GAO cites 12 overlapping computer investments at the Defense, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments.
This article has been updated to include comment from Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.
A dozen duplicative information technology systems at three federal agencies have cost the government more than $300 million during the past five years, an auditor announced Thursday.
The duplicative investments included two overlapping systems to manage immigration enforcement at the Homeland Security Department and four Defense Department systems to track soldiers’ health and dental care.
The Defense Department has already scrapped one of the two health systems and plans to consolidate the two dental systems into one by 2015, according to the Government Accountability Office report.
The Homeland Security Department said its immigration divisions had unique requirements that made it impossible to integrate the computer systems but was unable to prove that case to GAO’s satisfaction.
The GAO list also included six duplicative systems at the Health and Human Services Department, four that manage information security and two more that determine Medicare coverage. That agency also denied its systems were duplicative, GAO said.
The 12 systems together have cost taxpayers $321 million since 2008, GAO said. Consolidating down to one system for each core function would significantly reduce that bill in future years.
The four Health and Human Services information security systems alone cost $256 million during that five-year period. GAO reviewed 590 systems for its report.
“With so much money on the line, it is critical that our government agencies are doing everything possible to save taxpayer money," Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement. "An important part of this effort is to ensure that we are not investing in programs that unnecessarily overlap or are duplicative."
Reducing duplicative and overlapping computer systems is a major component of the White House’s initiative to reform how the government buys and manages IT. The government spends about $80 billion annually on computer hardware and software, making it the largest enterprise IT buyer in the world.