5 Tech Issues Congress Wants GAO to Keep an Eye On

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The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee provided five new directives to the Government Accountability Office related to ensuring the government maximizes its tech investments.

Congress gave the Government Accountability Office an early Christmas present Thursday, requesting the watchdog agency undertake five new tech-related reviews in the New Year.

The reviews will ensure agencies follow through on old mandates as well as new laws, according to a bipartisan letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro from the House Oversight and Government committee’s top officials.  

The letter indicates Congress’ continued interest in ensuring agencies implement the Federal Information Technology and Acquisition Reform Act, a law designed to boost CIO authority. It also requires agencies reduce data centers and manage software licenses, areas where they continue to struggle.

This week’s passage of the Modernizing Government Technology Act seems to have added to GAO’s to-do list. Congress wants GAO to “identify and evaluate the top 15-25 mission-critical IT acquisitions” for the nation and report on the status of each. In addition, GAO is asked to “identify and evaluate the top ten legacy systems modernization initiatives” across the country and the “top 10 modernization successes” over the past five years.

Identifying the top mission-critical IT systems could root out good modernization candidates to be used for the IT modernization fund created by MGT. If Congress appropriates money for the fund, agencies could tap into up to $500 million over two years for IT systems in dire need of modernization.

Finally, Congress identified the government’s IT workforce as a major issue. The letter asks GAO to “evaluate the current state of IT human capital, and identify challenges, strategies for success, as well as recommendations for improvement” across all 24 CFO Act agencies.

Earlier this month, a Nextgov analysis of data from the Office of Personnel Management showed there’s only one under-30 IT specialist for every four who are over 60 years old in government.