GAO identifies duplicative IT investments at DoD, DoE
Thirty-seven information technology investments at the Defense and Energy departments, in a sample of 810, were found to be potentially duplicative--meaning approximately $1.2 billion spent from 2007 to 2012 may have been for redundant programs, according to a Feb. 17 Government Accountability Office report (.pdf).
The Homeland Security Department was also reviewed as part of the audit, but GAO failed to identify potentially duplicative IT programs there. Six IT investments within two programs at DoE were listed as possible duplicates and 31 IT investments within eight programs at DoD may be duplicative, found GAO.
Decentralized governance, "a lack of control over certain facilities," and investments that are sometimes misclassified by function contribute to duplication, DoD and DoE officials told auditors, according to the report.
"Historically, at DoD our information technology spend was very decentralized and very focused on mission capability," said DoD Chief Information Officer Teri Takai, during a Feb. 17 hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on technology, information policy, intergovernmental relations and procurement reform.
"Spending in a decentralized fashion, not taking a view of what our overall portfolio management should be has led to the duplication that we have today," she added.
GAO recommended Takai and DoE CIO Michael Locatis use transparency tools, such as the IT Dashboard, to identify and eliminate duplicative investments and correct any miscategorized investments. Both officials generally concurred with recommendations, but Locatis told auditors that some of the highlighted programs originally identified were not duplicative, to which GAO agreed. Takai also said in her Feb. 17 testimony that four of the 31 DoD investments called out in the GAO report are not duplicative, but complementary and will not be corrected.
Locatis told the House subcommittee that it is making strides in eliminating duplication by following the DHS governance model.
"What I've tried to really do as CIO, is make sure that we look functionally at DHS, not just vertically from the organizational standpoint because...you see tremendous amount of duplication when you look at it from that functional perspective," said DHS CIO Richard Spires in congressional testimony.
DoE has already stood up many of the same working groups and capabilities, including an information management governance council, which has accountability at the undersecretary level of DoE's three primary programs, said Locatis.