GAO: OMB can improve oversight of IT investments

Thursday - 11/3/2011, 7:07pm EDT

David Powner, director of information technology management issues, GAO

Download mp3

The Office of Management and Budget plays a key role in overseeing how federal agencies manage and fund their IT investments. OMB has made some changes to the transparency and oversight of these IT investments.

But the Government Accountability Office sees some room for improvement. In an interview with In Depth with Francis Rose, David Powner, director of information technology management issues at GAO, shares highlights from the recent report from the watchdog agency.

OMB created the IT dashboard in 2009 as a way to track IT projects. The budget agency says the federal government spends nearly $80 billion on IT.

The IT dashboard is a "major step in the right direction," but not all of that spending is reported to the dashboard, Powner said.

GAO also found examples of duplicative spending. For example, it found 661 human resource systems that cost $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2011. It also found 580 financial management systems costing $2.7 billion associated with 26 agencies.

"Clearly we have a lot of old legacy systems," Powner said.

The problem is when agencies modernize or invest in new technologies, they do not always decommission the legacy system, he said.

Powner added the challenge of oversight does not fall only on OMB but also the investment review boards at the agencies.