We Should Be Getting More From IT Project Reviews, Report Says

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GAO calls for TechStat reviews on all risky IT projects.

A system of top-level, adapt-or-perish reviews hasn’t done enough to stem the tide of over-budget and past-deadline information technology projects across the government, according to a report published Thursday.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget also hasn’t done enough to verify the $4 billion it claims TechStat sessions have saved the government, according to the Government Accountability Office report.

In a review of four selected agencies, GAO could only verify about $22 million in savings.

“Until OMB obtains and shares information on the methods used to validate reported results, it will be difficult for the results to be independently validated and for OMB to provide assurance to Congress and the public that TechStats are achieving their intended impact,” the office said.

Former federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra instituted TechStat sessions early in the Obama administration as a method to rein in spending on long-range IT projects that often went months or years without top-level oversight.

GAO favors TechStat sessions for IT projects that are at risk of going significanlty over budget, significantly past deadline or never delivering on promises, according to Thursday’s report and to testimony Tuesday by the office’s IT specialist David Powner. 

GAO's chief criticisms are that OMB and agencies aren’t performing TechStats on enough high and moderate risk IT projects and that OMB isn’t doing enough to verify that agencies are following through on TechStat recommendations.

OMB has performed TechStats on less than one-fifth of risky IT projects governmentwide, the report said. The Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments performed TechStats on about one-third of risky projects, the report said. 

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