Interior kills ALMRS

After spending more than $400 million, the Bureau of Land Management has killed a longrunning modernization program because of ongoing problems, delays and a fastapproaching deadline for resolving its Year 2000 computer problem. Interior Department officials decided in January to allow the Automa

After spending more than $400 million, the Bureau of Land Management has killed a long-running modernization program because of ongoing problems, delays and a fast-approaching deadline for resolving its Year 2000 computer problem.

Interior Department officials decided in January to allow the Automated Land and Mineral Record System contract with prime contractor Computer Sciences Corp. to expire. ALMRS was intended to replace paper-based processes and aging agency systems running on mainframes that are not Year 2000-compliant.

When BLM awarded the potential 10-year, $400 million ALMRS contract in 1993, the system was expected to replace its cumbersome paper-based process and provide detailed electronic information to manage the federal government's 260 million acres of land nationwide and the mineral resources on another 300 million acres the agency manages and leases to private-sector enterprises. Ultimately, the system would have let BLM case workers at almost 200 offices view text-based documents alongside electronic maps on their screens. The new system would have speeded up such processes as tracking oil, gas and mineral leases and lease applications as well as timber and land sales. ALMRS would have replaced many decaying and fading paper documents, some of which date back to the 1700s.

But BLM's progress on ALMRS, created in the pre-procurement reform era of government-specific requirements, was slower and more costly than expected. During its 15 years of development, ALMRS' cost increased hundreds of millions of dollars over its original estimate of $240 million. Moreover, technology planned and developed especially for ALMRS when the project began in 1983 was overtaken by more advanced and less costly commercial off-the-shelf products.

ALMRS also had many failures. When BLM tested the initial operating capability in October 1998, users reported several problems. For example, the system was too complex and actually impeded productivity. In one case, a worker spent an hour

processing a $10 transaction that should have taken only about 10 minutes, Joel Willemssen, the General Accounting Office's director for civil agencies information systems, told the House Appropriations Committee's Interior Subcommittee last month. Willemssen said the agency spent more than 15 years and $411 million developing the system, "only to have the major software component - known as the ALMRS Initial Operating Capability - fail."

"ALMRS didn't have the functionality that users were looking for," David Gill, GAO's assistant director for civil agencies information systems, told FCW last week. "I think that what happened here is that the requirements may have gone stale over time.... They were using a technology that really has been eclipsed by the windows technology of today."

"We concluded that as a result of that test, the system as it was then did not support our business needs sufficiently enough to deploy it," said Gayle Gordon, assistant director for information resources management at BLM. "We were developing a typical grand-design system using the old technologies."

Leslie Cone, program manager for BLM's National Integrated Land System (NILS) project, said the agency tried "to implement too much all at one time and do everything rather than a modular approach. We've moved away from trying to do things like build custom code. Now we're trying to leverage COTS."

A CSC spokesman last week said, "It's unfortunate that the Department of the Interior's BLM has allowed the ALMRS contract to expire. The bottom line is that we would have liked to have continued working with them."

In the wake of the decision to let the contract expire, CSC last month closed the ALMRS development operation in Golden, Colo., and BLM moved its key legacy software applications residing on its mainframes to a more modern networked computer environment called Legacy Rehost 2000 (LR 2000). This month - the sixth anniversary of the ALMRS award to CSC - BLM officials are tying up loose ends on the program and are focusing their attention on LR 2000, which became operational for some BLM offices last week.

Cone said the move to LR 2000 solves the agency's Year 2000 problem but still does not create the functionality that had been envisioned under ALMRS. "LR 2000 now becomes the legacy system," she said. "[The applications] are just on a new platform, which still doesn't give BLM what it wants.

"What we're trying to do now is do things modular," Cone said. "BLM is looking at all our land and resource information systems to see what we can do."

For example, the agency is developing the NILS project in partnership with the Forest Service, Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. and some counties. NILS will create electronic mapping applications that may one day be combined with other applications to build in a modular fashion a comprehensive system like the one that had been envisioned under the ALMRS contract.

Some Interior IT employees said agency officials should have seen the problems that would come with the ALMRS proj-ect. "By the time they got to deployment, they discovered things that, as far as I'm concerned, they should have known five years ago," an Interior employee familiar with the project said.

Members of Congress and BLM officials are trying to find some benefits from spending the hundreds of millions of dollars on ALMRS. "This is the kind of thing that, granted, the water is over the dam, but we have got to learn from the mistakes of the past," said Rep. Jim Moran (R-Va.). "No question that this was a mistake to spend this much money as was spent, but it was not a mistake conceptually to try to automate the information that BLM executives need at their fingertips."

Gordon said money spent on ALMRS did not all go to waste, even though a final successful ALMRS software product did not emerge. She said money spent on the ALMRS project over the years has given the agency an information infrastructure that it can use for current and future information projects. "It's given us a foundation," she said. According to a General Accounting Office survey, about $67.5 million of the money was spent on developing the failed ALMRS software.

Cone said ALMRS provided computer training to BLM employees. "BLM now has a computer-literate work force, which we didn't in the past," she said. "We have a telecommunications network that we didn't have."

She added that ALMRS also helped BLM document its business rules and transform much of its paper-based data into electronic form.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.