Following Review, VA Restarts Some IT Projects - InformationWeek
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10/8/2009
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Following Review, VA Restarts Some IT Projects

CIO Roger Baker credits a new project management accountability system with facilitating decision making at the federal agency.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has restarted a number of IT projects that were temporarily halted this year after falling far behind schedule or over budget.

"We have very good metrics on the stopped projects, and many of them have restarted based on reformulated plans," Roger Baker, the VA's assistant secretary for IT and CIO, said in a speech in Fairfax, Va.

The VA announced in July that Baker and new VA secretary Eric Shinseki had paused 45 IT projects that were more than a year behind schedule or more than 50% over budget, putting them on hold pending review.

Baker said some projects were restarted relatively quickly, while others didn't get back up and running until recently. He didn't discuss the status of specific projects, but said more details would be forthcoming on which programs have restarted and why.

Baker credited a new metrics-driven project management effort, the Project Management Accountability System, for helping with decision making. The system has driven tough meetings between Baker and his project managers and between project managers and the agency's technology vendors. Some contracts have been more difficult to stop than others, he said.

Rigorous prioritization and vigilant watch over metrics should help keep restarted projects on track, he said. Being "completely inflexible" on milestones will force the VA and its contractors to make difficult decisions, he added.

InformationWeek Analytics has published a guide to the Open Government Directive and what it means for federal CIOs. Download the report here (registration required).

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