GAO Report Finds Shortcomings in FDA's IT Modernization Efforts

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Although FDA is updating its IT systems, the agency might need more management tools to successfully complete the modernization, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office, Federal Computer Week reports (Lipowicz, Federal Computer Week, 4/17).

About FDA's IT Investments

Since 2002, FDA has spent more than $280 million on an IT project -- called the Mission Accomplishments and Regulatory Compliance Services, or MARCS, program -- aimed at enhancing FDA's IT applications and improving employee access to data.

In 2005, FDA suspended development on the MARCS program, partially to redirect resources toward a data center modernization project, according to the GAO report. The report added that FDA has revised its MARCS budget four times since 2006 to account for additional legacy systems in need of replacement. The program initially called for replacing two legacy systems and later added six more legacy systems to its modernization efforts.

Shortcomings in Modernizing IT Systems

As of February, none of the eight total legacy systems included in the MARCS program had been replaced, the GAO report found.

In addition, only eight out of nearly 30 service components that MARCS sought to implement had reached the implementation or maintenance phases as of February, the report noted. GAO added that FDA has not yet begun work on 12 of the service components (Lapin, NextGov, 4/17).

GAO's Recommendations

In the report, GAO recommended that FDA:

  • Create a comprehensive inventory of its IT systems;
  • Develop an integrated master schedule for updating or replacing legacy systems; and
  • Determine other IT needs.

Federal Response

Officials from HHS -- which oversees FDA -- reviewed the report and said they did not agree nor disagree with GAO's findings and recommendations, the report noted (Federal Computer Week, 4/17).

In comments submitted to GAO, HHS officials said that FDA has taken steps to address many of the issues in the report (NextGov, 4/17).


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