GAO calls for urgent action on government IT projects

By Government Health IT Staff
09:59 AM

The U.S government spends more than $80 billion on information technology every year — but many of the projects are riddled with mismanagement that results in underperformance.  

The Government Accountability Office, in fact, published a new report that found “federal investments in IT have often resulted in multimillion dollar cost overruns and years-long schedule delays, with questionable mission-related achievements.”

While the GAO rattled off a list of top “failed investments” spanning many federal departments, the one particular to healthcare it mentioned is the Veterans Affairs contentious outpatient scheduling replacement project was on the list. Health and Human Services took a hit for, which GAO included among its “high-risk initiatives” that have “significant issues requiring attention.” Also in that category: the VA and Defense Department’s ill-fated iEHR initiative to modernize their electronic health records systems.

GAO director of IT management issues David Powner testified June 10 before a House subcommittee that from October 2009 through December 2014, GAO made 737 recommendations to federal agencies about ways to improve IT management and oversight — but as of January 2015, only about 23 percent had been fully implemented,” Government Health IT sister site Healthcare IT News Editor-at-Large Bernie Monegain reported.

"These investments frequently fail, incur cost overruns and schedule slippages, or contribute little to mission-related outcomes," Powner testified. "This underperformance of federal IT projects can be traced to a lack of disciplined and effective management and inadequate executive-level oversight."