January 24, 2022

News

News Network

Information Technology: Key Attributes of Essential Federal Mission-Critical Acquisitions

6 min read
<div>Federal agencies are undertaking information technology (IT) acquisitions that are essential to their missions. GAO identified 16 of these acquisitions as particularly critical to missions ranging from national security, to public health, to the economy (see table). GAO has previously reported on these acquisitions and the programs they support, and has made numerous recommendations to agencies for improvement. The amount agencies expect to spend on the selected acquisitions vary greatly depending on their scope and complexity, as well as the extent of transformation and modernization that agencies envision once the acquisitions are fully deployed. For example, the Department of Defense plans to spend $10.21 billion over 21 years on its health care modernization initiative, while the Department of Homeland Security intends to spend $3.19 billion over 30 years on its system supporting immigration benefits processing. Agencies reported potential cost savings associated with 13 of the 16 mission-critical acquisitions after deployment due to factors such as shutting down legacy systems, eliminating physical paper processing, and improving security, monitoring, and management. Eleven of the 16 selected acquisitions were rebaselined during their development, meaning that the project's cost, schedule, or performance goals were modified to reflect new circumstances. Agencies reported a number of reasons as to why their acquisitions were rebaselined, including delays in defining the cost, schedule, and scope; budget cuts and hiring freezes; technical challenges; and changes in development approach. As shown below, ten of the acquisitions relate to an additional programmatic area that GAO has designated high risk. Federal Agency Mission-Critical Information Technology Acquisitions Department of Agriculture Modernize and Innovate the Delivery of Agricultural Systems Department of Commerce 2020 Decennial Census* Department of Defense Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization* Global Combat Support System-Army* Department of Homeland Security Student and Exchange Visitor Information System Modernization* U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Transformation* Department of the Interior Automated Fluid Minerals Support System II* Department of Justice Next Generation Identification System Terrorist Screening System Department of State Consular System Modernization Department of Transportation Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Department of the Treasury Customer Account Data Engine 2* Integrated Enterprise Portal* Department of Veterans Affairs Electronic Health Record Modernization* Small Business Administration Application Standard Investment Social Security Administration Disability Case Processing System 2* Legend: *= Acquisition relates to a programmatic area that GAO has previously designated as being high risk. Source: GAO analysis of agency data. | GAO-20-249SP The acquisition of IT systems has presented challenges to federal agencies. Accordingly, in 2015 GAO identified the management of IT acquisitions and operations as a high-risk area, a designation it retains today. GAO was asked to report on federal IT acquisitions. GAO's specific objective was to identify essential mission-critical IT acquisitions across the federal government and determine their key attributes. To identify acquisitions for the review, GAO administered a questionnaire to the 24 agencies covered by the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 asking them to identify their five most important mission-critical IT acquisitions. From a total of 101 acquisitions that were identified, GAO selected 16 mission-critical IT acquisitions to profile in this report. The selection was based on various factors, including the acquisition's criticality to providing service to the nation, its total life cycle costs, and its applicability to the President's Management Agenda. For each of the 16 selected acquisitions, GAO obtained and analyzed documents on cost, schedule, risks, governance, and related information; and interviewed cognizant agency officials. GAO requested comments from the 12 agencies with acquisitions profiled in its draft report and the Office of Management and Budget. In response, one agency (the Social Security Administration) provided comments that discussed the planned use of its system. For more information, contact Carol C. Harris at (202) 512-4456 or harriscc@gao.gov.</div>

What GAO Found

Federal agencies are undertaking information technology (IT) acquisitions that are essential to their missions. GAO identified 16 of these acquisitions as particularly critical to missions ranging from national security, to public health, to the economy (see table). GAO has previously reported on these acquisitions and the programs they support, and has made numerous recommendations to agencies for improvement.

The amount agencies expect to spend on the selected acquisitions vary greatly depending on their scope and complexity, as well as the extent of transformation and modernization that agencies envision once the acquisitions are fully deployed. For example, the Department of Defense plans to spend $10.21 billion over 21 years on its health care modernization initiative, while the Department of Homeland Security intends to spend $3.19 billion over 30 years on its system supporting immigration benefits processing. Agencies reported potential cost savings associated with 13 of the 16 mission-critical acquisitions after deployment due to factors such as shutting down legacy systems, eliminating physical paper processing, and improving security, monitoring, and management.

Eleven of the 16 selected acquisitions were rebaselined during their development, meaning that the project’s cost, schedule, or performance goals were modified to reflect new circumstances. Agencies reported a number of reasons as to why their acquisitions were rebaselined, including delays in defining the cost, schedule, and scope; budget cuts and hiring freezes; technical challenges; and changes in development approach.

As shown below, ten of the acquisitions relate to an additional programmatic area that GAO has designated high risk.

Federal Agency Mission-Critical Information Technology Acquisitions

Department of Agriculture

Modernize and Innovate the Delivery of Agricultural Systems

Department of Commerce

2020 Decennial Census*

Department of Defense

Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization*

Global Combat Support System-Army*

Department of Homeland Security

Student and Exchange Visitor Information System Modernization*

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Transformation*

Department of the Interior

Automated Fluid Minerals Support System II*

Department of Justice

Next Generation Identification System

Terrorist Screening System

Department of State

Consular System Modernization

Department of Transportation

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast

Department of the Treasury

Customer Account Data Engine 2*

Integrated Enterprise Portal*

Department of Veterans Affairs

Electronic Health Record Modernization*

Small Business Administration

Application Standard Investment

Social Security Administration

Disability Case Processing System 2*

Legend: *= Acquisition relates to a programmatic area that GAO has previously designated as being high risk.

Source: GAO analysis of agency data. | GAO-20-249SP

Why GAO Did This Study

The acquisition of IT systems has presented challenges to federal agencies. Accordingly, in 2015 GAO identified the management of IT acquisitions and operations as a high-risk area, a designation it retains today.

GAO was asked to report on federal IT acquisitions. GAO’s specific objective was to identify essential mission-critical IT acquisitions across the federal government and determine their key attributes.

To identify acquisitions for the review, GAO administered a questionnaire to the 24 agencies covered by the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 asking them to identify their five most important mission-critical IT acquisitions. From a total of 101 acquisitions that were identified, GAO selected 16 mission-critical IT acquisitions to profile in this report. The selection was based on various factors, including the acquisition’s criticality to providing service to the nation, its total life cycle costs, and its applicability to the President’s Management Agenda.

For each of the 16 selected acquisitions, GAO obtained and analyzed documents on cost, schedule, risks, governance, and related information; and interviewed cognizant agency officials.

GAO requested comments from the 12 agencies with acquisitions profiled in its draft report and the Office of Management and Budget. In response, one agency (the Social Security Administration) provided comments that discussed the planned use of its system.

For more information, contact Carol C. Harris at (202) 512-4456 or harriscc@gao.gov.

News Network

  • DRL Supporting Peaceful Elections in Ethiopia
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
    Bureau of Democracy, [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken To Mission Ukraine Staff
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Responding to Modern Cyber Threats with Diplomacy and Deterrence
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Dr. Christopher Ashley [Read More…]
  • Climate Resilience: Actions Needed to Ensure DOD Considers Climate Risks to Contractors as Part of Acquisition, Supply, and Risk Assessment
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) has not routinely assessed climate-related risks faced by its contractors as part of its acquisition and supply processes, through which DOD obtains contracted goods and services. DOD's acquisition process includes long-term planning activities such as life-cycle sustainment planning. Its supply chain process includes steps to identify and assess potential disruptions, such as severe storms affecting transportation or energy systems, in order to mitigate risk. However, these processes in general do not systematically identify and consider climate-related risks to materiel acquisition and supply or the acquisition of weapon systems, according to Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and military department officials. DOD's climate change adaptation directive indicates that OSD and the military departments should include climate considerations in acquisition and supply and integrate those considerations into relevant policy and guidance. However, GAO's review of DOD and military department guidance on acquisition and supply found that the guidance did not implement DOD's climate change directive by including consideration of climate change or extreme weather. Until DOD and the military departments include these considerations in their guidance on acquisition and supply chain processes, they risk continuing to develop acquisition strategies and managing supply chains without building climate resilience into these processes and potentially jeopardizing their missions. DOD guidance requires consideration of climate-related risks as part of the mission assurance process, when appropriate. However, GAO found that the department has not assessed risks—including those associated with climate change or extreme weather—to commercially owned facilities, which can support DOD installations as well as weapon systems, as part of this process. Assessing risks to commercial facilities has been a longstanding challenge for DOD, with the department noting in 2012 that it had paid inadequate attention to challenges outside of DOD-owned facilities and citing a limited understanding of supply chain risks as a pervasive problem. DOD's mission assurance guidance includes minimum requirements for assessments of certain non-DOD-owned facilities, such as completion of an all-hazards threat assessment. However, DOD officials stated that they had not conducted such assessments. The officials noted that DOD is limited in its ability to conduct such assessments, as it does not have the same access to commercial facilities as it does to its own facilities. While DOD officials stated that they are exploring alternative ways of assessing risks to commercial facilities, they noted that these efforts are in the early stages. Without determining what approaches may be feasible for assessing risks to commercial facilities as part of the mission assurance process and issuing or updating guidance accordingly, DOD may not fully evaluate the risks to critical commercial facilities as part of the mission assurance process, leaving gaps in its knowledge of potential risks—to include climate and weather-related risks—to its ability to fulfill key missions dependent on such facilities. Since 2010, DOD has identified climate change as a threat to its operations and installations. The department relies on contracted goods and services for its mission and installations. Climate change is projected to have broad effects that could affect DOD's supply chains, and any associated risks to contractors can have an impact on DOD. One way DOD assesses risk to its missions is through mission assurance, which is a process to protect or ensure the function of capabilities and assets critical to its missions. GAO was asked to review potential threats to national security from the effects of climate change on defense contractors. GAO examined the extent to which DOD assesses the potential effects on its operations from climate change and extreme weather risks faced by its contractors through the department's (1) acquisition and supply processes, and (2) mission assurance process. GAO reviewed DOD acquisition, supply, and mission assurance documents and interviewed relevant DOD officials and contractor representatives. GAO is making six recommendations, including that DOD incorporate climate adaptation into its acquisition and supply guidance and issue or update guidance on mission assurance-related assessments for commercial facilities. DOD concurred with three recommendations and partially concurred with three. GAO continues to believe that DOD should fully implement its recommendations. For more information, contact Elizabeth A. Field at (202) 512-2775 or fielde1@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Indian national pleads guilty to role in nationwide tech support refund scam
    In Justice News
    A 27-year-old Indian [Read More…]
  • Alaska Defendant Pleads Guilty for Threatening Los Angeles Synagogue
    In Crime News
    An Alaska defendant pleaded guilty today to making threats to a synagogue and attempting to obstruct the free exercise of religious beliefs in Los Angeles, California.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Withdraws from Settlement with the National Association of Realtors
    In Crime News
    Today the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division filed a notice of withdrawal of consent to a proposed settlement with the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The department has also filed to voluntarily dismiss its complaint without prejudice. The department determined that the settlement will not adequately protect the department’s rights to investigate other conduct by NAR that could impact competition in the real estate market and may harm home sellers and home buyers. The department is taking this action to permit a broader investigation of NAR’s rules and conduct to proceed without restriction.
    [Read More…]
  • Former Energy Broker Pleads Guilty to Insider Trading and Kickback Scheme
    In Crime News
    A former Texas energy broker pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit commodities fraud and wire fraud and to violate various provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act for his role in an insider trading and kickback scheme. 
    [Read More…]
  • China Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to the [Read More…]
  • Bowling Green Man Arrested on Multiple Terrorism Charges
    In Crime News
    A federal court in Kentucky unsealed an indictment today charging a dual U.S.-Bosnian citizen with providing material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.
    [Read More…]
  • Man Sentenced for His Role in COVID-19 Relief Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Wisconsin man was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for fraudulently seeking over $600,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
    [Read More…]
  • Texas Clinic Owner and Clinic Employee Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Unlawfully Prescribe Hundreds of Thousands of Opioids
    In Crime News
    A Houston-area pain clinic owner and a clinic employee who posed as a physician were sentenced to 240 months and 96 months in prison, respectively, today for their roles at a “pill mill” where they and their co-conspirator illegally prescribed hundreds of thousands of doses of opioids and other controlled substances.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Israeli Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Lapid
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • United States Sanctions Two Hizballah Officials
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Six Additional Individuals Indicted On Antitrust Charges In Ongoing Broiler Chicken Investigation
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court in Denver, Colorado, returned a superseding indictment charging six additional defendants for their roles in a previously indicted conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products, and containing additional allegations against the previously charged defendants in the same conspiracy, the Department of Justice announced today.  The superseding indictment also charges one defendant with making false statements and obstruction of justice. 
    [Read More…]
  • Nicaragua’s Breaking of Diplomatic Relations with Taiwan 
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Sentencing of Canadian Citizen Michael Spavor
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Bank Secrecy Act: Views on Proposals to Improve Banking Access for Entities Transferring Funds to High-Risk Countries
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Money transmitters and nonprofits that transfer funds to recipients in countries at high risk for money laundering or terrorist financing have reported bank account closures and delays or denials of requests to transfer funds. These banking access challenges can affect the provision of financial support and humanitarian aid in areas experiencing political conflicts or natural disasters. Bank representatives told GAO they limit or deny services to money transmitters and nonprofits largely because of their efforts to comply with Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) regulations. For instance, they cited the high costs of conducting the due diligence necessary to ensure funds distributed in high-risk countries are not used for illicit purposes. They noted that these countries often lack adequate and transparent frameworks for countering money laundering and terrorist financing. Bank representatives also cited heightened scrutiny they receive from regulators when banking higher-risk money transmitters and nonprofits and uncertainty about regulatory expectations for conducting due diligence. Among the representatives of banks, money transmitters, nonprofits, and federal agencies with whom GAO spoke, views varied on the best ways to address money transmitters' and nonprofits' banking access challenges. These industry stakeholders and federal agency staff discussed the benefits, limitations, and other considerations associated with several proposals commonly cited in relevant literature to improve banking access for money transmitters and nonprofits. For example: Know-your-customer utilities refer to centralized sources of customer information (e.g., documentation of their licensing or internal controls) that banks can access to conduct their BSA/AML due diligence. Some industry stakeholders said use of these utilities for money transmitter or nonprofit information could lower banks' general compliance costs—particularly if the utilities provided analysis of customer risks that banks could rely on to satisfy their due diligence requirements. However, among other limitations, these utilities would not solve key due diligence challenges associated with the lack of transparency in some high-risk countries, according to some stakeholders and federal agency staff. An enhanced federal role in facilitating fund transfers could be useful in emergency humanitarian cases in countries where the high risk of money laundering or terrorist financing generally impedes banking services, according to several stakeholders and some federal banking regulator staff. For example, a U.S. agency with a physical presence in a particularly high-risk country could serve as the intermediate recipient of funds, with responsibility for distributing the funds to the intended beneficiaries. However, staff from the Department of the Treasury said such federal involvement could have unintended consequences. For example, if the U.S. government were to make it easier to transfer funds to countries considered high risk because they lack proper governance, it could reduce those countries' motivation to enact fundamental government reforms to lower their risk levels. Why GAO Did This Study Some money transmitters (a type of nonbank financial institution) and nonprofit charitable organizations transfer funds to foreign countries' populations in need, such as areas experiencing conflicts or humanitarian crises. These organizations need bank accounts and other bank services to make these fund transfers. However, banks may be reluctant to provide these services when recipients of funds are in countries at high risk for money laundering or terrorist financing. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 included a provision for GAO to identify options to address this issue. This report discusses banking access challenges reported by U.S. money transmitters and nonprofits that transfer funds to recipients in high-risk countries and the drivers of these challenges, and stakeholder views on proposals for increasing banks' willingness to serve these customers, among other objectives. GAO reviewed academic, industry, international organization, and think tank literature, as well as documentation from federal banking regulators and Treasury. GAO also interviewed agency staff, industry associations, and experts and held five discussion groups with representatives of banks, money transmitters, and nonprofits, which were selected to reflect a range of sizes and geographic areas served. For more information, contact Michael E. Clements at (202) 512-8678 or clementsm@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Michael R. Pompeo And Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Three New Views of Mars’ Moon Phobos
    In Space
    Taken with the infrared [Read More…]

Crime

Network News © 2005 Area.Control.Network™ All rights reserved.