Critical Read

What are agencies doing with IT money they're saving?

Shutterstock image (by Apatara): Saving money concept.

(Apatsara / Shutterstock)

What: A Government Accountability Office report entitled “Information Technology Reform: Billions of Dollars in Savings Have Been Realized, but Agencies Need to Complete Reinvestment Plans.”

Why: Agencies are reaping big savings thanks to the Office of Management and Budget’s IT reform initiatives, but they need to take the next step and track their reinvestment of those savings, GAO recommended.

In its review of agency performance, GAO found that 24 federal agencies generated savings of $3.6 billion between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2014, thanks to OMB’s IT reform initiatives. (NASA and the Office of Personnel Management also participated in the IT reform, but did not report any savings.)

The two dozen agencies generated most of their savings through data center consolidation, GAO noted, and with much of the federal government’s $80 billion annual IT spend going to legacy systems, the savings were a welcome bright spot in federal IT.

But the vast majority of agencies lack complete reinvestment plans for their savings and aren’t tracking how the saved money is being put to good use, GAO noted.

GAO’s recommendation: OMB needs to define agency reinvestment targets and hold agencies to account, requiring them to complete reinvestment plans and track the use of their IT reform savings.

Verbatim: “In the more than 5 years since OMB began its IT reform efforts, agencies have reported more than $3 billion in savings from their implementation of such efforts—most notably, Defense, DHS, Treasury, and SSA, which account for 69 percent of the reported government-wide savings to date. However, continued discrepancies of more than $484 million in the savings being reported by agencies and those being reported in OMB’s quarterly reports to Congress indicates that agencies are still not reporting all of their savings to OMB. … Until [reinvestment] plans are completed, agencies will be challenged to ensure that their considerable savings are being used in the most efficient and effective manner possible.”

About the Author

Zach Noble is a former FCW staff writer.

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