IG hits VA's use of life cycle management for IT

Problems increase risks for $3.4 billion in major IT investments

The Veterans Affairs Department has not consistently applied its life cyle process to manage information technology projects that cost billions, according to a new report from the department’s Office of the Inspector General.

The VA’s System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is the process that identifies the tasks that must be completed for an IT project through its life cycle.

Although the VA’s life cycle guidance is adequate, it was not communicated, enforced, or applied evenly to monitor the department's IT systems' spending effectively and efficiently, Belinda Finn, assistant inspector general for audits and investigations, wrote in the report issued Sept. 30.

“Without an effective SDLC process, VA’s IT investments are at risk of cost overruns, schedule slippage, and performance problems. Further, VA will lack assurance that its major IT investments are contributing to VA’s mission,” Finn wrote in the report.

The IG's office reviewed four IT projects that cost a total of $1.5 billion. Overall, the VA manages IT programs that cost about $3.4 billion.

The IG's office recommended that VA’s Office of Information and Technology establish and implement policies, procedures, and management controls to ensure centralized management of VA’s IT investments. “These actions are needed to improve the risk management control and corporate governance of major IT investments,” the report said.

VA officials agreed with the findings and recommendations.

The report is about one of several recent critical audits of VA’s IT programs. A recent report detailed problems in management of the VA’s FLITE program to improve its financial and logistics programs.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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