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Chicago IT Audit Claims Inconsistent Oversight That's Costly to City

City auditors reviewed Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) projects in 2016 and 2017 costing at least $250,000. The audit, published Thursday, stated that DoIT processes may have raised costs and delayed projects.

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An audit into the Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) found that an inconsistent adherence to best practices in project selection and follow-through may have caused several IT projects to go overbudget. 

Auditors with the Office of the Inspector General compared documentation of DoIT’s processes and project outcomes to standardized best practices from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“Effective management of an IT portfolio requires consistent and repeatable organizational processes,” auditors wrote. “While certain projects may succeed without consistent enterprise-wide management, such successes are more often attributable to exceptional individual efforts, rather than effective, efficient, and repeatable institutional processes.”

Natalie Kuriata, spokeswoman for the Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG), said there wasn’t a single impetus for the look into DoIT.

The report evaluated DoIT’s methodology for selecting, monitoring and evaluating IT projects that cost at least $250,000 that were either initiated or completed in 2016 and 2017.

The audit highlights an IT loss of $4.2 million on an “unsuccessful effort to implement” the Hyperion Budget System, a vendor software solution launched in 2017. The Office of Budget and Management (OBM) deemed this year that the software would result in an incomplete, inaccurate or unbalanced budget. OBM discovered during implementation that the software "did not live up to expectations." The city will continue to use its legacy budget application, which is no longer supported and has limited reporting functionality. 

Auditors suggested that strict compliance with a selection process could have avoided or mitigated the loss incurred by the city.

DoIT agreed with all recommendations in the report, citing the reformation of the IT Governance Board (ITGB), which includes staff from the Mayor’s Office, OBM, DoIT and the departments of Finance and Procurement Services, as a preventive measure going forward.

“The ITGB also monitors project health and outcomes on a monthly basis, providing oversight and having the ability to cancel projects that are not meeting established objective in the Cancellation Process …” DoIT’s response reads in the report.

The audit also found that five of the six projects examined by OIG took longer to implement than originally scheduled. The report recommended ITGB meet at least once per quarter to provide adequate oversight.

DoIT responded with a statement detailing the duties of the ITGB, which includes monthly meetings since March 2019 to meet the high demand of project requests.

DoIT was not available for comment Thursday.

Patrick Groves was a staff writer for Government Technology from 2019 to 2020.
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