Defense Dept. submitted inaccurate IT budget for 2004

The Defense Department's fiscal 2004 IT budget is riddled with "material inconsistencies, inaccuracies or omissions that limit its reliability," said the General Accounting Office in a report to a House subcommittee.

GAO found a $1.6 billion discrepancy between two key budget reports, spanning 73 information technology initiatives, including the Defense Information System Network, the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System and the Global Command and Control System.

The result, according to the GAO report, is that Congress and the Office of Management and Budget can't make informed decisions about IT funding. GAO is concerned that this could lead to situations where IT projects are poorly funded, or they are approved or denied based on misleading information.

Examples GAO cited as discrepancies in the Defense Department's budget include:

*The IT budget summary report and the detailed Exhibit 300 Capital Investments Reports on each IT project don't match up. Most notably, there are 15 projects of the budget summary that aren't in the Capital Investments Report.

*IT projects aren't consistently funded using the same appropriations. Some Defense Departments fund their projects through one appropriation while others use another.

*The IT budget summary does not include all the costs related to certain IT initiatives.

GAO made recommendations to the secretary of Defense to establish policies and procedures that would help avoid the discrepancies.

Although the Defense Department agreed or partially agreed with GAO's recommendations, it provided GAO with explanations for some of the discrepancies. For example, the Defense Department told GAO that it worked with OMB to decide which major IT projects had to be reported on the Exhibit 300 reports, and that not all projects required an Exhibit 300.

According to GAO, the Defense Department accounts for about half of the overall government IT budget for fiscal 2004.

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