GAO: FAA's modernization improves

The Government Accountability Office said the government's financial regulatory system is outdated and unable to keep up with current developments. GAO also said its high-risk list, updated every two years, now totals 30 programs at risk of waste, fraud and abuse.

The Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of medical products and the Environmental Protection Agency’s assessment and control of toxic chemicals have been added to the list. But the Federal Aviation Administration made enough progress on improving its air traffic control modernization program that GAO removed it from the list, said Gene Dodaro, acting comptroller general.

FAA initially landed on the list in 1995 because it suffered from significant cost overruns and a lack of software development capability, an enterprise architecture and other investment processes, Dodaro said.

“They really committed to, attacked and fixed some root causes of the problem,” Dodaro said at a briefing to announce the latest list. He was joined by leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Agencies have made progress on each of the programs that remain on the list, Dodaro said. They have developed plans for some areas, which will help them focus on what remains to be done and sustain that progress so they can eventually graduate from the list, he said.

“We are particularly pleased in the past few years that agencies, with [Office of Management and Budget] support and encouragement, have developed better plans for addressing some of these areas,” Dodaro said.

Agencies have demonstrated progress in strengthening information security as required under the Federal Information Security Management Act, especially by establishing security configurations for desktop computers and reducing the number of federal access points to the Internet, according to GAO’s report detailing the programs on the list. However, many agencies still have not implemented comprehensive security management programs and have not adopted “hundreds of recommendations made by GAO and inspectors general to resolve identified deficiencies,” the report states.

Federal contracting in general continues on the list as “a deep and dark hole for American taxpayers,” said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), the Senate committee's chairman. Agencies have made some progress in better management and oversight of contracting, but contract spending also rose last year from about $450 billion to $532 billion, he said.

The Defense Department continued to dominate the list because of its programs related to contracts, business systems modernization, personnel security clearances, and management of finances, supply chain and weapons systems, Dodaro said. “The military’s lack of progress is of growing concern to GAO.”

Among other programs that continue on the list are the 2010 census, workforce management, the Homeland Security Department's transformation efforts, and the Health and Human Services Department’s Medicare and Medicaid programs.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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