Treasury tackles IT structure overhaul

The Treasury Department has begun to radically restructure how it manages information technology creating a flatter more flexible organization designed to encourage more collaboration among its 14 bureaus.

Jim Flyzik acting chief information officer at Treasury said the new structure would help the department comply with the mandates of the Clinger-Cohen Act which encourages agencies to avoid duplication in their IT investments. In addition Flyzik said the fresh management approach would help officials respond more quickly to changes in technology and user demands for new services. "I no longer believe it's possible to set up an organizational chart that's hierarchical - like it was in the past - that's valid for more than six months " Flyzik said.

Most agencies are revamping their IT management procedures in response to the Clinger-Cohen Act.

For example the law's emphasis on having top agency executives make technology investment decisions has led some agencies to create new planning teams that include budget and program officials.

"I think Jim is on to something " said Renato DiPentima the CIO at SRA International Inc. who has advised the government on how top IT managers should operate. "Not focusing on contracts but focusing on customers parallels what we are doing in private industry " DiPentima said. Other agencies are likely to make similar changes.

Pending Approval

Under Clinger-Cohen the Office of Management and Budget must approve the Treasury plan and that is unlikely to occur until the department selects a permanent CIO. Flyzik is a candidate for the job which became vacant in January.

Meanwhile the reorganization is moving forward. An early result is likely to be the consolidation of six voice and data communications programs under a new Corporate Systems Management Office. Within that office managers will focus on different service areas such as planning development and delivery rather than on specific contracts for wireless voice messaging or the Internet.

The department is also creating an IT Policy and Management Office which will be in charge of strategic planning oversight and review of Treasury systems as demanded by Clinger-Cohen. IT projects of the various bureaus would be overseen by bureau "investment review boards " while a review board would monitor Treasurywide projects.

One role of this Treasury Investment Review Board - composed of IT managers budget officials and program managers - will be to select systems used by individual bureaus that could be adopted throughout Treasury.

Flyzik said tighter budgets "are forcing us to work a lot closer than we have in the past." For instance a team is coordinating Treasury efforts to update the date fields in bureau computer systems for the Year 2000 he said. "There's potential for sharing test facilities sharing test sites and contractor help support " he said.

Treasury will take two to three months to complete the paperwork needed to create job descriptions for the new positions and to appoint managers to those slots.

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