DHS cancels financial system modernization, considers cloud instead

Alternatives also could include component systems and non-integrated system

The Homeland Security Department has canceled its Transformation and Systems Consolidation (TASC) program to modernize and integrate its financial systems, and now is said to be considering other solutions that include a cloud-based system, component-by-component development and non-integrated solutions.

Chris Ortman, a spokesman for DHS, confirmed the TASC cancellation in a May 16 e-mail message to Federal Computer Week. The $450 million TASC program had been under reevaluation ever since the Government Accountability Office upheld a protest against a large TASC contract in March.

“The Department of Homeland Security is canceling the solicitation for its financial, asset and acquisition management systems, collectively referred to as the Transformation and Systems Consolidation program or the TASC program,” Ortman wrote. “Based upon a review and reevaluation of the solicitation, DHS is considering alternatives to meet revised requirements. The modernization of the department’s financial, acquisition and asset systems remains a key priority for DHS," he added.

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An executive source in DHS offered more details on what those choices might include and how requirements for a prospective new solicitation have changed. The details were presented in a written statement issued as a background briefing.

Because of the recent Office of Management and Budget guidance on cloud-first strategies, DHS is now considering a cloud solution for its financial systems modernization, the statement said.

“Housing the system solution in the DHS enterprise data center is no longer a requirement,” the statement said. “When evaluating options for new IT deployments, OMB requires cloud-based and service provider solutions be evaluated first and used whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective option exists. With advances in IT security, DHS security architecture now expressly supports external services as an extension of the trusted internal environment. Thus, a cloud-based or shared services solution could meet the Department’s needs.”

Furthermore, as DHS has reviewed its requirements for TASC, the department has decided it no longer seeks an enterprisewide or departmentwide solution to be implemented through a single acquisition over five to ten years, the statement said.

As a result, DHS will focus on improving financial management solutions for its agencies in most critical need of them, which are the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Coast Guard and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the statement added.

The DHS source also said requirements for an integrated solution have changed.

“The Department has determined that an already integrated finance, acquisition and asset management solution is no longer an absolute requirement. The original solicitation stated that the financial, acquisition, and asset management enterprise solution must be provided as an integrated solution that is currently operational in the federal government.There is a critical need for a core financial system; therefore, DHS will consider strategies that offer a core financial system and alternative means to integrate the remaining management systems for acquisition and asset, over time if necessary,” the statement said.

At a recent congressional hearing with Acting DHS CFO Peggy Sherry, witnesses explained some of the problems regarding the TASC cancellation. TASC was the department's second failed attempt to modernize its financial infrastructure, following the unsuccessful eMerge2 program.

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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