Bureau of Land Management:

Plan Needed to Sustain Progress in Establishing IT Investment Management Capabilities

GAO-03-1025: Published: Sep 12, 2003. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 2003.

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The mission of the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is to maintain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. BLM employs about 11,000 people, with information technology (IT) playing a critical role in helping BLM perform its responsibilities. The bureau estimates that it will spend about $146 million on IT initiatives in fiscal year 2003. GAO was asked to evaluate BLM's IT investment management (ITIM) capabilities and determine the bureau's plans for improving these capabilities. GAO's evaluation was based on applying its ITIM maturity framework, which identifies critical processes for successful IT investment management.

BLM has made progress in establishing its ITIM capabilities. Specifically, BLM has established most of the key practices associated with building an investment foundation. For example, the bureau has established a board for managing IT investments, implemented processes to ensure that IT projects support business needs and meet users' requirements, and established a process for selecting IT proposals. In addition, the bureau has efforts under way to address the key practices it has not yet established. BLM has also initiated efforts to manage its investments as a portfolio. For example, it has established a council to support portfolio management activities and begun defining portfolio selection criteria. BLM has also begun performing postimplementation reviews to learn lessons that will help define and implement an IT investment evaluation process. However BLM's progress to date in defining practices for managing its investments as a portfolio has been limited because, according to its officials, its investment board first focused its resources on establishing the processes associated with building the IT investment management foundation. Although BLM has made progress in developing its IT investment process, it has not yet developed a plan to guide its efforts in this area and, as a result, may not be able to successfully establish more mature ITIM processes. According to the chief information officer, this is because BLM wanted to develop an ITIM plan that is integrated with improvement plans for other IT management areas, and the results of the comprehensive assessment that were to be used as the basis for such a plan were obtained only in June 2003. BLM officials agree that this plan is necessary for guiding improvement efforts and stated their intention to develop one. Developing such a plan will help BLM sustain progress made to date.

Status Legend:

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  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To strengthen BLM's IT investment management capability and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the BLM Director to develop and implement a plan for improving its IT investment management process that is based on GAO's ITIM stage 2 and 3 critical processes. The plan should, at a minimum, fully define criteria for analyzing and prioritizing new IT proposals.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In September 2005, BLM issued an IT Capital Planning and Investment Control Guide (CPIC Guide) which, among other things, defines procedures for pre-selecting and selecting IT investments, including the specific criteria to be used in analyzing and prioritizing the IT investments being presented to the IT Investment Board and other executive management committees. The criteria are consistent with the GAO ITIM framework's requirements for criteria, in that they address, for example, organizational objectives, customer needs, and cost benefit analyses.

    Recommendation: To strengthen BLM's IT investment management capability and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the BLM Director to develop and implement a plan for improving its IT investment management process that is based on GAO's ITIM stage 2 and 3 critical processes. The plan should, at a minimum, define and implement policies and procedures for collecting project and system information in the Budget Planning System for investment management purposes.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: BLM issued user guides for the Budget Planning System (BPS) and another system named Electronic Capital Planning and Investment Control System (eCPIC) that specify that these systems are to be used to collect project and system information for managing and controlling BLM's IT initiatives. The guides were issued in January and March 2006, respectively. In addition, the bureau's update of its IT Capital Planning and Investment Control Guide, which is currently undergoing review (as of 8/24/07), includes guidance on the use of BPS and eCPIC to support the investment management process. BLM officials also provided evidence that the systems are being used for collecting project and system information to help the agency in the management and control of its initiatives, portfolios, and investment priorities.

    Recommendation: To strengthen BLM's IT investment management capability and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the BLM Director to develop and implement a plan for improving its IT investment management process that is based on GAO's ITIM stage 2 and 3 critical processes. The plan should, at a minimum, implement the recently approved procedures for determining corrective actions for projects that have not met performance expectations.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In September 2005, BLM issued an IT Capital Planning and Investment Control Guide (CPIC Guide) which, among other things, documents the processes and activities to be followed in evaluating IT investments and identifying corrective actions if necessary. The CPIC Guide requires the completion of quarterly scorecards to provide project status on cost, schedule, benefits, and risks. The guide also requires a Corrective Action Report for those projects outside the acceptable control range. BLM provided evidence of a quarterly scorecard for a major BLM investment. Also, a BLM official reported that none of BLM's systems have required a corrective action plan since the requirement for developing a corrective action plan was written into the CPIC Guide in 2005.

    Recommendation: In implementing the plan, the BLM Director should ensure that the needed resources are provided and that progress is measured and reported periodically to the Secretary of the Interior.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In September 2005, BLM issued its Information Technology Investment Management Process Maturity Plan to document the bureau's strategy to manage its IT investments. According to BLM officials, the BLM Director has provided the needed resources (i.e., contract support and funding) to support implementing the plan. In addition, assessments of progress in implementing the plan are reported to the Secretary of the Interior on a quarterly basis. BLM provided evidence of the most recent Stages 2 and 3 assessments for the second and third quarters of fiscal year 2007.

    Recommendation: In developing the plan, the BLM Director should ensure that it (1) is based on the results of the bureau's recent assessment of ITIM stage 2 capabilities; (2) specifies measurable goals, objectives, milestones, and outcomes; (3) specifies needed resources; and (4) assigns clear responsibility and accountability for accomplishing well-defined tasks.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In September 2005, BLM issued its Information Technology Investment Management (ITIM) Process Maturity Plan to document the bureau's strategy to manage its IT investment for achieving a higher level of ITIM maturity capability. This plan, based on the results of a self-assessment of the core elements/key practices for Stage 2 of GAO's ITIM Guide, identifies tasks and milestones for achieving Stage 2 and 3 process maturity. The plan states that BLM would use tools, such as self-assessments and IV & V analysis, to (1) specify measurable goals, objectives, milestones, and outcomes, (2) specify needed resources, and (3) assign clear responsibilities and accountability for accomplishing well-defined tasks. BLM provided evidence of its most recent Stages 2 and 3 self-assessments for the second and third quarters of fiscal year 2007, both of which indicated 100 percent implementation of Stages 2 and 3 critical processes. The bureau also provided an example of an IV & V analysis performed on a major IT investment.

    Recommendation: To strengthen BLM's IT investment management capability and address the weaknesses discussed in this report, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the BLM Director to develop and implement a plan for improving its IT investment management process that is based on GAO's ITIM stage 2 and 3 critical processes. The plan should, at a minimum, proceed with plans to define and implement all stage 3 critical processes, which are necessary for portfolio management.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: BLM's Information Technology Investment Management Process Maturity Plan, dated September 2005, includes steps for defining and implementing Stage 3 criteria processes, including performing a self assessment. On a quarterly basis, the bureau is to submit an ITIM Stage 3 self-assessment status report to the Department, which outlines the progress made in achieving 100 percent implementation of Stage 3 practices. BLM provided evidence of the most recent assessments for the second and third quarters of fiscal year 2007, both of which indicated 100 percent implementation of Stage 3 critical processes.

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