BLM gains ground on programs

The Bureau of Land Management has made progress in improving its information technology management after scrapping an expensive case management system two years ago, but the agency still has a long way to go, according to a General Accounting Office report released this week.

BLM pulled the plug on the Automated Land and Mineral Record System (ALMRS) in 1999 after its costs ballooned, its technology was made obsolete by commercial off-the-shelf products and its deployment was delayed. BLM ultimately found ALMRS to be unworkable after having spent a total of $411 million on the project.

GAO's new report follows up on recommendations it made for BLM to improve its IT management. "Although the bureau has not yet finished these efforts, it has begun to apply improved management strategies for selecting IT investments, develop processes and practices for controlling and evaluating investments, and build a more mature systems acquisition capability," according to GAO.

The GAO report also noted:

BLM's IT capital asset plan still needs to include an analysis of its assets and what the agency plans to acquire, as well as justifications for proposed acquisitions. The agency expects to revise the plan now that its initial IT architecture is in place. The agency's IT Investment Board, created in 1998 and composed of program managers, IT personnel and financial managers, "has not yet established criteria and processes to properly control and evaluate IT investments," according to the report. BLM has assessed its IT staffing and skills needs — as required by the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 — and has restructured its national information resources management organization based on that assessment.

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