Federal agencies have improperly classified IT investments and failed to update the status of investments in a timely manner on the Office of Management and Budget’s Federal IT Dashboard, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office on Jan. 13.
The report found some investments that were clearly IT related were reclassified in other categories, expunging them from the dashboard and unfettering them from public scrutiny.
Additionally, GAO found OMB did not update the public version of the dashboard for 15 of the past 24 months. In addition, 27 of the 80 investments investigated were inconsistent with their risk rating.
The Federal IT Dashboard was created in 2009 to report the performance of major IT investments to provide transparency to the public.
“GAO pointed out that vague language in OMB’s reporting guidance allows agencies to reclassify IT investments as non-IT investments,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said in a statement. “As a result, for example, the Department of Energy decided, and OMB agreed, that supercomputers no longer count as IT projects, and has removed them from reporting on the IT Dashboard.”
The United States plans to invest about $38 billion in 2014 in IT investments, according to the report.
Of the 10 investments GAO looked at in the Department of Veterans Affairs, none of the risk ratings were consistent with supporting documents. Only three were partially consistent.
“When the way you collect data is basically a big game of telephone, you get what you expect,” Dominic Sale, chief of data, analytics and reporting at OMB, told the audience at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, Bethesda’s Big Data Technology Symposium held Jan. 14.
GAO recommended OMB should make the dashboard information independent of the budget process and that agencies should categorize investments properly.