Editor's Note

Stat overflow?

man graphs performance

Screening IT projects at the start could be a boon -- but it's got to be done right.

First there was TechStat. Agency leaders grumbled, but some troubled projects did get attention. Then came PortfolioStat. The grumbling didn't stop, but the Government Accountability Office says the process could produce $5.8 billion in savings, so investment portfolio reviews are here to stay.

And now there's Pre-Stat -- or there will be once the Office of Management and Budget figures out how major IT projects should be prescreened to maximize the chances for success. We'll see how agencies react to yet another oversight and review effort.

Obama administration officials have been talking for some time about ways to identify troubled projects earlier in the process, and the outlines of Pre-Stat were sketched at a May 8 Senate hearing. The core concepts are clear and the goal unimpeachable: Who wouldn't want to ensure that big IT projects are planned right and launched with the best possible support and resources?

And there's not even much debate over the metrics. ACT-IAC has suggested a solid framework that rightly focuses on the risks that must be managed "up and out" as well as the more obvious challenges that demand "across and down" attention. Recent articles in FCW have outlined similar principles -- see, for example, "Program Management: The People Factor" -- and other experts in industry and government can offer checklists and best practices.

Ultimately, the key will be how the process is implemented. Will it be a collaborative effort in which OMB and agencies work together to tune and improve critical projects? Or will it be a top-down, adversarial sort of oversight that feels like a pre-inquisition?

TechStat reviews have their shortcomings, but that initiative's biggest stumbling block was the way it was introduced. It might have been intended as a tool to help agencies, but many executives perceived it as another audit imposed on them.

The early signs suggest that Pre-Stat will strike a better balance between support and oversight. We're hoping -- and watching.

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN. Connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.


The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above