GAO urges commercial motor agency to re-strategize its IT modernization

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration needs to go back to the drawing board to better plan the modernization its IT systems, says a new report by the Government Accountability Office. 

The FMCSA, an agency within the Department of Transportation that’s responsible for reducing commercial vehicle crashes, initiated an IT modernization strategy and IT strategic plan in 2011 that includes a technical strategy, objectives and mission statement from the administration. But the GAO found that plan lacks any timeline that would support actual implementation of the goals outlined in the strategy. The report did, however, acknowledge that the administration recently awarded a contract to establish such a timeline.

The review assessed FMCSA’s timetable for IT system modernization, its IT governance structure and its procedures for determining IT system effectiveness.

The agency’s Office of the CIO, which was established in an August 2016 governance order, has no structure or defined responsibility within the agency’s IT governance process, according to the report. This concerned the GAO, which noted that FMCSA has “less assurance that its modernization investments will be reviewed by those with the appropriate authority and aligned with agency goals” as long as it operates with no concrete timetable or organizational structure within the OCIO.

The GAO report ultimately recommended five actions for FMCSA to take to improve its IT operations, all of which revolved around modernizing the administration’s outdated legacy IT systems, including updating its strategic IT plan, reviewing its IT investment processes and more.

“FMCSA has begun to address leading practices of IT governance, but its investment governance framework does not adequately establish an investment board, select and reselect investments, and provide investment oversight,” the GAO found. “Specifically, regarding the practice of establishing an IT investment review board, FMCSA has not yet clearly defined roles and responsibilities for key working groups and individuals, including the Office of the CIO.”

The review was spurred by a 2015 provision in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act requiring the GAO to audit the FMCSA’s data management, data collection and IT systems.

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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA, Governmental Accountability Office
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