White House preparing agency IT project hit list

Administration wants tighter reins on $20 billion in IT infrastructure spending for fiscal 2012

The White House plans to publish a list of high-risk information technology projects as part of the Obama administration's effort to rein in $20 billion of annual IT infrastructure spending, according to Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra.

The high-risk IT project list will include projects that are over budget and behind schedule, as well as those that have veered off course from their initial requirements, Kundra said at the NASA IT Summit conference in National Harbor, Md.

The White House’s goal is to turn around those troubled projects in the fiscal 2012 budget process, he said. Agency requests for the fiscal 2012 budget year are currently being assembled, and President Barack Obama is scheduled to present the request to Congress in February 2011.


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Kundra cited a proliferation of federal data centers, struggling financial system projects and shortcomings in system architectures as examples of current IT infrastructure problems. At the Interior Department, for instance, it is impossible to send an e-mail message systemwide to all employees because the IT systems are segregated, he added.

Kundra said he is speaking with chief information officers at each department to weed out failing programs and cancel them. At the Veterans Affairs Department, the financial management system development program was cancelled in 2004 and again in 2010 for failure to deliver results, despite a $250 million development cost. At the Defense Department, officials spent $1 billion during 12 years on the Integrated Human Resource System, which has not performed, he added.

“How do we move from a history of colossal failure with IT systems to making IT stellar? That is exactly what we need to do,” Kundra said.

Kundra praised NASA’s Nebula platform for cloud computing as “an innovative path” that will help drive spending away from “commodity IT” and toward new solutions.

“We are taking IT to the next level,” Kundra said. “We’ll take the best practices of NASA and scale them governmentwide.”

As another example of a new solution, Kundra said the Internal Revenue Service and Education Department recently began sharing data from student financial aid applications. By coordinating data, the applications have been simplified and made “customer friendly,” he said.

 

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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