Management

CIOs struggle to quantify success

Shutterstock image (by jabkitticha): Path to success filled with steel traps.

Letting people know exactly how successful an IT project was is no easy task.

In response to the Association of Government Accountants' annual CIO survey, released Jan. 19, roughly 30 CIOs, chief financial officers and other leaders from 10 agencies weighed in on what's weighing on them.

Sixty-three percent of respondents agreed with the statement that "it is a significant challenge for the CIO to communicate the cost savings of successful IT investments."

Return on investment is often an afterthought, AGA's report states, with the success or failure of many federal projects measured merely by whether they met budget and schedule expectations.

It's important to better communicate the value of IT investments, several CIOs said, because those investments tend to pay off in the long run -- something it's easy to lose sight of in the planning stages.

And leaders expressed frustration with that planning process. A majority blamed procurement and change management fears for slowing adoption, and although only one in five respondents said budget was their biggest concern when adopting new technologies, the budget process was a major strategy-killer for some.

"How can you have a strategy when you don't know what your budget is year after year?" asked Rob Klopp, CIO at the Social Security Administration, discussing the survey at AGA' Financial Systems Summit on Jan. 19.

However, there is hope for the future: Eighty-six percent of survey respondents said the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act would smooth procurement and facilitate future cost savings.

Agencies' FITARA implementation plans were due at the end of 2015. Although few of those plans have been released to the public, David Mader, controller and acting deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, told FCW on Jan. 19 that all agencies had submitted their plans and OMB was in the process of reviewing them.

About the Author

Zach Noble is a staff writer covering digital citizen services, workforce issues and a range of civilian federal agencies.

Before joining FCW in 2015, Noble served as assistant editor at the viral news site TheBlaze, where he wrote a mix of business, political and breaking news stories and managed weekend news coverage. He has also written for online and print publications including The Washington Free Beacon, The Santa Barbara News-Press, The Federalist and Washington Technology.

Noble is a graduate of Saint Vincent College, where he studied English, economics and mathematics.

Click here for previous articles by Noble, or connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.


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