Letters to the Editor
Uncomfortable With Seat Story
Your story "What's up with Seat?" [FCW, July 24] gives the wrong impression
that the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of the Inspector
General is having problems with its implementation of seat management.
The story uses sensational quotes taken out of context from a wide-ranging
interview that took place about three months ago to paint an incorrect picture
of our experience as well as our relationship with our contractor, DynCorp.
More regrettable, the story fails to understand the enormity of the
task that the HUD OIG has taken on.
In 24 months, the HUD OIG has gone from a standing start and "Jurassic
technology" to its own secure system and support structure, featuring the
zenith of auditing and investigative software that will set a new standard
for the inspector general community. Three steps have been required to implement
n Site preparation (which was accomplished by Signal Corp. with the
General Services Administration).
n Seat management (which is being accomplished by DynCorp).
n A new auditing and investigative software (which is being accomplished
by Paisley Consulting).
In the story, HUD OIG is portrayed as not having addressed requirements
until November 1999 and not being involved with the design of the system
that DynCorp is implementing. In fact, three months were devoted to gathering
requirements so that we could choose functional specifications in the seat
management task order based on our business rather than trying to dictate
equipment specifications based on the latest technology.
The reason implementation was suspended in October 1999 was that it
had become apparent that our schedule was overly aggressive in assuming
that the three parts to our implementation could occur simultaneously.
During this brief hiatus 10 months ago, HUD OIG had time to reassess
our ag-gressive implementation schedule. HUD OIG also was able to complete
the staffing of our new information technology organization.
The new approach added time for testing and communication with our employees.
HUD OIG staff had a natural skepticism as you would expect from auditors
and investigators about the prospects for a successful implementation
of a new system featuring radical new auditing/investigative software. Essential
for us was making sure that everything worked the first time and that we
had built confidence internally.
As proof of our success, just this month DynCorp has begun to roll out
seat management. Implementation is complete for the entire district of
New York and New Jersey with little disruption.
Director OIG Information Systems
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Your article ["Lack of embassy e-mail 'laughable,'" FCW.com, July 20]
paints an unnecessarily grim picture of the state of information technology
at our diplomatic missions overseas. The picture is not perfect, but not
nearly as dire as the article would have readers believe, and efforts are
under way to improve interagency collaboration and communication.
The State Department recently completed an aggressive modernization
effort to upgrade the unclassified IT infrastructure at all of our diplomatic
missions overseas. In 1997, State's IT infrastructure included some 250
obsolete minicomputers, which suffered frequent breakdowns, were expensive
to maintain and did not provide employee access to the Internet, robust
e-mail or other powerful, Information Age IT services.
During the past three years, State has transitioned to a state-of-the-art
PC-based infrastructure that provides a full range of reliable and modern
IT capabilities. This new system A Logical Modernization Approach (ALMA) is an unclassified intranet that allows Internet e-mail capability. Today,
every State employee has access to a PC with Internet e-mail capability,
and every embassy has Internet e-mail capability. But this is only the first
step in improving our IT capability.
State is leading the inter-agency effort to develop and implement an
interoperable IT infrastructure and a knowledge management system to enable
all U.S. government agencies resident in our diplomatic missions overseas
to share data, provide rapid, secure e-mail and work collaboratively to
achieve foreign policy objectives. With congressional support and timely
and adequate funding, we will pilot the new infrastructure and systems at
our diplomatic missions in Mexico and India during 2001.
Chief Information Officer