DLA urged work on IT management

DLA Needs to Strengthen its Investment Management Capability

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The Defense Logistics Agency is hard at work to improve its information technology investment management strategy, but many enhancements are necessary for the agency to get the biggest bang out of its IT bucks, according to the General Accounting Office.

The March 15 report, "DLA Needs to Strengthen its Investment Management Capability," acknowledged that the agency only recently began focusing on IT investment management, and that has left it "without some of the capabilities that it needs to ensure that its mix of IT investments best meets the agency's mission and business priorities."

GAO used Information Technology Investment Management maturity framework to assess DLA's practices. The ITIM framework identifies critical processes for successful IT investment and organizes them into an assessment framework comprising five stages of maturity. The framework is in its exposure draft stage, but the federal CIO Council has favorably reviewed it, according to GAO officials.

In the report, GAO applauded DLA's efforts to strengthen its IT investment management, but found that "several critical IT investment management capabilities need to be enhanced before DLA can have reasonable assurance that it is maximizing the value of its IT investment dollar and minimizing the associated risks."

The report also said that DLA does not have a process improvement plan endorsed by agency leadership, and that "limits DLA's prospects for introducing the management capabilities necessary for making prudent decisions that maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of its IT investment."

Specific GAO recommendations include:

* Establishing foundational, project-level control and selection processes, which will enable the agency to identify variances in project cost, schedule and performance expectations and to make informed, project-specific selection decisions.

* Continually assessing proposed and ongoing projects as an integrated and competing set of investment options in a portfolio management approach that considers the relative costs, benefits and risks of new and previously funded investments and identifies the mix that best meets its mission, strategies and goals.

* Develop a plan within six months for implementing IT investment management process improvements based on GAO 's processes.

* Develop and issue guidance covering the scope and operations of DLA's investment review boards.

* Issue policies and procedures for the Program Executive Office Review Board's oversight of IT projects.

Mae De Vincentis, DLA's director of information operations, said she welcomed the GAO review and agreed with most of the recommendations, but found it "unsettling" that the DLA was "being judged against a document that is an exposure draft."

De Vincentis also said that DLA is in the middle of a major reorganization and she thought it had made "tremendous progress" on its IT management processes when that time element is considered. She added that many of the GAO recommendations are in the "final stages" of review at DLA and should be finalized in the next 12 months.

Lester Diamond, assistant director of GAO's IT team, said that although ITIM is technically an exposure draft, GAO has been using it for more than a year and the reason it is still in that stage is because the watchdog agency is constantly updating it with lessons learned from the user community.

Diamond added that more 15 agencies are using ITIM for self-assessments and to help redesign internal processes.

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