DOD needs to buck up business systems oversight, GAO says

Congress should tighten its oversight of the Defense Department's business systems modernization, a General Accounting Office auditor told House lawmakers this week.

'DOD needs to put in place controls over their projects. There are not a lot of success stories at DOD when it comes to IT management,' said Gregory D. Kutz, GAO's director of financial management and assurance.

Kutz unveiled GAO's findings at a joint hearing of the House Government Reform subcommittees on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations and on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census.

He said Congress should consider establishing an investment review panel as it has done with other problematic modernization programs, such as those at the Federal Aviation Administration and the IRS.

To that end, GAO recommended Congress create a centralized fund for the nearly $18 billion DOD has requested for business systems modernization in fiscal 2004.

DOD managers are aware of the systems challenge they face and are working on a business systems enterprise architecture, said JoAnn Boutelle, DOD's deputy chief financial officer. The architecture will be finished in the next 45 days, she said.

The hearing came just as GAO released its third report in three years that found waste, risk and pervasive weaknesses within Defense.

GAO reiterated a suggestion to lawmakers that the department create a chief management officer post with responsibility for overseeing IT projects.

The current oversight structure is too complicated, with the comptroller, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, and the CIO sharing supervision, said the report, DOD Business Systems Modernization: Continued Investment in Key Accounting Systems Needs to be Justified.

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