GAO: Agencies underuse TechStat for IT programs

Agencies are not doing especially well at subjecting at-risk IT programs to formal TechStat Accountability Sessions, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The Office of Management and Budget reported conducting 79 TechStats covering 55 programs as of April 2013, while four major departments – Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security and Health & Human Services – conducted 37 TechStats on 28 programs. GAO describes the TechStat process as "a face-to-face, evidence-based accountability review" that allows the government to intervene in programs that are not delivering results.

The GAO found that barely 19 percent of agencies' at-risk investments had been analyzed through a TechStat session. Among the agencies with the largest number of at-risk investments, most used TechStat more often – 58 percent of the Commerce Department's troubled projects had been reviewed -- but the Health and Human Services Department lagged far behind the governmentwide average, with just 13 percent of its projects being put through TechStat.

"The number of at-risk TechStats held to date is relatively small compared to the current number of medium- and high-risk IT investments," the report said. "Until OMB and agencies develop plans to address these investments, the investments will likely remain at risk."

With the exception of DHS, GAO recommends that the agencies with the most at-risk investments address weaknesses in their TechStat implementation. Commerce fully agreed with the recommendations, while USDA officials agreed in part.

The chart below considers only medium- and high-risk programs for the four agencies in GAO's report. It shows the total number of programs in those risk categories in dark blue and the number that have undergone TechStat sessions in a lighter shade. To read the full GAO report, click here.

TechStat Trends



About the Author

Reid Davenport is an FCW editorial fellow. Connect with him on Twitter: @ReidDavenport.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group