Key Issues > Duplication & Cost Savings > GAO's Action Tracker > Information Technology Operations and Maintenance
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Information Technology: Information Technology Operations and Maintenance

Strengthening oversight of key federal agencies’ major information technology investments in operations and maintenance provides opportunity for savings on billions in information technology investments.

Action:

The Secretaries of the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and the Treasury should direct appropriate officials to perform operational analyses annually on all investments and ensure the assessments include all key factors.

Progress:

The five agencies have made varying degrees of progress in performing operational analyses and ensuring the analyses include assessments of all evaluation factors called for by Office of Management and Budget directives, as GAO recommended in October 2012. Specifically, Treasury issued a May 2014 policy and conducted operational analyses on fiscal year 2013 and 2014 departmental information technology (IT) investments. In addition, in September 2017 Treasury provided the department’s fiscal year 2015 operational analyses that addressed most of the key factors. Further, the Department of Veterans Affairs provided complete operational analyses for fiscal year 2013 and 2014 investments, but as of November 2017, the department had not finalized its operational analysis policy. Also, as of October 2017, the Department of Defense provided its OA policy, however it did not meet all the key factors. 

At the time of GAO’s 2012 report, the two other agencies—the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS)—had operational analyses policies and were conducting analyses on most, but not all, investments, and in some instances, they were not addressing all evaluation factors in the analyses performed. Both departments subsequently moved to update their policies to provide additional instructions on completing the operational analysis, including taking steps to ensure that all agency investments were analyzed and that these analyses are incorporated in an assessment of all evaluation factors. In particular, HHS issued an updated policy in May 2015 that addressed the evaluation factors and, in March 2016, DHS issued a guidebook that addressed all the factors. Further, in September 2017 DHS provided operational analyses for its investments in fiscal year 2016, which met a majority of the evaluation factors.

While the agencies have made progress, they have not fully implemented their policies to ensure that complete and thorough operational analyses are being performed on their multibillion-dollar operational investments. Until they do so, there is increased risk that the agencies will not know whether the investments fully meet their intended objectives, thus increasing the potential for waste and duplication.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs

Action:

The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should revise existing guidance to include directing agencies to report operational analysis (OA) results for all steady state investments to OMB for oversight and disseminate the results of OAs via the Information Technology Dashboard.

Progress:

OMB issued guidance to agencies directing them, starting in fiscal year 2015, to report OA results along with their annual budget request documentation to OMB, as GAO recommended in October 2012. In addition, OMB established a new process for how agencies are to provide OA information to OMB, which OMB officials said was effective as of March 2014. As of April 2016, OMB said it does not plan to publicly disseminate OAs, stating that information contained in OAs can be sensitive in nature. Since sensitive information should not be made publicly available, OAs may not be able to be disseminated via the Information Technology Dashboard. The steps OMB has taken will increase its assurance that agencies are annually conducting and reporting OAs.

Implementing Entity:

Office of Management and Budget