Dismal State of Information Technology in US Government

The US Senateâ''s Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security heard testimony yesterday on what its describes as the â''Dismal State of Information Technology Planning in the Federal Government.â''

And dismal it is.

According to the US Government Accountability Office, "OMB (Office of Management and Budget) and federal agencies have identified approximately 413 IT projects--totaling at least $25.2 billion in expenditures for fiscal year 2008--as being poorly planned, poorly performing, or both. Specifically, through the Management Watch List process, OMB determined that 352 projects (totaling about $23.4 billion) are poorly planned. In addition, agencies reported that 87 of their high risk projects (totaling about $4.8 billion) were poorly performing. Twenty-six projects (totaling about $3 billion) are considered both poorly planned and poorly performing.â''

In addition, the GAO noted, that â''48 percent of the federal government's major IT projects have been rebaselined for several reasons, including changes in project goals and changes in funding. Of those rebaselined projects, 51 percent were rebaselined at least twice and about 11 percent were rebaselined 4 times or more.â''

Rebaselining a project is an old trick to make projects appear in better shape than they really are.

Why the government continues to fund poorly planned and poorly performing projects instead of calling on the IT mercy rule is beyond me.

Government Executive magazine has three stories (here, here and here) on what transpired at the hearing in more detail for those you with a strong stomach.


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Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City