The federal government spends over $90 billion a year on information technology. Earlier, the Government Accountability Office found that agencies sometimes award contracts for duplicative IT services—like awarding 2 contracts to the same vendor for the same services. Eliminating duplication could save money.
Agencies could help reduce duplication by
- Using existing contracts for categories of similar goods and services—a.k.a. category management—as the Office of Management and Budget suggests
- Analyzing IT spending to find duplication
The 7 agencies we reviewed fully or partially took these and other steps. GAO made 20 recommendations aimed at reducing IT contract duplication.
Selected agencies varied in their efforts to implement five Office of Management and Budget (OMB) category management activities that contribute to preventing, identifying, and reducing duplicative information technology (IT) contracts. For example, most of the seven selected agencies had fully implemented the activities associated with identifying a Senior Accountable Official and training their workforces. In contrast, about half the agencies had fully implemented the activity associated with sharing contract information. Agencies cited several reasons for their varied implementation, including that they were still defining how to best integrate category management into the agency.
Four of the seven agencies had fully or partially implemented the activity to regularly use a spend analysis to identify potential contract duplication. Each of these four agencies had fully implemented the activity to develop and implement strategies to address the identified duplication, which, according to agency officials, resulted in millions of dollars in savings. The remaining three agencies had not implemented either of the two spend analysis activities. Until agencies ensure that their efforts to prevent, identify, and reduce duplicative IT contracts are fully aligned with category management principles and practices, and are informed by spend analyses, they will be at increased risk of wasteful spending. In addition, they will likely miss opportunities to identify and realize savings of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.
GAO is making 20 recommendations to six agencies to fully implement the category management and spend analyses activities. The agencies generally concurred. Two agencies provided additional evidence that led GAO to withdraw one recommendation and modify one other.