GAO’s budget includes plans for revamped content distribution system

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The Government Accountability Office is asking Congress to fund an initiative that could help the watchdog agency write and review the hundreds of reports it releases each year. 

In written testimony released last week about its nearly $570 million fiscal year 2017 budget request, GAO mentions plans for a new content management and distribution system called New Blue that would streamline GAO’s sometimes tedious fact-checking process. The new system would also give GAO the ability to publish reports in multiple formats — not just as PDFs — which would make them more accessible on phones and tablets.

The agency finished developing a New Blue prototype last month and hopes to launch a pilot of the system next fiscal year, GAO CIO Howard Williams told FedScoop. 

“New Blue will not only help automate [GAO’s work], but help standardize it,” Williams said. “We have too many different ways we were doing it manually. We really needed to standardize the process to gain the efficiency we were looking for for GAO and enhance productivity.”

The written testimony, prepared for the Senate Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee hearing last week, outlines more details about the New Blue program as well as other projects under GAO’s $56.2 million proposed IT budget. The agency also hopes to upgrade its data center and modernize the agency’s suite of telecommunications tools. 

While GAO Chief Gene Dodaro discussed the need for “updating legacy systems” during the hearing last week, he did not explicitly mention New Blue. 

GAO began working on New Blue in 2012 and continued developing the program despite canceling the program’s procurement in 2014 after it couldn’t find a vendor to meet its needs, Williams said.

“We have had a fairly comprehensive approach to this,” Williams said. “We put out a previous [request for proposals], but cancelled that RFP because we did not get any suitable offers. We then went back, reworked our approach and then put that RFP back there, and last time we were able to make an award, which we are now progressing through.”

In all, Orice Williams Brown, GAO managing director for financial markets and community investment, said that the new system would help the agency better deliver its resources to the public. 

“We are looking at a system to transform how we create our content, and how we are able to take that information we created and give it to the public and clients in a variety of different, usable formats,” she said. 

Contact the reporter on this story via email: Jeremy.Snow@FedScoop.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyM_Snow. Sign up for the Daily Scoop — all the federal IT news you need in your inbox every morning — here: fdscp.com/sign-me-on.

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