OMB course corrects 16 IT projects

The administration said its review of 16 of the 26 high-risk technology programs led to one termination, eight programs are scaled back and seven projects have ...

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The Homeland Security Department’s insurance claims processing system is joining a growing number of technology programs that no longer make sense to continue and are being terminated.

DHS spent $40 million over the last seven years and now realizes the requirements are too complex and the system wasn’t worth saving.

The program was the only one of 16 high-risk program reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget not to continue. But OMB and agencies, through the TechStat sessions, are showing that they are not hesitating on making major changes when projects are not meeting expectations.

“We’ve proven we can improve IT performance on a project-by-project basis,” said Jeff Zients, OMB’s deputy director for management and chief performance officer. “We are using what we are learning to achieve structure changes in how we manage IT programs.”

OMB announced in June it would review 26 high-risk projects and determine whether they can be fixed or should be ended.

Zients and Vivek Kundra, the federal chief information officer, announced the results of their review Wednesday during a press conference. The review comes as OMB is scheduled to announce major IT reforms across the board, applying lessons learned from these and other reviews across the government.

Of the 16 project reviewed this round, Zients said seven will accelerate the time it takes to deliver functionality and eight are scaled back to increase the likelihood of success and reduce the cost of the project.

“We’ve reduced the budget by $1.3 billion in lifecycle costs of these 16 projects and cut the time for functionality in half from on average two years to eight months,” Zients said.

He added that OMB will finish reviewing the other eight projects by February. It already reviewed two others in October.

Over the last year, OMB has led the review of more than 50 troubled IT projects and reduced the lifecycle budget of all these projects by more than $3 billion and hastened the delivery of new capabilities.

Along with terminating the DHS program, Kundra offered insight into some of the other programs that were significantly changed.

He said the Interior Department will reduce its infrastructure automation program by $500 million over the life of the program, consolidating 210 data centers down to 115 and move services to the cloud to save $36 million in operations costs.

The National Archives and Records Administration reduced its budget for the Electronic Records Archive system by $250 million and increase the time it takes to add new functionality to every few quarters.

“All the agencies will be leveraging the ERA system by the end of next year,” Kundra said. “NARA will increase the usage of system from 80 terabytes now to 122 terabytes in the coming months.”

Finally, the Agriculture Department spent four years and $94 million developing a new supply chain management system, but didn’t have anything for its citizen customers to use. Kundra said USDA has revamped the system and now 7,000 users were online last month and more capabilities are on the way.

OMB did not offer any further insight into the other 12 projects it reviewed in terms of spending reductions or changes in scope.

Kundra said OMB’s actions are getting favorable reactions on Capitol Hill and from agency CIOs.

“The appropriators, especially in the case of NARA, are very supportive,” he said. “We are making sure money spent on these projects are delivering capabilities. Given the complexity of IT systems, CIOs are very supportive, as is the President’s Management Council. From the appropriators to the authorizers, we are getting support because we are committing to real reform by driving down costs and because we are putting meaningful functionality forward and not just a strategy or a plan.”

The 16 projects reviewed include:

  • Agriculture–Web-based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM)
  • Commerce– BIS ECASS2000
  • Commerce–USPTO Patent File Wrapper (PFW) Program
  • DHS–NFIP Technology Systems and Services
  • DHS– Homeland Security Information Network
  • DHS–Automated Commercial Environment / International Trade Data System
  • GSA–Federal Supply Service 19
  • HUD–HUD Transformation Initiatives
  • Interior–Consolidated Infrastructure Automation Telecomm
  • DoJ–FBI Next Generation Identification
  • DoJ–FBI Sentinel
  • NARA– Electronic Records Archives (ERA) Program
  • SSA–Citizen Access Routing Enterprise 2020 (CARE 2020)
  • Treasury–IT Infrastructure Telecommunications
  • VA–Benefits 21st Century Paperless Delivery of Veterans Benefits
  • VA–Medical 21st Century HealtheVet Pharmacy

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