New bill would increase oversight of IT projects

Last month, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced legislation that would require agency CIOs and the Office of Management and Budget to conduct systematic reviews of IT projects experiencing performance problems. The bill would also codify the federal IT Dashboard and increase congressional oversight of IT.

Although Carper’s Information Technology Investment Management Act of 2011 (S. 801) does not use the term “TechStat,” the reviews it describes appear to mirror TechStat activities already under way at agencies.

The bill, which was introduced April 12, is a response to a series of hearings Carper has held in the past three years to examine agencies’ management of costly, high-risk IT projects.

“It’s clear that federal agencies are dropping the ball when it comes to deploying the right technology in a timely and cost-effective manner,” Carper said. “This legislation will provide the planning and oversight needed to reduce waste and improve the federal government’s information technology operations.”

Under the proposed legislation:

  • Agencies must develop IT management and development programs to prevent projects from getting off-track.
  • Agency CIOs must review an IT project if it deviates 20 percent or more from its baseline cost, schedule or performance estimate.
  • The federal CIO must review an IT project if it deviates 40 percent or more from its baseline cost, schedule or performance estimate.
  • Officials must report to Congress about the results of a project review, including the project's major problems, how they would be fixed and who is accountable for ensuring that improvements are made.
  • Agencies must identify projects that are crucial because of their cost, mission criticality or risk, and submit additional planning information to the IT Dashboard for those projects.

Furthermore, if an agency fails to submit information to the dashboard or conduct timely reviews, Congress would not appropriate additional funds to support expenses associated with that project.

In addition, the bill would allow OMB to release guidance on providing cash bonuses and other incentives to recognize excellent performance by government employees in the acquisition of information systems and IT.

About the Author

Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.

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