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Federal Technology Performance Info Should Be Public All the Time, GAO Says

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A government auditor called on the White House on Monday to end its practice of freezing the main outlet for public information about federal technology performance during budget reviews.

That practice has resulted in the IT Dashboard not being updated for 15 of the past 24 months, the Government Accountability Office said, making it extremely difficult for watchdogs and others to effectively review government performance on technology issues.

Information currently posted to the dashboard dates back more than four months to Aug. 30, 2012. At that point, as an example, the Obama administration’s troubled online health insurance marketplace HealthCare.gov had not yet launched publicly and had a 3 out of 5 rating, which equates to “moderate risk.”

Agencies are required to post information about their most expensive information technology investments on the dashboard, including cost and scheduling information and the agency chief information officer’s assessment of the project's risk of going over budget or past deadline.

GAO independently reviewed 80 investments on the IT Dashboard, including 10 each from eight agencies. The office found that 53 agency ratings were consistent with GAO’s own evaluation based on the agencies’ supporting documents, while 20 were partially consistent and seven were inconsistent.

Ratings were often inconsistent because of delays in updating the dashboard rather than genuine disagreements about the level of risk associated with the investments, GAO said.

All of the inconsistent investments were at the Veterans Affairs Department. The risk ratings for those investments were never updated during the period of GAO’s review, the office said, largely because VA opted to build a system to automatically update the dashboard rather than buying commercial technology to perform that task. VA has now resumed updating the dashboard, GAO said. 

(Image via solarseven/Shutterstock.com)

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