March 13, 2006 | Northern Virginia Technology Council B2G Committee Legal Updates

GAO Criticizes Agencies’ Justifications of IT Spending

2 min

The Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) recently issued a Report which concluded that “[u]nderlying support was often inadequate for information provided” in the Capital Asset Plans and Business Cases (“exhibit 300”) that agencies submit to the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) before requesting substantial financial commitment for information technology (“IT”). 

The GAO stated that these exhibits’ “content should reflect controls that agencies have established to ensure good project management, as well as showing that they have defined cost, schedule, and performance goals.  It is thus a tool to help OMB and agencies identify and correct poorly planned or performing investments.  In its budget and oversight role, OMB relies on the accuracy and completeness of this information.”

However, the Report said that, of those exhibit 300s reviewed, all “had documentation weaknesses.”  The GAO identified three major types of problems: 

  • First, “[d]ocumentation either did not exist or did not fully agree with specific areas of the exhibit 300.  For example, both these problems occurred in relation to calculations of financial benefits for most investments.” 
  • Second, “[a]gencies did not always demonstrate that they complied with federal or departmental requirements or policies with regard to management and reporting processes.” 
  • Third, “[i]n sections that required actual cost data, these data were unreliable because they were not derived from cost-accounting systems with adequate controls.” 

The Report stated that the GAO “is making recommendations aimed at improving guidance and training in exhibit 300 requirements and at ensuring limitations on reliability are disclosed and mitigated.”

Full GAO Report is available at:

This update is published by Venable LLP. Venable publications are not intended to provide legal advice or opinion. Such advice may only be given when related to specific fact situations. © Copyright by Venable LLP 2006.