GAO: DoD Should Adhere to Best Practices to Manage and Oversee MAIS Business Programs

A GAO report has found that DoD should adhere to best practices to manage and oversee its major automated information system business programs.

Currently, the strength of its policies for the management and oversight of programs varies. Specifically, the policy for managing 24 non-business MAIS programs adheres to leading information technology (IT) management practices, but the policy for managing 10 MAIS business programs does not always do so

When DoD categorized 10 of the 34 MAIS programs as MAIS business programs, it also directed these programs to adhere to DoD’s business systems policy (DoD Instruction 5000.75). However, the department directed those programs to use a policy for the management and oversight of MAIS business programs that was not fully comprehensive. Until DoD updates its business systems policy to address gaps in establishing performance information such as baseline estimates on program cost and schedule goals, identifying thresholds to identify high risk, and requiring periodic reports to be provided to stakeholders at regular intervals, stakeholders will likely not have all the information they need to manage and oversee MAIS business programs.

While all 15 business and non-business MAIS programs had either increased or decreased their planned cost estimates and the majority had delays in their planned schedule estimates, the majority of the nine programs that had performance targets met those performance goals. Specifically, the decreases and increases in cost estimates ranged from a decrease of $1.6 billion (-41 percent) to an increase of $1.5 billion (163 percent). The decreases in planned cost were largely due to scope reduction, while cost increases were due to underestimating levels of effort and contracting issues. The slippages in schedule estimates ranged from a delay of 5 years to 5 months; these delays were caused by unrealistic expectations or unplanned changes. Six of the nine programs that had performance targets met all of them, while the other three met several but not all of their performance targets. The other six programs were in the early stages of system development and had not begun performance testing.

GAO recommends that the secretary of Defense direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment to update the policy or guidance for MAIS business programs. It also recommends that the requirements management plan for the Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization program should be finalized and approved and that the program manager for the Navy Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services program should identify and document, in the failover/recovery plan, all potential external environmental issues, such as hazards, threats, and vulnerabilities that could negatively affect work efforts.

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