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Government Accountability Office, IT Dashboard: Agencies Need to Fully Consider Risks When Rating Their Major Investments (GAO-16-494) (June 2, 2016) (full-text).


Although the government spends more than $80 billion in information technology (IT) annually, many of the investments have failed or have been troubled. In December 2014, provisions commonly referred to as the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) were enacted. Among other things, FITARA states that the OMB shall make available to the public a list of each major IT investment including data on cost, schedule, and performance. The OMB does so via the Federal IT Dashboard — its public website that reports on major IT investments, including ratings from CIOs which should reflect the level of risk facing an investment.

The GAO's objectives were to (1) describe agencies' processes for determining CIO risk ratings for major federal IT investments primarily in development and (2) assess the risk of federal IT investments and analyze any differences with the investments' CIO risk ratings. To do so, the GAO selected major IT investments with at least 80% of their fiscal year 2015 budget allocated to development (resulting in 95 investments across 15 agencies) and compared CIO rating processes to OMB guidance. The GAO also analyzed data on those investments to create its own risk assessments.

The GAO made 25 recommendations to 15 agencies to improve the quality and frequency of CIO ratings.