US Government opens its books on IT projects

By David Bicknell

The Office of Management and Budget in the US has gone some way to opening up the books on IT investments to public scrutiny with the updating of the Agency’s IT Dashboard.

The move,  announced by Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel, makes publicly available detailed IT investment information in support of the President Obama’s FY 2013 Budget.

The Obama Administration launched the IT Dashboard in 2009 to create  more transparent and open government.

As VanRoekel says in his blog,  “By publicly posting data on more than 700 IT investments across the Federal government, we armed agencies with the tools needed to reduce duplication in IT spending, strengthen the accountability of agency CIOs, and provide more accurate and detailed information on projects and activities. We also gave Americans an unprecedented window into how their tax dollars were being spent.”

VanRoekel says the latest dashboard will provide greater transparency of IT investment performance and empower CIOs to intervene in troubled projects sooner. Changes include:

Making the Dashboard more accessible: the Dashboard will now provide access to individual projects and activities associated with an investment, link investments to funding sources, and include visualisations to track investment performance from year-to-year.

Identifying duplication: New data on what kind of services each investment provides will help US agencies identify and address duplication in their IT portfolios.

Improving data quality: Improved validations and warnings will prevent erroneous data from coming into the system,  while new data quality reports will help agencies identify improvements they can make to their existing data

More data and tools: More datasets are now being made available, as well as additional tools to enable the public to participate by downloading and building their own applications.

According to VanRoekel, the  transparency enhancements will improve the way US taxpayers’ dollars are spent. He argues that by using the IT Dashboard and Techstat accountability developments to focus on the most challenged critical projects, agencies and the Office of Management and Budget have driven reforms that have saved taxpayers upwards of $4 billion since the initial launch.

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