GAO: keeping agencies — and itself — accountable

The Government Accountability Office is proving that it practices what it preaches.

In a recent evaluation, GAO estimated it had a return rate of $100 per every $1 invested in the agency.

Of 16 target performance goals, GAO reported it met or exceeded 11 of them in 2013, including:

-Identifying $51.5 billion in financial benefits to taxpayers
-Issuing 709 reports and 1,430 recommendations to federal agencies or Congress
-Testifying at 114 hearings
-Helping make the government more efficient in 1,314 ways
-Congress or federal agencies implemented 79 percent of the last four years of GAO recommendations


Last week, GAO issued another report that found standard best practices can help the Defense Department manage its major investments.

GAO identified several common critical success factors: senior department and agency executives supported the programs; end users participated in testing of system functionality prior to formal end user acceptance testing; program officials maintained regular communication with the prime contractor and government; and contractor staff were consistent and stable

Titled “Leveraging Best Practices and Reform Initiatives Can Help Defense Manage Major Investments,” the report found GAO has made recommendations on oversight and management of IT investments and DOD “generally agreed, but has not fully implemented these recommendations.”

According to GAO, DOD aims to spend more than $39 billion in fiscal year 2014.

“Given the scale of such planned outlays and the criticality of many of these systems to the security and defense of the nation, it is important that these Defense investments are acquired on time and within budget and that they deliver expected benefits,” the report said.


An October 2012 GAO report found DOD didn’t rate any of its investments as high risk on the IT Dashboard, despite issues related to performance, schedule and cost found by GAO and other organizations. The Expeditionary Combat Support System, which was canceled after spending $1 billon, was among those programs reviewed.

Currently, the IT Dashboard ratings are as follows: of 93 major investments, 81 are low or moderately low risk, 12 are medium risk and none are moderately high or high.

GAO reported DOD is working to better manage its IT systems to cut costs and improve efficiency by following GAO’s recommendations. DOD is consolidating its almost 2,000 data centers and identifying duplicative spending through the PortfolioStat program.

DOD estimates $3.2 billion to $5.2 billion in savings through fiscal year 2015, and an additional $1.3 billion to $2.2 billion in efficiencies per year beginning in fiscal year 2015.

“With a continued focus on this important effort, including obtaining support for estimated cost savings, Defense can realize significant benefits through the elimination of duplicative and inefficient IT investments,” the report said.


DOD did not respond to request for comment.

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