GAO Adds IT Acquisitions to High Risk List

The Government Accountability Office has released its biennial High Risk List and announced the addition of two new areas, including Improving the Management of IT Acquisitions and Operations.

Every two years at the start of a new Congress, GAO calls attention to agencies and program areas that are high risk due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation.

According to GAO, the executive branch has undertaken numerous initiatives to better manage the $80 billion annual investment in information technology, but federal IT investments too frequently fail or incur cost overruns and schedule slippages while contributing little to mission-related outcomes.

Failed IT projects–such as the Department of Defense’s Expeditionary Combat Support System, the Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Border Initiative Network program, and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Financial and Logistics Integrated Technology Enterprise program–often suffered from a lack of disciplined and effective management, such as project planning, requirements definition, and program oversight and governance. In many instances, agencies have not consistently applied best practices that are critical to successfully acquiring IT investments.

Other areas on the high risk list include DOD Contract ManagementDepartment of Energy’s Contract Management for the National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental ManagementNASA Acquisition ManagementDOD Supply Chain Management, and DOD Weapon Systems Acquisition.

GAO also concluded there was solid, steady progress on the vast majority of the high-risk areas. Eighteen of the 30 areas on the 2013 list at least partially met all of the criteria for removal, and sufficient progress was made to narrow the scope of DOD Contract Management.

For more information, see the full report.

About William Van Huis

Bill Van Huis is a Senior Writer/Analyst for Wolters Kluwer Law & Business who tracks and analyzes new regulations impacting federal government contracting. He also follows court decisions involving bid protests and contract disputes. You can find his work in WK publications like Government Contract Reports and the FAR and DFARS Matrix Tools. Bill is a Certified Professional Contracts Manager, and he has a law degree from Southern Illinois University, where he graduated summa cum laude. Prior to joining WK, Bill worked both inside and outside state and local government in the areas of procurement and municipal finance. Bill also worked as a staff attorney for the Illinois Supreme Court.
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