GAO ‘Duplications’ Report Prods OMB, Highlights Cost Savings

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its 2019 Annual Report on Tuesday, May 21, and while the report names a few current areas with duplicative or inefficient IT efforts, it also points to past IT initiatives as examples of Federal success in achieving cost savings.

The current report – sometimes referred to as the “duplications” report – sets out 98 actions across 28 new areas, and adds 33 actions for 11 previously identified areas. The actions largely come from existing GAO reports, emphasizing unfulfilled recommendations on duplicative efforts, or program inefficiencies.

The report points to shared services as an area that could use more work to ensure cost savings and “modernize aging IT systems.”

Along those lines, GAO emphasized recommendations it made in a March 2019 report in which it called on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize a monitoring plan for existing efforts like the NewPay payroll system, documenting key roles, developing a process to provide information to customers, and creating a process to track cost savings. With OMB’s recent shift in shared services, including the addition of cybersecurity as a shared service, Federal IT will likely have a role to play in fulfilling the recommendation.

Another area of action for Federal IT is document services at the Department of Defense, including automated digitization. The GAO report notes that agencies pursued duplicate services from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the Government Publishing Office. GAO recommended that DoD assess whether DLA should be the single manager for document services.

While IT may be on the periphery of this year’s report, GAO highlighted past report recommendations related to Federal IT that have resulted in cost savings.

Most notably, those include ongoing efforts to consolidate Federal data centers, which have generated $4.2 billion in cost savings since 2011. GAO also highlighted the success of IT investment portfolio management activities, noting that “nine agencies migrated commodity IT areas to shared services in response to OMB’s 2012 guidance,” saving $2.5 billion from 2012 to 2017.

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