Senators Highlight New Report Detailing Need for Better Oversight of Federal Agencies’ IT Operations Investments

WASHINGTON – Today, Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) highlighted a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found that three federal agencies – Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Treasury and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – failed to properly assess the performance of nearly $2.1 billion worth of Information Technology (IT) investments that are in operation and maintenance phases, as required by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) each year.  

Operations and maintenance of IT systems across the federal government cost taxpayers approximately $54 billion a year. In light of the high level of money going to operate and maintain IT investments, OMB established guidance for federal agencies to use in evaluating the performance of such investments, including whether a sound basis exists for agencies to continue funding them. OMB requires agencies to develop an operational analyses policy and perform such analyses annually to ensure that IT investments continue to meet agency needs. The guidance also includes 17 key factors (addressing areas such as cost, schedule, customer satisfaction, and innovation) that are to be assessed. 

In the report, “Information Technology – Agencies Need to Strengthen Oversight of Billions of Dollars in Operations and Maintenance Investments,” GAO reviewed the performance of operations and maintenance of existing IT systems at five agencies – Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Treasury and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Homeland Security. Of those five agencies, GAO found that DOD, Treasury and VA did not develop a policy and did not perform analyses of 23 IT investments, which total $2.1 billion annually. As a result, GAO recommends that the DOD, Treasury, and VA develop an operational analyses policy and conduct such analyses annually. 

“The U.S. government spends over $50 billion dollars a year to operate and maintain old information technology systems,” said Sen. Carper, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management. “The fact that a number of agencies are failing to properly assess these investments during this key phase is troubling. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and information technology investments are no exception. Clearly, we need to do a better job. The Office of Management and Budget wisely requires agencies to develop and conduct an operational analysis annually to help agencies track the performance and need for such systems in order to achieve more savings. I urge all agencies to step up and meet the Office of Management and Budget’s requirements, and follow the recommendations that the Government Accountability Office included in this report.”

“With over 50 billion dollars of tax payer money at stake there is no excuse for this kind of wasteful spending,” said Sen. Brown, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management. “Instead of wasting money on outdated information technology the federal government should be investing in smart and strategic ways that show a return on investment.”