IT & Networks

Report: IT is the No. 1 agency management challenge

Information technology security and management topped the list of problems reported in 2017, according to the first-ever comprehensive list of management and performance challenges faced by agencies across the entire government.

The report, released by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency April 18, 2018, derives the biggest struggles in government administration from 61 total top management and performance challenges reports issued by federal inspectors general in 2017.

“Agencies need reliable and secure IT systems to perform their mission-critical functions. Yet across government, we identified problems in key areas, including the protection of sensitive data and information systems from cyberattacks, modernizing and managing IT systems, ensuring continuity of operations and recruiting and retaining a highly skilled cybersecurity workforce,” said Allison Lerner, vice chair of CIGIE and inspector general for the National Science Foundation, at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing held the same day.

The report found seven management challenges that most commonly cropped up across agencies:

  1. Information Technology and Security Management
  2. Performance Management and Accountability
  3. Human Capitol Management
  4. Financial Management
  5. Procurement Management
  6. Facilities Maintenance
  7. Grant Management

IT also featured prominently in the problems with and potential solutions to other management issues, such as finances and improper payments.

“We need to do a better job and have more capacity to analyze the massive amounts of data within the [Department of Defense] and the rest of the federal government to root out the indicators of fraud and the rest of the leads that we can go after,” said Glenn Fine, principal deputy inspector general for the DoD.

Resolving some of these issues therefore requires improving agency IT practices and infrastructure.

“In an era of big data, what we’re learning, as many of us are doing data analytics work to try and get at those issues, is that our agencies don’t keep good data or data at all,” said Michael E. Horowitz, chair of the CIGIE and inspector general for the Department of Justice.

Horowitz added that the “sunlight” public-facing technology like websites can provide the public by giving easy insight into the progress and efficiency of various agencies can also help motivate those agencies to close IG recommendations faster than they would otherwise.

Most recently, CIGIE created oversight.gov to fill that purpose by aggregating all public inspector general reports in one place.

“One of the issues we’ve come to Congress for in FY18 — and we didn’t get funding but we’re looking for it in FY19 — is a very modest amount of money, $1 million to $2 million, to build out oversight.gov,” said Horowitz. “And that’s just one of the things that we’d like to build out further.”

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