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GAO – Agencies Need to Involve Chief Information Officers in Reviewing Billions of Dollars in Acquisitions

Information Technology: Agencies Need to Involve Chief Information Officers in Reviewing Billions of Dollars in Acquisitions GAO-18-42: Published: Jan 10, 2018. Publicly Released: Jan 10, 2018.

“Most of the 22 selected agencies did not identify all of their information technology (IT) contracts. The selected agencies identified 78,249 IT-related contracts, to which they obligated $14.7 billion in fiscal year 2016. However, GAO identified 31,493 additional contracts with $4.5 billion obligated, raising the total amount obligated to IT contracts in fiscal year 2016 to at least $19.2 billion (see figure).The percentage of additional IT contract obligations GAO identified varied among the selected agencies. For example, the Department of State did not identify 1 percent of its IT contract obligations. Conversely, 8 agencies did not identify over 40 percent of their IT-related contract obligations. Many of the selected agencies that did not identify these IT acquisitions did not follow Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) guidance. Specifically, 14 of the 22 agencies did not involve the acquisition office in their process to identify IT acquisitions for Chief Information Officer (CIO) review, as required by OMB. In addition, 7 agencies did not establish guidance to aid officials in recognizing IT. Until agencies involve the acquisitions office in their IT identification processes and establish supporting guidance, they cannot ensure that they will identify all IT acquisitions. Without proper identification of IT acquisitions, agencies and CIOs cannot effectively provide oversight of these acquisitions. In addition to not identifying all IT contracts, 14 of the 22 selected agencies did not fully satisfy OMB’s requirement that the CIO review and approve IT acquisition plans or strategies. Further, only 11 of 96 randomly selected IT contracts at 10 agencies that GAO evaluated were CIO-reviewed and approved as required by OMB’s guidance. The 85 IT contracts not reviewed had a total possible value of approximately $23.8 billion. Until agencies ensure that CIOs review and approve IT acquisitions, CIOs will continue to have limited visibility and input into their agencies’ planned IT expenditures and will not be able to use the increased authority that FITARA’s contract approval provision is intended to provide. Further, agencies will likely miss an opportunity to strengthen CIOs’ authority and the oversight of IT acquisitions. As a result, agencies may award IT contracts that are duplicative, wasteful, or poorly conceived.”

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