Transportation CIO should better account for budget

Transportation CIO should better account for budget

The Transportation Department needs to better account for its CIO's budget and improve oversight of its IT investments and contract services, the department's inspector general said in a report released today.

In recent years, CIO Dan Matthews' office has assumed more responsibility for overseeing IT investments and project security as well as for managing the voice and data networks at Transportation headquarters. Although the CIO's budget requests more than tripled to $23.4 million in fiscal 2004 from $6.3 million in fiscal 2002, the requests did not adequately describe the activities to be performed with those funds or the expected benefits, the IG said. Without sufficient project details and coordination, the CIO's office and individual Transportation agencies could end up requesting duplicative or overlapping IT investments.

The IG recommended that in future budget submissions the CIO disclose all its responsibilities and other sources of funding, such as the Working Capital Fund that supports common administrative services provided to individual agencies. The CIO budget request, which includes investments for enterprise architecture, financial and procurement management, and IT infrastructure, represents only a small portion of the resources the CIO manages.

The CIO is responsible for ensuring that Transportation's $2.7 billion in IT investments are cost-effective, and an Investment Review Board, which the CIO leads, decides whether to approve those investments.

'Specifically, we were concerned that the board had focused its reviews on departmentwide IT projects, such as implementation of a new departmental accounting system, and had provided little oversight of operating agency-specific IT investment projects,' the IG said. Over 90 percent of Transportation's IT budget funds go directly to agencies, the majority to the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to the report, the CIO should develop a multiyear plan to enhance IT investment management, IT security, e-government services, contractor oversight and coordination among Transportation agencies. The CIO should also complete performance gap analyses for its proposed consolidation of common systems by June for the department's Investment Review Board and Congress.

Although the CIO has begun efforts to consolidate systems in 11 common business areas, project management and budget responsibilities for these IT consolidation initiatives were not adequately defined, the report said.

When it comes to e-government initiatives, the IG said the CIO should refine its cost-saving estimates for the planned consolidation of the headquarters IT infrastructure, work with the e-payroll steering committee to strengthen oversight of its planned conversion to the Interior Department's payroll system and submit an action plan for increased oversight to Congress.

Matthews responded that his office agreed with the recommendations and provided target dates for implementing some of the recommendations.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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