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GAO: Federal Agencies Need to Take More Action to Improve IT Acquisitions

Federal agencies need to take more steps to improve IT acquisitions and manage operations, according to a recent GAO report.

The report found that agencies have only implemented about 59 percent of the recommendations that GAO made between 2010 and 2015.

The OMB launched an initiative to reduce data centers, in 2010, which was written into law by the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act. In practice, the initiative could save the government billions of dollars, but GAO has found weaknesses and has made around 160 recommendations to improve the initiative, half of which have not yet been implemented.

Agencies have also been advised to deliver investments incrementally to reduce risk and speed up capability delivery. GAO has made 42 recommendations about the implementation of incremental development, but most of these have yet to be addressed.

Federal agencies should be reviewing and implementing agencies’ IT acquisition plans, as per FITARA guidance, and in January GAO made 39 recommendations to improve this process but they have not been implemented yet.

In November 2016, GAO found that five agencies, including the Department of Defense, had not implemented key workforce planning activities and it made recommendations to do so, but these have not been addressed yet.

In May 2016, GAO found that many agencies were using aging legacy systems, some that were 50 years old. For example, the 2016 report determined that the Department of Defense was using 8-inch floppy disks in a legacy system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation’s nuclear forces. It also noted that some agencies did not have plans to modernize or update these systems. At the time, it recommended that 12 agencies made plans to update or modernize these systems but these recommendations remain open.

“Additional improvements are needed, and further efforts by OMB and federal agencies to implement our previous recommendations would better position them to improve the management of IT acquisitions and operations,” GAO said. “To help ensure that these efforts succeed, OMB’s and agencies’ continued implementation of recommendations is essential. In addition, we will continue to monitor agencies’ implementation of our previous recommendations.”

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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