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GAO: Big IT programs need better oversight of operations and maintenance spending

Nov. 12, 2013 - 10:04AM   |  
By MICHAEL PECK   |   Comments
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The Defense Department and other federal agencies fail to adequately audit billions of dollars in IT operations and maintenance (O&M) spending, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

The GAO reviewed the 10 IT programs with the largest operations and maintenance budgets in fiscal 2012, including the Defense Department’s Defense Information System Network (DISN), which provides worldwide telecommunications infrastructure and information transport for DoD operations and accounted for $1.8 billion in O&M spending; and the Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN), which had a $1.4 billion O&M budget.

Of the $82 billion that federal agencies will spend on IT in fiscal 2014, $59 billion will go to O&M.

Of the 10 programs with the largest IT budgets, only the Department of Homeland Security conducted an operational analysis (OA), which is recommended by the Office of Management and Budget. The other agencies “cited several reasons for not doing so, including relying on budget submission and related management reviews that measure performance; however, OMB has noted that these are not a substitute for OAs,” GAO said. “Until the agencies ensure their operational investments are assessed, there is a risk that they will not know whether these multibillion dollar investments fully meet intended objectives.”

DISA’s response, according to the GAO, was that it “did not conduct an OA for the Defense Information Systems Network due to the fact that the investment undergoes constant oversight through weekly meetings to review issues such as the project status and accomplishments. Further, they said that the program manager exercises cost, schedule, and performance oversight using earned value management techniques. In addition, they stated that monthly reviews of actual versus planned spending are collected to flag any discrepancies from expected cost and schedule objectives.”

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