and assesses the reported benefits and significant challenges associated with OMB’s new financial systems modernization approach.


"The announcement by the Administration that they will be pulling the plug on over $300 million worth of IT investments that time and again have failed to deliver on their promises was a welcome step in the right direction," said Sen. Carper.  "In fact, this should have happened a long time ago.  For years my colleagues and I urged the previous Administration to hold agencies and contractors accountable for the skyrocketing costs and extended time lines on these failing investments.  For far too long we threw good money after bad and I want to commend this White House for not sweeping these kinds of difficult management problems under the rug for someone else to deal with.  I look forward to continuing to work with the President and his Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, on these issues to ensure we are watching out for the American taxpayer.  Government contracts shouldn’t be blank checks for companies who can’t deliver and agencies who can’t manage.   Families across our nation understand the reality of staying within a budget and we are going to make sure agencies make the tough calls necessary to cut costs and achieve better value for the taxpayers’ dollar."


"While it’s clear we are headed in the right direction, we need to make sure we keep up the momentum," continued Sen. Carper.  "This new approach to better managing our nation’s information technology investments has us entering some uncharted waters and today’s report released today by the Government Accountability Office highlights some key concerns and observations that I urge the Office of Management and Budget to review.   We have had years of failures and false starts and it’s important we keep these lessons learned in mind. There remain some unanswered questions for agencies, the private sector, and those of us in Congress, and I look forward to greater detail from the Administration in the months to come.  Although the Obama Administration has shown great leadership in tackling this problem, these common sense measures should be something that every subsequent Administration has to do.  That’s why I also hope that my colleagues in the House of Representatives will soon pass common sense legislation that I’ve authored with my colleague Sen. Collins which would require Federal agencies to rigorously plan IT investments and report on cost overruns and schedule delays."


Some highlights from the report, Financial Management Systems: Experience with Prior Migration and Modernization Initiative Provides Lessons Learned for New Approach (GAO-10-808):


. "Until a well-defined concept of operations is developed, questions remain on how the proposed governmentwide solutions can be integrated with current and planned agency financial management systems."


. "Articulating key aspects of a strategic plan, such as goals and performance plans clearly linked to strategies for achieving them and expressed in an objective, quantifiable, and measurable form are also critical for the success of OMB’s new approach."


. "In developing its strategy, it is also important for OMB to clarify the need to mitigate the risks involved with the new requirements for agencies to revise project plans to shorter increments. These risks include agencies adopting a schedule-driven approach rather than focusing on achieving event-driven results consistent with agency needs."


. "As part of its revisions to OMB Circular No. A-127, several clarifications would help provide agencies with direction to implement OMB’s new approach, including (1) the requirements for using a shared service provider, (2) the new process for developing and updating federal financial management system requirements and standard business processes, and (3) the performance-based approach for determining FFMIA compliance."


. "Addressing these and other identified key issues and overcoming the historical tendency for agencies to view their needs as unique and resist standardization will depend on prompt and decisive action to develop an effective governmentwide modernization strategy and related guidance."


. "To ensure taxpayers’ dollars are used effectively and efficiently, continued congressional oversight will be crucial for transforming federal financial management systems to better meet federal government needs."


To read a copy of the full GAO report please click here.