Audit: Traffic safety agency’s delayed IT system needs more oversight

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The federal traffic safety agency’s IT system, launched four years ago, needs more management and oversight before it will really help staff collect and analyze data about vehicle defects as it was supposed to, government auditors said.

When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched the new IT system, called the Corporate Information Factory, as a pilot in 2012, it was supposed to “enhance data mining and case management for identifying and investigating potential safety defects.” But poor base infrastructure and flawed customization efforts hurt its potential, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Thursday.

Once fully functional and properly customized for the workflow of the Office of Defects Investigation, the CIF will perform data analysis, data visualization and case management.

ODI expected the system to be fully implemented by April 2015, but delayed the launch due to a bumpy planning phase, software issues and problems implementing the system’s base.

The delays occurred because the office lacked “an overall schedule for customizing and releasing CIF software applications.” Without a detailed schedule, ODI is falling behind on the growing number of safety problems and consumer complaints.

“Given the complexity of implementing the CIF, as well as other changes occurring in ODI to address the challenges discussed above, an overall schedule that sequences work and includes milestones would help ODI manage and prioritize already identified customizations, as well as those that may be identified in the future,” the report stated.

Overall, NHTSA also does not have a strategic plan on how to oversee the safety of new technologies, like crash avoidance systems.

“Realizing the life-saving potential of many new technologies will depend on the agency’s ability to adapt its regulatory and oversight processes to these new technologies,” according to the report.

To improve management, GAO recommends establishing clear lines of authorities within the different offices and outlining how to “coordinate project-management practices.” NHTSA plan to release another strategic plan in spring 2016, they told GAO.

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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Congress, Government Accountability Office (GAO), Government IT News, National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, oversight, Regulations & Oversight
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