Snapshot

GAO: Agencies underuse TechStat for IT programs

Agencies are not doing especially well at subjecting at-risk IT programs to formal TechStat Accountability Sessions, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The Office of Management and Budget reported conducting 79 TechStats covering 55 programs as of April 2013, while four major departments – Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security and Health & Human Services – conducted 37 TechStats on 28 programs. GAO describes the TechStat process as "a face-to-face, evidence-based accountability review" that allows the government to intervene in programs that are not delivering results.

The GAO found that barely 19 percent of agencies' at-risk investments had been analyzed through a TechStat session. Among the agencies with the largest number of at-risk investments, most used TechStat more often – 58 percent of the Commerce Department's troubled projects had been reviewed -- but the Health and Human Services Department lagged far behind the governmentwide average, with just 13 percent of its projects being put through TechStat.

"The number of at-risk TechStats held to date is relatively small compared to the current number of medium- and high-risk IT investments," the report said. "Until OMB and agencies develop plans to address these investments, the investments will likely remain at risk."

With the exception of DHS, GAO recommends that the agencies with the most at-risk investments address weaknesses in their TechStat implementation. Commerce fully agreed with the recommendations, while USDA officials agreed in part.

The chart below considers only medium- and high-risk programs for the four agencies in GAO's report. It shows the total number of programs in those risk categories in dark blue and the number that have undergone TechStat sessions in a lighter shade. To read the full GAO report, click here.

TechStat Trends

SOURCE: GAO

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About the Author

Reid Davenport is an FCW editorial fellow. Connect with him on Twitter: @ReidDavenport.

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