Information technology: Digital service programs need to coordinate coherently to develop guidance for agencies


What GAO found

For fiscal 2021, 26 federal agencies reported 7,806 information technology (IT) investments on the Federal IT Dashboard, a public website launched in 2009 by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB requires agencies to report their IT investments on the dashboard and categorize them in various ways that help describe their purpose. For fiscal year 2021, agencies reported their investments in one of three portfolio categories: IT infrastructure, security and management (45%); mission delivery (37 percent); and mission support services (18 percent). Additionally, agencies must classify each of their investments into one of 225 different service categories. The two service categories with the highest planned spending for fiscal 2021 were IT infrastructure ($ 17.9 billion) and healthcare delivery services ($ 3.9 billion).

Over the past 10 years, GAO has released 12 reports that included 275 recommendations to agencies to address IT duplication issues, such as weaknesses in the processes agencies use to reduce contract duplication. GAO also made 117 recommendations in six reports to address issues with roles and responsibilities in IT management, such as unclear responsibilities of CIOs and procurement managers. By October 2021, agencies had implemented a total of 290 (74%) of the recommendations. Implementing the remaining 102 would give agencies greater assurance that they are effectively managing IT acquisitions and operations.

Status of GAO Recommendations for Information Technology (IT) Roles and Responsibilities and Duplicate IT Management, as of October 2021

Number of associated recommendations

Number fully implemented

Number not fully implemented

Duplicate computing


238 (87 percent)

37 (13 percent)

Roles and responsibilities


52 (44 percent)

65 (56 percent)





Source: GAO analysis of GAO reports. | GAO-22-104492

The OMB’s U.S. Digital Service (USDS) and the General Services Administration’s 18F program offices help agencies deliver digital services, such as public websites and online delivery applications. These offices carry out similar activities to fulfill their missions, such as providing IT expertise on agency projects, recruiting IT experts, and developing advice to help agencies. Although the USDS and 18F have coordinated on projects and recruiting efforts, they have not always done so to avoid developing duplicative IT guidelines. Specifically, neither entity had an established and documented coordination approach, even though they had published guidance on the same IT acquisition and development topics with similar content. USDS and 18F officials recognized the need to improve guidance coordination, but did not have specific plans to do so. Documenting a coordinated approach to developing and issuing guidance would reduce the risk of overlap and duplication, as well as the potential for conflicting information.

Why GAO did this study

Federal agencies spend more than $ 100 billion a year on information technology to improve mission execution and support; and improve infrastructure, security and management. However, due to long-standing challenges, the federal government’s management of IT procurement and operations has been on GAO’s high-risk list since 2015.

The Government’s Technology Modernization Act, 2017 included a provision for GAO to review federal IT programs and entities, including USDS and 18F, and the extent to which they duplicate work.

This report (1) describes the investments identified on the Federal IT Dashboard, (2) summarizes previous GAO recommendations and the current state of implementation on IT duplication and management roles and responsibilities, and ( 3) Evaluate the efforts of USDS and 18F to coordinate IT services to avoid duplication. and duplicates.

To do this, the GAO (1) examined the computer data reported by 26 agencies on the federal IT dashboard; (2) identified previous GAO reports that assessed duplicate IT and IT roles and responsibilities, and determined the number and status of implementation of relevant recommendations; and (3) compared USDS and 18F coordination activities with key collaborative practices identified in previous GAO work.


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