VA's IT project management oversight needs work, IG says

Auditors find gaps in VA's Project Management Accountability System

The Veterans Affairs Department’s IT project oversight system started two years ago needs work, according to a new audit.

Roger Baker, the VA’s assistant secretary of information and technology, asked the VA's Office of the Inspector General to review of the Project Management Accountability System (PMAS) he started in June 2009. It currently spans about 120 active IT development projects.

Although the VA has made progress in its IT management under the new system it needs “a great deal of work,” Belinda Finn, assistant inspector general for audits and evaluation, wrote in the report released Aug. 29.


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For example, the VA hasn't established effective management controls to ensure PMAS' data reliability, verify project compliance and track project costs, Finn wrote.

For example, while the VA created an IT dashboard to track IT projects’ current status in PMAS, the data used in it was unreliable, Finn wrote.

“Office of Information Technology does not maintain in the PMAS Dashboard an audit trail of the initial baseline against which to measure project progress,” Finn wrote. “Currently, when a project manager enters a revised project delivery date into the PMAS Dashboard, OIT loses visibility of the original delivery date.”

No reviews are being done to confirm that the data entered into the dashboard is accurate, Finn added. “As a result, OIT cannot rely on the PMAS Dashboard to support project oversight and provide accurate project status data OIT leaders need to make timely and informed management decisions.”

In addition to needing management controls, the PMAS system needs a detailed plan for implementation.

While “initial accomplishments are encouraging, the current framework for PMAS does not provide a sufficient foundation for continued progress,” Finn said. “ OIT proceeded with PMAS’ implementation without the benefit of a road map — that is, a detailed implementation plan — to guide it or the leadership and staffing resources needed to support it through full implementation.

“However, a great deal of work remains before PMAS can be considered completely established and fully operational,” Finn concluded.

Finn recommended that Baker create a detailed plan for PMAS implementation, including benchmarks for deliverables, performance measures and a method of tracking progress. She also made five other recommendations.

According to the report, Baker agreed with the findings and recommendations.

 





About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 VAOITTRuths

Find me ONE PMAS project that has failed. Just one. I tell you it doesn't exist because project managers are allowed to "administratively close" parts of or complete projects just prior to failing so that they don't look bad. But, the truth is, the project just outright failed for any of a number of reasons. PMAS only LOOKS successful because it's allowed to hide failure rather than learn to really deal with issues and resolve them. This basically stems from a lack of true leadership and accountability.

Wed, Aug 31, 2011

They also don't know how long it takes to produce the number of documents. If it takes 3 months to produce the documentation are you really saving time?

Wed, Aug 31, 2011 Stan Jenkins Morgantown, West Virginia

The quote attributed to Albert Einstein saying "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" applies to information technology program management and contract management at the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The agency keeps trying the same old tired ways of contracting using Federal Supply Schedules for the information technology and they keep screwing it up (if schedules are so simple to use, how is it that failure occurs?).

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