GAO gives White House passing grade on IT efforts

The Executive Office of the President has advanced its handling of its systems, but there's still room for improvement, the General Accounting Office told lawmakers in an analysis released July 1.


"EOP's efforts at this juncture should be viewed as work in progress, as opposed to completed tasks. This means that the office's modernization success largely depends on its ability and resolve in fulfilling its plans and commitments," said the letter sent to Capitol Hill committees with White House oversight.


The fiscal 2002 EOP Appropriations Act mandated that EOP submit a report to the House and Senate Appropriations committees outlining its work in developing four items:

*An officewide architecture;

*A capital planning and investment control process;

*A capital investment plan;

*A human capital management plan.


Congress limited EOP's spending on systems modernization until it detailed its progress to lawmakers. The White House sent its report to Congress in mid-April.

"EOP has made progress, and it has made plans and future commitments relative to each of the four areas addressed in its report," said the review signed by Randolph Hite, GAO's director of IT architecture and systems issues.


In response to a draft of the analysis, the associate counsel to the president told GAO that the EOP's systems chief "was satisfied with the substance of the report, and that the White House had no substantive comments."

EOP has finished a business reference model that describes its administrative processes and IT requirements, noted the review, "Executive Office of the President: Analysis of Mandated Report on Key IT Areas."


The model also outlines the White House's existing networks and infrastructure. EOP still is working on an officewide architecture, which will be used to modernize its operations, the GAO analysis said. The chief information officer's office controls IT investments by requiring that project managers submit a standard briefing each month, GAO said.


The EOP briefing template evaluates an initiative's progress against cost, schedule and performance commitments. EOP is focusing on low-risk and high-payoff projects, such as a $5 million redesign and relocation of its data center and a $1.5 million project to replace desktop PCs and improve customer service, GAO said.


Finally, the audit team found the White House's IT team is assessing its human resources needs against 14 core knowledge and skill areas it has identified as crucial to support current and future operations. EOP has begun training staff in some of the areas and plans on hiring additional staff, GAO said.

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