HRSA’s building renovation gives IT push toward improvements

Cathy Flickinger, the chief information officer for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration, can check off many of the Obama administration’s top technology priorities.

Moving to the cloud: HRSA has put its external websites and applications services in a hybrid cloud.

Shared services: HRSA signed up with the National Institutes of Health for email and other services years ago.

Telework: More than 50 percent of employees already telework and she is setting up the agency’s virtual private network to require the use of secure identity cards under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 to log on—which by the way is another Office of Management and Budget mandate.

Continuous monitoring of its network: HRSA runs a security operations center that provides 24/7 incident response and incident detection services.

It’s not quite real time monitoring, but it’s getting there.

Some may say Flickinger could relax and enjoy the fruits of her labor.

But the HRSA CIO, who has spent more than 40 years with HHS, of which more than 13 years as the technology director, faces a challenge most senior executives never have to deal with: keeping the IT humming during a major building renovation.

“For the next three years, we will be renovating our building in Maryland,” she said. “The building will be beautiful when it’s done, but it poses huge challenges for IT operations in the meantime.”

Flickinger said the impending renovation was one reason HRSA moved many of its mission critical websites to the cloud.

It’s also why she is implementing hotelling as part of an effort to increase telework opportunities for HRSA staff.

“We are rolling out laptop docking stations that are 4G capable for all users,” Flickinger said. “It also will cut down on the number of IT devices we support.” HRSA has been testing the VPN and plans on expanding its use in March.

The VPN also will help HRSA employees use the cloud services under development.

Flickinger said the agency will deliver emergency notification services for continuity of operations and expand access to critical grant systems.

The agency also is using collaboration tools in the cloud, which Flickinger said has saved the agency $500,000 in the last year alone.

HRSA also awarded two contracts to SAIC to support their data warehouse and their grant performance system.

Flickinger said she expects the contracts to help improve both systems over the next few years.

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