GAO faults OPM management of retirement systems upgrade

GAO faults OPM management of retirement systems upgrade

The Office of Personnel Management's 7-year-old Retirement Systems Modernization is at risk of becoming a federal systems failure, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

GAO found OPM's project team has yet to sufficiently develop management processes, jeopardizing the initiative's chances of meeting its cost and schedule milestones. 'It is also at risk of falling short of promised capabilities,' the GAO report said.

The fiscal 2004 Treasury, Transportation and General Government appropriations bill mandated the review. Between 1997 and 2001, OPM spent $12 million on planning and analyses. In 2002, lawmakers asked OPM to consult with GAO and in 2003 instituted quarterly meetings with auditors.

In the report, GAO recommended OPM take some immediate steps to right the project. Auditors said the agency should review its requirements to determine which should be mandatory and which should be optional. OPM also should develop a project management process for tracking cost, schedule and performance progress, GAO said.

Along with the evaluation and project management improvements, GAO made six other recommendations:

  • Develop an acquisition strategy for the project's lifecycle that covers data conversion, new technology and all major elements

  • Develop a list of tasks used by more than one application

  • Implement a risk management program

  • Update change management plans

  • Develop a governance structure

  • Develop security plans and requirements for each portion of the project.

OPM officials agreed with many of GAO's recommendations and said the project team already is taking steps to bolster its management processes. OPM has hired a project management consultant to improve its reporting and governance structures and its risk management.

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