HUD turns up the HEAT for IT transformation

Rafael Diaz, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's chief information officer, said he canceled the old approach to improve the agency's technology i...

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is trading HUDNet for HEAT as the basis for its IT transformation plan.

Over the next few years, HUD is updating its technology networks and tools through a new concept and approach based on giving employees access to data and apps anywhere and at any time, said Rafael Diaz, HUD’s chief information officer.

“HUDNet is dead,” Diaz said. “Now it’s known as HEAT — HUD Enterprise and Architecture Transformation. We are talking about how we are transforming the enterprise and architecture so we have a reusable, understandable, efficient and effective architecture. That’s the foundation because everything will be built upon that. We are looking at our workforce strategy. Based on this new transformation, how are we transforming our workforce? What are the skillsets we need? What are the gaps in our current workforce and how do we fill those gaps? We are looking at a mobility and wireless strategy.”

Diaz, who joined HUD in June after spending most of his career in the private sector or with state and local government, spent the first few months learning about the agency, its mission and its challenges.

“I came in at the perfect time because we were formulating the fiscal 2016 budget. Being the CIO, we manage a large IT budget across the agency so we have, I believe, 16 segments that we’ve broken down all the investments into and every segment leader that works in the program office comes to the Office of the CIO and briefs on what they plan on doing and what are their IT spends for the year,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to learn what they are doing. That one- month period was very formative for me.”

During those discussions, Diaz realized the HUDNet approach wasn’t going to work and ended up canceling the first contract under the plan, called AM2. HUD awarded AM2 for technical management support, program management support and tactical planning to support the management of its IT operations environment and associated service delivery contracts.

HUD developed the approach under HUDNet in 2011 as a way to move off of the HITS contract, which Lockheed Martin and Hewlett-Packard run under a $1 billion managed services contract. But it was obvious that HUDNet wasn’t going to work, forcing HUD to extend the HITS program in February for three years while it implements a new IT transformation approach.

“It will be transitioned to HEAT,” Diaz said of the HITS program. “The transition will occur over the next three years. We’re working very closely with our HITS contractors and our new contractors to ensure it’s a smooth transition. We believe this HEAT transition will give us greater capabilities and greater flexibility in how we provide services.”

Diaz said HUD is working closely with the General Services Administration and other shared services providers who provide commodity IT services to see where they can take advantage of those services or contracts.

Diaz said HEAT includes data center, cloud capabilities, mobility and wireless, end user support and more effective device capabilities and provisioning.

“It’s everything we have, but better, faster and cheaper,” he said. “We’re looking at our workforce now as we are moving into HEAT to determine how much of those services do we want in house and how much of those services do we want to engage services in for those capabilities.”

Diaz said HEAT is just getting started and it will take two to four years until HUD fully implements it.

In the meantime, Diaz said he’s trying to improve the skillsets of its employees and hire new IT professionals, to move the agency toward a more mobile computing environment and to ensure field offices have the technology they need to meet HUDs’ mission.

“HEAT is the foundation. Everything ties back to HEAT. If we don’t make HEAT work, none of this will work. It’s the impetus for all of this making it happen,” Diaz said. “We are looking at what are those applications are cloud ready. That assessment we are looking at now as part of HEAT, will say these are the applications that we can start to migrate to mobile device capabilities. We are working with the program areas to assess those applications, define them and then put together a roadmap on which ones we want to move forward on.”


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