The IT Investments Dashboard – The United States Government Approach

As we were reading the recently released United States Government Accountability Office reports – as one does – our eyes caught mention of the United States Government IT Dashboard.

Whilst the report makes for interesting reading – see below for link – it is the concept of the IT dashboard that is worthy of further examination as part of our occasional variation away from the Report of the Week into the territory of new ideas that all companies should consider.

The Federal IT Dashboard – www.itdashboard.gov – states its aim as follows:

A website enabling federal agencies, industry, the general public and other stakeholders to view details of federal information technology investments.

The purpose of the Dashboard is to provide information on the effectiveness of government IT programs and to support decisions regarding the investment and management of resources. The Dashboard is now being used by the Administration and Congress to make budget and policy decisions.

The below mentioned GAO report provides further context:

Given the importance of transparency, oversight, and management of the government’s IT investments, in June 2009, OMB established a public website, referred to as the IT Dashboard, that provides detailed information on 760 major IT investments at 27 federal agencies, including ratings of their performance against cost and schedule targets. The public dissemination of this information is intended to allow OMB; other oversight bodies, including Congress; and the general public to hold agencies accountable for results and performance. Among other things, agencies are to submit Chief Information Officer (CIO) ratings, which, according to OMB’s instructions, should reflect the level of risk facing an investment on a scale from 1 (high risk) to 5 (low risk) relative to that investment’s ability to accomplish its goals. 

It allows for real time assessment such as

As of April 2014, according to the IT Dashboard, 201 of the federal government’s 760 major IT investments—totaling $12.4 billion—were in need of management attention (rated “yellow” to indicate the need for attention or “red” to indicate significant concerns).

Not surprisingly given the magnitude of the undertaking there has been concerns raised about the accuracy of the underlying source data and the GAO notes that efforts have been made to address these deficiencies.

That being said, however, the question needs to be asked – especially given that the coding is open source – why all organisations with significant and multiple information technology investments are not presenting their information in a similar way.

Data of itself on material investments is important.

The ability to easily understand that data and compare it to all other initiatives is vital.

The United States IT Investment Dashboard is an early entrant into a visualisation space that can only get more advanced – and useful.

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