State Department IT investments lack central oversight, IG report finds

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participates in a question and answer session at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia in July 2020. (State Department / Freddie Everett)

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The State Department still doesn’t route all bureau and office IT procurements to its chief information office for approval, despite establishing a process to approve contracts, according to its Office of Inspector General.

OIG performed an audit of the department’s process for selecting and approving IT investments and found the Bureau of Information Resource Management could do more to centralize oversight and avoid duplicative purchases. The State Department spent $2.5 billion on IT in fiscal 2019.

The audit was a follow-up to a March 2016 report that found the State Department lacked a “defined process” that met Office of Management and Budget requirements, although five of OIG’s seven recommendations have since been closed.

“Until additional actions are taken, IRM will not be able to fully identify duplicative systems and related cost-saving opportunities, optimize its IT investments, or promote shared services,” reads the follow-up report released Wednesday.

OIG recommended IRM conduct a benchmark assessment of the agency’s IT portfolio to find duplicative systems despite mitigating duplication by creating a process for comparing investment requests — and then implement a strategy to combine, implement or replace such systems.

Despite adopting OMB guidance and updating internal policy on recording IT investment in a portfolio management system, iMatrix, IRM needs a way to review reorganizations, OIG recommended.

IRM verbally concurred with OIG’s recommendations in a July 15 meeting.

OIG further recommended the Bureau of Administration identify IT-related acquisitions of $10,000 or more, a finding it agreed with.

IRM failed to make substantial progress on two OIG recommendations from the 2016 report. The bureau still hasn’t reviewed the IT investment methods of all bureaus of enforced the requirement that they and other State Department offices avoid duplication.

“These actions are needed to improve accountability and to further identify and avoid duplicative IT investments,” reads the report.

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Bureau of Information Resource Management, information technology, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), State Department
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