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HUD Constructs IT Transformation

Department of Housing and Urban Development CIO Jerry Williams discusses how IT is moving from overlooked to a central player in the agency's work.

When Jerry Williams became CIO at the Department of Housing and Urban Development last July, he stepped right into a major transformation initiative at the agency, presenting him with both an opportunity to dramatically influence the future of information technology at the agency, and the challenge of how to do so effectively.

In his first months, he's focused heavily on organization and governance as a prelude to system upgrades and some other changes HUD will need to make to take full advantage of many of Williams' (and the agency's) ultimate goals. In a recent interview, Williams spoke with InformationWeek Government about his efforts to strengthen HUD's IT efforts.

InformationWeek: What opportunities do you see for IT to bring to bear on HUD's future as part of HUD's transformation initiative?

Williams: The initiatives are mostly about mission-related activities, and IT helps facilitate mission-related prerogatives that we have, but it's not in and of itself about IT.

IT will help inform this process by creating greater structure and rigor to the way in which we deploy mission-related applications and systems. We're a very siloed organization, and we need to create integrations between business stovepipes that exist within HUD and situate ourselves to apply analytics and business intelligence to support, across the department, decisions we make. That would be a huge win for the department and for IT.

IW: Talk a bit more about how you plan to improve integration and consolidate.

Williams: Like many organizations, we long built up applications and systems intended to assist in a particular business area. We're revamping our IT governance process to make corporate decisions to diminish the duplication in IT.

For example, today, there's a voucher management capability in our housing group, another in [the Office of Public and Indian Housing], and one in our community planning development group. Rather than building it three times, let's build it once and then overlay it with business intelligence that would allow us to inform future business decisions.

Another thing might be to look at performance. When you dissolve siloes, you can begin to look at well-performing programs vis-à-vis poor-performing programs and make determinations about where you're getting the bigger bang for the buck or better performance and shift your resources accordingly.

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