GAO: Seat analysis lacking

"Desktop Outsourcing: Positive Results Reported, But Analyses Could Be Strengthened"

Agencies are having trouble determining the costs and benefits associated with outsourcing their desktop computers, according to a General Accounting Office report released April 29.

The agencies reviewed did not sufficiently analyze their up-front or long-term projected costs and benefits and did not routinely monitor all their seat management costs and benefits, GAO found.

However, the agencies did track contractor performance against specific performance metrics in areas such as service delivery and availability, but this did not address whether the "overall cost and benefit goals of seat management programs are being met," GAO said in its report.

GAO reviewed seat management contracts in six agencies — NASA, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Treasury's Departmental Offices and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Peace Corps, and the Defense Logistics Agency — at the request of Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.). Davis is chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee.

On the whole, GAO found that the agencies it reviewed had achieved positive results from seat management such as improving information technology management.

In its report, dated March 29, GAO recommended that agencies:

* Monitor all actual seat management costs and benefits.

* Establish a baseline for current costs.

* Perform an analysis of expected costs, benefits and risks.

* Consider implementing lessons learned described in the report.

Some agencies, such as the Defense Department and the General Services Administration, generally agreed with the report's findings. But others, including NASA, disagreed with portions of the report. GSA manages one of the governmentwide seat management contracts.

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