the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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Cutting Costs in Financial Systems

As part of the Accountable Government Initiative, we recently launched a set of IT reform efforts and today we're seeing early fruits of those efforts.
As I’ve blogged about previously, the President is committed to changing how Washington does business. That’s why we launched the Accountable Government Initiative - to eliminate what doesn’t work, crack down on waste, and make government more open and responsive to the American people. Closing the technology gap that exists between the public and private sectors will be critical to achieving these goals.  Over the past 10 to 15 years, the government has significantly lagged behind the private sector in using information technology to cut costs and deliver better services. And when federal information technology projects are undertaken, they too often cost more than they should, take longer than necessary to deploy, and fail to deliver solutions that meet our business needs.
To address these problems, we recently launched a set of IT reform efforts as part of the Accountable Government Initiative. We focused on three key areas:  the federal government’s overall IT procurement and management practices, high-priority IT projects in need of additional attention, and financial system modernization projects – an area of persistent problems. In this final category, financial system modernization projects, we immediately froze all activity pending review and approval of more streamlined plans.
Today, we are seeing the fruits of that review.
Three agencies – the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Small Business Administration – just completed a review of their systems and are moving forward with plans to reset the scope of and improve their financial system projects, resulting in reduced costs and a greater focus on critical business needs.  Together with a recent decision from the Department of Veterans Affairs to cancel their own large-scale financial systems project in favor of more urgent agency priorities, the budgets for these projects have been reduced by a combined $750 million. 
Moreover, we are harnessing the power of IT to drive productivity gains and improve customer service across government agencies. 
These results are just the beginning.  Agencies are taking the lessons learned from the financial systems reform effort and applying them across their portfolio of IT projects, and we are using the best practices to inform our work on fundamental reform of IT procurement and management practices across all agencies.
These reforms are a great example of our Administration-wide efforts to take a hard look at what’s working and what isn’t – and make tough decisions about how to get the most out of taxpayer dollars. Changing the way government does business isn’t easy, but we’re excited about the improvements that these choices will yield, resulting in better services and lower costs for the American people.  I look forward to sharing continued progress with you in the weeks ahead.