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White House Scraps, Overhauls IT Projects

Changes to Department of Justice and Interior plans show Office of Management and Budget isn't going to be shy about canceling or reforming IT projects.

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An Obama administration review of more than two dozen high-risk federal IT projects that began in August has begun to bear fruit, as federal CIO Vivek Kundra announced on Monday the cancellation of a behind-schedule, over-budget Department of Justice system and the overhaul of a Department of Interior project.

The moves, which Kundra announced at a regular meeting of the federal CIO Council (a government-operated, consultative body of federal CIOs), add to mounting evidence that, as part of ongoing IT project management reform efforts, the Office of Management and Budget isn't going to be shy about scrapping or reforming IT projects that are no longer working.

"For too long we have witnessed runaway projects that waste billions of dollars and are years behind schedule," Kundra told the CIO Council Monday morning, according to a transcript of his prepared remarks. "We cannot afford to carry on as we have for decades, sitting idly while IT investments fail and waste billions of dollars. We must act now and relentlessly execute with an unwavering focus on results."

The first of the two projects in question, the Department of Justice's Litigation Case Management System (LCMS), would have replaced the agency's seven existing case management systems with a common platform that would have made it easier to share case-related information across the agency and with other related systems, such as the FBI's Sentinel case management system.

However, LCMS was four years behind schedule and had ballooned to $257 million in expected costs, more than double the originally expected budget of $128 million. On a rating scale of zero to 10, with 10 representing the best performing projects, the federal IT Dashboard rates the Litigation Case Management System a 2.5.

With those metrics in mind, the agency halted work on the program in June pending a program review, which led to Monday's announcement that the project would be scrapped. Justice will now make more targeted investments that will still make the disparate systems interoperable, though it won't result in one enterprise case management system.

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