U.S. Agencies Fail to Meet 1996 Law on Technology Management

U.S. federal agencies are failing to comply with a 15-year-old law aimed at improving the management of computer systems, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

The agencies, which spend $80 billion annually on technology, lack leadership from their chief information officers to meet requirements on the acquisition and use of technology that were set under the 1996 Clinger-Cohen Act, according to the GAO report released today.

“Just over half of the CIOs reported directly to the head of their respective agencies, which is required by law,” according to the report. The GAO polled 30 CIOs for the report.

The Office of Management and Budget, led by federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel, sets priorities for agencies’ technology use. The budget office “has not established measures of accountability to ensure that responsibilities are fully implemented,” according to the GAO report.

“CIOs do face limitations in exercising their influence in certain IT management areas,” according to the report. “Specifically, CIOs do not always have sufficient control over IT investments, and they often have limited influence over the IT workforce, such as in hiring and firing decisions and the performance of component-level CIOs.”

The budget office in August gave federal CIOs more authority to review investments in hardware and software, eliminate redundant programs, hire managers to oversee projects and implement security programs. The agency didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the GAO report.

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