GAO's High-Risk List Adds IT Acquisition and Veteran Health Care

Gene Dodaro, comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office, testifies before the Senate Banking Committee Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009.

Gene Dodaro, comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office, testifies before the Senate Banking Committee Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009. (AP File/J. Scott Applewhite)

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Multiple Capitol Hill sources confirmed to Nextgov that IT acquisition and operations and veteran health care are now included.

The Government Accountability Office's High-Risk List, which calls Congress’ attention to problematic, risky or troubled programs, is about to receive two high-profile additions.

Multiple Capitol Hill sources with knowledge of the list confirmed to Nextgov that IT acquisition and operations and veteran health care are being included on the watchdog's list.

The news is hardly surprising, given the steady stream of criticism and negative headlines those two areas have generated since GAO last updated its biennial High-Risk List in February 2013.  

In the past two years, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been plagued by scandals, including an inability to eliminate its backlog of benefits claims and provide veterans timely access to medical care. Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s HealthCare.gov rollout bombed out so badly, it spurred the creation of the U.S. Digital Service – a White House office designed to ensure IT projects don’t end up as epic failures.

It is far from the first time either VA health care or IT acquisition has been called out by GAO, which serves as the government’s watchdog agency. GAO has highlighted IT acquisition several times in recent years, including in a 2013 report claiming more than $10 billion worth of IT investments were at risk.

These new additions to the High-Risk List -- perhaps the most important product GAO delivers -- ensure both will receive extra scrutiny from the new Congress.  

Unfortunately, the High-Risk List continues filling up. Sources said none of the previous high-risk programs were removed from 2013’s report.

The High-Risk List will be officially released Feb. 11 when U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro testifies before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.