Defense

DOD expands use of IT Dashboard

IT Dashboard DOD Summary

The Defense Department has expanded the number of projects it details in the federal IT Dashboard.

In its fiscal 2015 submission to the federal IT Dashboard, the Defense Department has reported more than $2.5 billion in ongoing IT projects that were not listed last year. That raises the number of DOD IT projects from 93 to 118.

Those are not new projects, but rather an update that reflects the increasing pressure to get DOD to comply with the Office of Management and Budget's IT reporting requirements. Lawmakers hope that uniform reporting will give them a more accurate picture of the federal government's biggest single bucket of IT spending. DOD had more than $31 billion worth of non-classified IT projects in fiscal 2014.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) has been among the most vocal critics of DOD's IT reporting. "I remain concerned by the [Government Accountability Office] reports indicating that a number of the Pentagon’s IT acquisition programs have not been correctly categorized on the government's website," Ayotte said at a February hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee's Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee.

At that same hearing, DOD CIO Teri Takai said, "I would not necessarily depict our current ratings that are out on the dashboard as being 100 percent correct."

Takai issued a memo on March 25 to the department's CIOs outlining reporting requirements for the IT Dashboard and instructing them to measure risk on the one-to-five scale OMB uses in its TechStat process. Although FCW was not able to see the internal memo, a DOD official said it was coordinated with the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics and addresses some of the issues raised by critics on Capitol Hill. The memo is apparently designed to align DOD's homegrown acquisition guidance known as the 5000 process into OMB's governmentwide system.

"You certainly do not want to hear, 'Well, we are DOD and so our ratings are a little different,' which I am sure you hear a lot from us on other things," Takai said at the hearing.

Some of the larger DOD projects to be added to the IT Dashboard include:

Despite the changes in DOD's IT reporting, projects' risk ratings have remained stable. In previous IT Dashboard reports, none of DOD's projects were listed in the red-flag category for having a risk score of one or two. That has not changed in the current iteration of the IT Dashboard: Of the 118 investments listed, 112 were listed with a "green" score of four or five, and 12 were listed as medium risk or "yellow" with a score of three.

Dave Powner, director of IT management issues at GAO, has been skeptical that those ratings are accurate. "There are a lot of complex projects there," he said. "It is not that they are doing a bad job that they are red. I mean, there are red projects across programs. There are red projects in the private sector. But you cannot fix the problems unless you acknowledge you have a problem."

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