Planned federal information technology (IT) spending has now risen to at least $81 billion for fiscal year 2012. As we have previously reported, federal IT projects too frequently incur cost overruns and schedule slippages while contributing little to mission-related outcomes.1 Given the size of these investments and the criticality of many of these systems to the health, economy, and security of the nation, it is important that federal agencies successfully acquire these systems—that is, ensure that the systems are acquired on time and within budget and that they deliver the expected benefits and functionality. This report responds to your request that we: 1. Identify federal IT investments that were or are being successfully acquired. Identify the critical factors that led to the successful acquisition of these investments. To address our first objective, we interviewed the chief information officers (CIO) and other acquisition and procurement officials from selected departments in order to identify one mission-critical, major IT investment2 that was, preferably, operational, and that best achieved its cost, schedule, scope, and performance goals. To address our second objective, we interviewed officials responsible for each investment and asked them what critical factors led to the investment’s success. We then categorized the critical success factors and totaled the number of times each factor was mentioned by the department and agency officials. In order to identify common critical success factors, we generalized critical success factors that were mentioned by three or more investments. We also compared the critical success factors to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management3 in order to determine whether those critical success factors support OMB’s efforts. 2. We conducted our work from December 2010 through October 2011 in accordance with all sections of GAO’s Quality Assurance Framework that are relevant to our objectives. The framework requires that we plan and perform the engagement to obtain sufficient and appropriate evidence to meet our stated objectives and to discuss any limitations in our work. We believe that the information and data obtained, and the analysis conducted, provide a reasonable basis for any findings and conclusions in this product. Further details of our objectives, scope, and methodology are in appendix I.
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