Smart Agencies Saved Billions, But Neglect Submitting Reinvestment Plans

According to United States Government Accountability Office,
Billions of Dollars in Savings Have Been Realized by Smart agencies, but they neglected one important key; to submit reinvestment plans. The Government Accountability Office found out that, twenty-four of the 26 federal agencies participating in the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) information technology (IT) reform initiatives reported achieving an estimated total of $3.6 billion dollars in cost savings and avoidances between fiscal years 2011 and 2014. Slightly more than half (or about $2.0 billion) of the savings and avoidances were from data center consolidation and optimization efforts. Notably, of the $3.6 billion total, the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Treasury, and the Social Security Administration accounted for about $2.5 billion (or 69 percent).

Despite these savings, though, most agencies did not fully meet OMB’s requirements to submit reinvestment plan information. Of the 27 agencies required to submit either single or on-going reinvestment plans, 5 agencies had fully complied with the OMB’s guidance, while the remaining 22 had only partially implemented it if at all. For example, most agencies had not fully implemented OMB’s guidance for submitting one-time fiscal year 2014 IT reduction and reinvestment plans as part of OMB’s “cut and reinvest” effort. As a result, agencies’ plans were substantially short of OMB’s overall fiscal year 2014 targets of $7.6 billion in reductions and as much as $7.6 billion in reinvestments, only reaching $3.0 billion in proposed reductions and $2.1 billion in proposed reinvestments. Agencies provided a variety of reasons for not meeting OMB’s requirements, such as that their components had not fully tracked and reported how their savings were to be reinvested.

Auditors reported that, “Until agencies complete their ongoing reinvestment plans, they will be challenged to ensure that their considerable savings are being used in the most efficient and effective manner possible”.

Four selected agencies—the Departments of Education, Interior, Labor, and the Social Security Administration—had documented key governance processes to guide the development of their fiscal year 2014 budget submission, which included proposed IT reinvestments of $350 million, however, none of the four agencies had tracked the reinvestment performance results. The lack of performance tracking is also due to OMB not mandating that agencies document actual results. Additionally, OMB has not defined targets for reinvestments beyond fiscal year 2014. Until OMB requires agencies to track actual reinvestment performance and defines targets, it will be limited in its ability to ensure that agencies are actually reinvesting funds as planned and may not be able to hold them accountable. Without improved tracking, selected agencies may lack assurance that their components are reinvesting in areas consistent with agency-wide goals.

GAO recommended the federal chief information officer ensure that agencies complete reinvestment plans and require them to track where reinvested dollars are going.


Editors Note: Ideas referred from;

Nextgov. N.p., 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 17 Sept. 2015.