A government review found that agencies have not properly assessed the effectiveness of major information technology programs totaling $7.4 billion in operations and maintenance spending.
The Government Accountability Office reviewed the top 10 IT programs with the largest operations and maintenance budgets in fiscal 2012, including the Defense Departmentís Defense Information System Network (DISN), which provides worldwide telecommunications infrastructure and information transport for DOD operations and accounted for $1.8 billion in O&M spending; the Navyís Next Generation Enterprise Network had a $1.4 billion O&M budget and the Veterans Affairs Departmentís Medical IT Support, which provides IT infrastructure and systems for delivering health care, had a $1.1 billion O& M budget in fiscsal 2012.
GAO said these projects, including six others at the Social Security Administration, NASA and Energy, Health and Human Services and Treasury departments did not undergo an operational analysis (OA). Department of Homeland Security was the only agency that performed an analysis. These reviews are key performance evaluations and oversight mechanisms required by the Office of Management and Budget to ensure projects still meet agency needs, according to GAO.
ďUntil the agencies ensure their operational investments are assessed, there is a risk that they will not know whether these multi-billion dollar investments fully meet intended objectives,Ē GAO said.
The White House has pushed for agencies to cut portions of their investments in legacy systems and steady state investments to invest in more innovative projects, like big data and mobile computing, but there has been little change.
According to the presidentís fiscal 2014 budget, O&M spending accounts for 77 percent, or $58.6 billion of the $76.5 billion IT budget for the largest agencies. It isnít clear how much of DoDís $6 billion in classified IT investments is O&M spending.
OMB requires that agencies perform an annual analysis, or OA of each investment to address cost, schedule, customer satisfaction, strategic and business results, financial goals and innovation, according to GAO.
Agency officials gave several reasons for not conducting the analysis. Some said they use budget submissions and management reviews, although OMB has said these methods are not alternatives.
In its response to GAO, DoD said said itís developing an OA policy and agrees with GAOís recommendation to conduct an analysis for the DISN. However, DoD disagreed that an analysis was needed for NGEN because the program is in the planning and acquisition stage.
VA said it will implement operational assessments at the system level starting in the second half of fiscal 2014. And Energy partially agreed with GAO but said its Consolidated Infrastructure, Office Automation and Telecommunication Program is no longer part of the departmentís IT portfolio and therefore doesnít need an analysis.