GAO: CIOs 'limited' in budget, hiring abilities

Thursday - 10/20/2011, 4:24pm EDT

Valerie Melvin, director of information management and human capital issues, GAO

Download mp3

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

Are federal chief information officers given the authority established in the 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act?

The Government Accountability Office found CIOs do not always have full responsibility in IT areas as defined by the law, according to the GAO report.

The federal government spent $79 billion on information technology in fiscal year 2011 alone, so it's important the CIOs are able to do their jobs to lead reforms that will improve IT management, said Valerie Melvin, director of information management and human capital issues at GAO, in an interview with In Depth with Francis Rose.

"There were critical areas where we saw [CIOs] limited in their ability," Melvin said.

For example, not all CIOs controlled IT funding. Only nine CIOs who talked to GAO said their approval was needed for IT investments. In total, GAO administered questionnaires to the CIOs of 30 federal departments and agencies , three military departments and three independent federal agencies.

Federal CIOs also do not have input in hiring their IT staff or performance appraisals.

Melvin said the GAO recommends the Office of Management and Budget establish deadlines and guidance for agencies to set metrics.