GAO: Agencies lag on IT performance, investment management

Less than half of all agencies use IT strategic planning and performance measures and IT investment management practices to make all of their technology decisions, the General Accounting Office said yesterday in a new report.

Examiners said 46 percent of the 26 federal entities reviewed said they always use metrics to gauge planning and performance success of IT projects. Auditors also found only 41 percent of agencies said they use investment management best practices all the time.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) requested the report, Governmentwide Strategic Planning, Performance Measurement and Investment Management can be Further Improved. See the report here.

Collins said she was pleased with the progress agencies are making, but CIOs and IT managers can do more.

'Agencies are doing well in their selection of their IT projects, but oversight of these projects remains weak,' said Collins, chairwoman of the Governmental Affairs Committee. 'Without oversight, there is no way to ensure that the projects are completed on time and within budget, and that they work as anticipated.'

Most agencies, though, said they have at least partially implemented some performance or investment practices, GAO said.

'The lack of full implementation of these practices is of concern because effective strategic planning is important to ensure agencies' IT goals are aligned with the strategic goals of the agency,' GAO said in the report.

GAO asked questions about 12 planning or performance measurement practices and found that five agencies'the departments of Commerce and Veterans Affairs, the General Services Administration, Office of Personnel Management and the Social Security Administration'used eight of the practices. Seven departments said they didn't perform two of the practices.

The audit agency also asked about the use of 18 IT investment practices. GSA said it performed 14 of them and the Defense Department and the Army said they performed 12 of them, the highest totals among agencies.

GAO offered recommendations to each agency on how it should improve its performance measurement and IT investment processes.

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