Brese leaves Energy in a better position to consolidate, centralize IT

By Sept. 30, the Energy Department will have a roadmap to show how it will consolidate and centralize many of its technology functions.

For Bob Brese and his staff in the department’s chief information officer’s office, getting to the point of creating that strategy has been more than a two- year journey.

But now that the plan almost is ready for Secretary Ernest Moniz to sign-off on, Brese said it was the perfect time for him to step down.

Energy Department CIO Bob Brese (File photo)
Brese’s last day as Energy’s CIO is Sept. 5. Deputy CIO Don Adcock will be acting CIO in the interim.

“We did a big study on our federal IT service delivery. We’ve got a good path forward to finally achieve our long-term goals in consolidation, cost savings and effectiveness improvements. We’ve got strong new governance in place. We’ve got good support from the secretary, the deputy secretary and the undersecretaries, and every time you knock one of those things off it’s really rewarding,” Brese said in an exit interview with Federal News Radio.

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The big study looked at several potential consolidation opportunities across Energy. Brese said the goal was to figure out how best to meet mission at the lowest costs, and move out of a federated IT environment.

“There’s been several fits and starts on this, and in talking with Secretary Moniz when he came on board, we went through a big study on human resources service delivery, and then we kicked one off on IT service delivery,” he said. “What we found over the course of five months as we disaggregated every service that we provide down into the dollars, into the quality of service is we really looked at three things: How much does all of this cost? How satisfied are the end users and the customers of these services? And three is what’s the maturity of all of these organizations which are delivering IT services and who’s positioned to do it best from an effectiveness, efficiency and security perspective?”

Brese said the study showed Energy’s IT spending is out of balance in the sense that it’s spending more on people than on technology.

“One of the efforts needs to be how do we make better leverage of the actual technology and reduce our reliance on people,” he said. “The other is we found a lot of our services scored really, really well from a customer service perspective. But then we had some that performed pretty poorly and people were not happy with. So there are some lessons learned there about how do you trade off cost versus quality of customer service. The third major finding is none of the organization delivering IT today are capable of immediately assuming ownership and control of all the services and being able to deliver that back effectively and efficiently.”

The forthcoming strategy covers more than 25 recommendations that came from the study and will be turned into project plans for how Energy will consolidate centralized or, at the very least, enhanced federation of IT services.

Brese said Energy is detailing both short-term and long-term goals.

He said among the short-term goals is bringing the wide-area network, email land video and audio conferencing under the management of a single office at Energy instead of each national lab or office running its own network and services.

“On email, it may turn out to be getting all of our Active Directories federated so we can actually find each other, and then maybe it’s a longer term thing to deliver email single integrated environment,” he said. “That’s what you kind of see at Defense as well. There has been a number of efforts there to strengthen the federation and then move to a single integrated email environment.”

Brese said getting Energy to this point of having a solid network improvement plan that is supported by a governance structure made sense for him to leave government.

He said he felt he would have to commit to staying at least another two years to see some of these short terms goals through to completion.

“Energy has one of coolest missions in government, and not to deride my colleagues from around government, but I wouldn’t trade my job for theirs in a second,” he said.

Brese still wouldn’t say what comes next for him. He said he’d remain in the federal community working to improve government IT from the private sector side. He begins his new job on Sept. 9.

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