FAA needs to broaden IT management and oversight, GAO says

FAA needs to broaden IT management, oversight, GAO says

The Federal Aviation Administration needs to improve its software acquisition process and overcome weaknesses that could lead to cost overruns, schedule delays and performance shortfalls, the Government Accountability Office has concluded in two new reports.

FAA performed well in planning projects, managing requirements and identifying technical approaches for IT acquisitions. But the agency's verification, quality assurance and measurement, and analysis need strengthening, GAO said in the first report.

GAO lauded the agency's use of the Integrated Capability Maturity Model to assess the maturity of software development skills.

'The projects that have adopted the model have demonstrated growth in the maturity of their processes, and more and more projects have adopted the model,' GAO said.

But the agency does not require the I-CMM's use, and less than half of FAA's air traffic projects use it. 'The recurring weaknesses we identified in our project-specific evaluations are due in part to the choices these projects were given in deciding whether and how to adopt this process improvement initiative,' GAO said.

The audit agency recommended FAA implement the model or something equivalent throughout the Air Traffic Organization. It also should use standard measurement and oversight processes agencywide, GAO said.

In another report, GAO said FAA's senior IT investment board does not regularly review investments that are in the operational phase. The agency also has not established practices that would let it manage all its investments as one portfolio. Until it does, 'agency executives lack assurance that they are selecting and managing the mix of investments that best meets FAA needs,' GAO noted.

Overall, FAA has established most of the basic selection and control practices to manage its IT investments, GAO said. And it has started efforts to further improve management processes.

Agency officials agreed generally with the audit findings and said they had begun to implement the recommendations.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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