GAO sees opportunity for IT savings in duplication report

The watchdog agency wants tougher oversight from OMB in PortfolioStat reviews and stronger agency-level CIO authorities to provide more visibility into troubled IT projects.

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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."

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