The Office of Management and Budget’s IT Dashboard has improved in the accuracy of its ratings the past 18 months due to a refinement of the dashboard’s cost and schedule calculations, the Government Accountability Office said in a recent report.
GAO compared the performance of eight major investments undergoing development from four agencies with large IT budgets (the Departments of Commerce, Interior, State and General Services Administration) against the corresponding ratings on the Dashboard, and interviewed OMB and agency officials.
Most of the Dashboard’s cost and schedule ratings for the eight selected investments were accurate; however, they did not sufficiently emphasize recent performance for informed oversight and decision making, the report said.
Cost ratings were accurate for four of the investments that GAO reviewed, and schedule ratings were accurate for seven. In general, the number of discrepancies found in GAO’s reviews has decreased. In each case where GAO found rating discrepancies, the Dashboard’s ratings showed poorer performance than GAO’s assessment, the report said.
While the Dashboard’s cost and schedule ratings provide a cumulative view of performance, they did not emphasize current performance—which is needed to meet OMB’s goal of reporting near-real-time performance. GAO’s past work has shown cost and schedule performance information from the most recent six months to be a reliable benchmark for providing a near-real- time perspective on investment status. By combining recent and historical performance, the Dashboard’s ratings may mask the current status of the investment, especially for lengthy acquisitions.
GAO plans to evaluate the new version of the Dashboard once it is publicly available in 2012.
The GAO’s only recommendation in this report was aimed at GSA who had some misinformation on the report because of a project re-establishing a baseline that was not reflected on the dashboard. GAO recommended GSA make that information more clear in the future, a recommendation GSA has agreed to.