U.S. federal agencies 'duplicating IT investments,' says gov't report

The U.S. government said in a report that twelve IT investments were duplicated at three federal agencies, which amounted to $321 million in taxpayer terms.

U.S. GAO building Image: Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. government's accountability office warned that $321 million was wasted on duplicated government IT projects by three federal agencies over the course of the last five years. 

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The report published last week by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted there were, in total:

  • two "potentially duplicative investments" at U.S. Homeland Security (DHS) designed to help immigration officials apprehend illegal aliens suspected of committing criminal acts in violation of U.S. immigration law;

  • four investments at the U.S. Defense Department (DOD), including two designed to track warfighters' health. Two programs managed dental care, while the one remaining was canceled;

  • and six similarly potentially duplicative investments at U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), including enterprise information security and Medicare coverage determination.

The GAO was tasked with reviewing duplicative IT investments from three of the largest named spenders to determine whether this budgeted money was being spent efficiently.

According to the GAO, the federal government budgets for about $82 billion for IT each year. The accountability office said because this figure is so large, it's important that agencies avoid duplication or creating duplicative systems to maximize the annual investment. 

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(Source: GAO analysis)

According to the report, the DHS said two of its immigration booking investments were due in part to one of its agencies' having unique requirements. But in one case, DOD officials recognized that one of its programs were duplicative and was later canceled. HHS officials disagreed with the GAO's assertions that its information security investments could have been duplicative, but nonetheless planned to review the programs this September. 

In its closing remarks, the GAO was assured the named agencies "are avoiding investing in unnecessary systems and thus saving resources."