Technology Affairs Management: OMB and GSA Need to Strengthen Efforts to Lead Federal Adoption

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What the GAO found

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the General Services Administration (GSA) have taken steps to lead the adoption of technology business management across government, but progress and results are limits.

  • OMB’s initial plans in 2017 for government-wide adoption required agencies to report IT spending using categories from the first two layers. The OMB continued to require these two layers to be declared in subsequent plans. However, 5 years after establishing the initial plans, OMB had not expanded the requirements to include the rest of the taxonomy – categories for layers 3 and 4 and subcategories for all layers (see figure).

Extent to which Office of Management and Budget (OMB) plans have considered elements of the Technology Business Management Taxonomy version 3.0

  • The OMB and GSA have helped agencies implement the technology business management framework, for example by developing implementation guidance and a maturity model assessment tool. However, the OMB and GSA did not assess the maturity of the agency. Additionally, they did not analyze the quality of agency data reported in the first two layers.
  • The OMB and GSA released agency-reported data on the Federal Government’s IT Dashboard (Layers 1 and 2), but did not disclose that about $31 billion in investments for the fiscal year 2021 were excluded. Additionally, they did not analyze inconsistencies in fiscal year 2022 data, or discuss the use of benchmarking that would compare spending to organizations of a similar size or mission.

OMB and GSA officials maintain that implementing technology business management continues to be a priority. Nevertheless, until the OMB establishes documented plans and agency expectations for the rest of the taxonomy, uncertainty will cloud the agency’s efforts. In addition, OMB’s continued lack of direction could prevent the federal government from fully achieving intended benefits, such as optimizing IT expenditures.

Why GAO Did This Study

The government faces long-standing challenges with IT management and spending transparency. In 2017, the OMB announced plans to improve understanding of IT spending through government-wide adoption of the Technology Business Management Council framework.

This framework provides a standard taxonomy organized into four layers (Cost Groups, IT Towers, Products & Services, and Business Units & Capabilities) intended to show an organization’s total IT spend from different perspectives. These four layers are made up of expense categories and sub-categories.

GAO was asked to report on the implementation of technology affairs management. GAO’s goal was to identify progress made by the OMB and GSA in the government-wide adoption effort. To do this, the GAO analyzed and compared the plans against relevant criteria, such as the guidelines of the Technology Business Management Council. It also analyzed the data, as reported by the agencies for fiscal years 2021 and 2022, and interviewed relevant officials.

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