Fed CIOs Try To End Duplicate IT Investments

DoD, DHS, and DoE have instituted new internal reviews and practices to help consolidate and modernize IT infrastructure, software, and other systems.
Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progress
Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progress
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Three federal CIOs told Congress they are working to reduce duplicative IT investments in their respective departments after their own reviews as well as one by the government’s watchdog agency found that they were wasting potentially more than $1 billion on the problem.

Department of Defense CIO Teri Takai, Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires, and Department of Energy CIO Michael Locatis told lawmakers at a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing last week they have created new IT governance committees and other processes that helping them eliminate overlapping IT systems. Transcripts of their testimony are posted online.

The moves are part of a broader IT reform strategy across all federal agencies to reduce wasteful spending as mandated by President Obama’s Campaign to Cut Waste and a 25-point IT reform plan instituted by former U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra.

The CIOs’ testimony followed the release of a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found that the DoD and DoE have duplicative IT systems that could cost the departments $1.2 billion and $8 million, respectively.

[ Are you optimistic that government IT is poised for a leaner, more efficient future? Read more at Agile Government: Elusive, But Not Impossible (Really). ]

Though the GAO did not find fault with the DHS, Spires told the House committee that the agency created a governance effort that broke down agency IT investments into "portfolios" that helped discover duplicative efforts in its human-resources and common operating picture systems, among others.

He defined the DHS’ use of portfolios as "logical partitions" to support the department’s various organizations missions and business outcomes.

Of the 31 business-related DoD IT investments the GAO identified as potentially duplicative, Takai told lawmakers her department already has taken action to address 27 of those--including contract management, personnel management and logistics. The department reviewed the other four and found that they were not duplicative, she added.

The DoD will make efforts to modernize IT and reduce the agency’s data-center footprint by closing more than 125 data centers; providing joint infrastructure by giving authorized users joint access to appropriate data; and improving enterprise user identity management to help reduce duplication in IT systems, Takai said.

At least one of the agencies--the DoE--is using the Office of Management and Budget’s TechStat review process help it identify and clean up duplicative investments. Federal IT officials have cited TechStat as one of the success stories of federal IT reform efforts, already helping agencies save millions of dollars.

Specifically, the DoE used TechStat to save $1 million after a review of its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's (EERE) State Grant Administration investment, Locatis told the subcommittee.

The agency also led three TechStat reviews last year on identity, credential and access management (ICAM), and Public Key Infrastructure, and commodity IT investments are in the process of being reformed by new policies and procedures as a result of those reviews, Locatis said.

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