Critical Read

GAO sees opportunity for IT savings in duplication report

GAO Seal

What: GAO 2014 Annual Report

Why: The annual report of the Government Accountability Office is a little like a greatest hits record, compiling past efforts by the congressional watchdog agency to identify duplication, overlap, and waste in government programs. It provides a concise overview of programs and initiatives being tracked by GAO.

Potential IT savings loom large in the 2014 edition. GAO wants to see stronger oversight from the Office of Management and Budget in the PortfolioStat reviews, especially with regard to data quality on commodity IT investments. More generally, GAO sees opportunities to strengthen agency-level CIO authorities under existing law to give more visibility into troubled IT projects. 

GAO also hopes to realize significant cost savings from the use of reverse auctions in acquisitions, including for IT products. The government could also achieve savings by requiring departments with key law enforcement functions to collaborate on interoperability standards for mobile land radio. In particular, the agency wants  the departments of Treasury, Justice, and Homeland Security to do a better job of coordinating mobile communications efforts to save on the estimated $600 million spent annually in this area.

Verbatim: "While OMB officials have stated that they intend to make agency-reported data and the best practices identified for the PortfolioStat effort publicly available, they have not yet decided specifically which information they will report. Until OMB publicly reports data agencies submit on their commodity IT consolidation efforts, including planned and actual cost savings, it will be more difficult for stakeholders, including Congress and the public, to monitor agencies' progress and hold them accountable for reducing duplication and achieving cost savings."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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Reader comments

Wed, Apr 9, 2014 Concerned Citizen Vienna, VA

OMB needs to stop lecturing and start doing. It seems all we get out of OMB is talk about what needs to get done and the benefits of getting something accomplished. Perhaps actually doing something tangible will move the ball in right direction. All talk - no action leads to nothing getting done. GAO reports seem to be ignored by OMB. This same article will be written in 2015, 2016 etc.

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