The long-rumored scathing report on the General Services Administration’s 18F organization didn’t materialize as some hoped. But what auditors did find is an office that is acting like a private sector startup by spending money it doesn’t have and hiring at a rate that is only seen from emerging tech companies.
The agency’s inspector general also found 18F chose not to listen to advice of GSA’s chief financial officer and the commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service about following the law to pay back its initial funding, and did so with a smug attitude that many in and out of government have said is emblematic of the digital services movement across government.
“18F’s cumulative net loss from its launch in fiscal 2014 through the third quarter of fiscal 2016 is $31.66 million. We found that 18F’s plan to achieve full cost recovery has been unsuccessful because of inaccurate financial projections, increased staffing levels and the amount of staff time spent on non-billable activities,” the IG stated in its report issued Oct. 24. “18F managers have repeatedly overestimated revenue and, with the support of the administrator’s office, hired more staff than revenue could support. In addition, 18F staff spent over half of their time on non-billable projects. 18F managers have recently revised their projected breakeven date from 2019 to 2020.”
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