GAO: DOD's modernization needs improvement

Some Defense Department business systems modernization projects need to be better justified, defined and managed, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office.

Despite GAO's having designated DOD's business systems modernization program as high risk in 1995, the department continues to invest billions in thousands of business systems — including about 100 that the department labeled as business transformational programs.

The projects were categorized as risky because of their large size, complexity and critical role in addressing other longstanding transformation and financial management challenges. Also, DOD has not demonstrated the ability to consistently deliver promised system capabilities and benefits on time and in budget, the report states.

For example, DOD's high-risk projects may fall behind schedule, exceed budgets and not deliver the promised results, GAO reports. For example, the Global Combat Support System-Marine Corps (GCSS-MC) program is intended to  modernize the Corps' logistics systems to give decision-makers timely and complete information to support warfighters. The project's first increment is projected to cost approximately $442 million and be fully deployed in 2010.

GAO found that DOD has not effectively implemented key information technology management controls on the GCSS-MC program, and its deployment is more than three years behind schedule and it's expected to cost about $193 million more than projected.

The goals of the project are not being met, in part because DOD program managers have not adequately implemented several IT management controls, the report continued. As a result, the department does not have a sufficient basis for knowing that GCSS-MC is the best system solution to meeting its mission needs, the document said.

The program is likely to experience further schedule slips and cost overruns, along with reduced system capabilities, GAO  found, adding that DOD's failure to implement IT management controls is one of the reasons the program is having problems.

Also, the project’s compliance with DOD’s federated business enterprise architecture has not been followed correctly, GAO said, adding that the department failed to identify potential areas of duplication across programs.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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