Interior hopes to save $500 million through IT transformation

The Interior Department expects to save up to $500 million by 2020 by leveraging modern technology, according to the IT Transformation Strategic Plan released by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on July 7.

The strategic plan is a high-level roadmap to transform the Interior’s IT operations for the 21st century, using advances in technology to provide better service for less. IT managers in Interior’s bureaus and offices are working with the Office of the CIO to transform the department’s $1 billion IT operation.

The plan identifies an initial set of high priority IT services as part of the transformation process, including a single e-mail system for the department, telecommunications, account management, hosting services, workplace computing services, risk management, and an enterprise service desk.

“Through this plan, we are making smart changes to IT services across the Department that will make our IT more cost-effective and customer-friendly while saving taxpayers half a billion dollars over the next decade, Salazar wrote in a blog.

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The Interior Department estimates that the initiative will produce $100 million in annual savings from 2016 to 2020, for a cumulative total of $500 million. Major cost-savings are expected from:

  • A 45 percent reduction in the number of data centers.
  • A single email system that will halve costs while improving its overall effectiveness.
  • A Cloud-based electronic forms system.
  • Cloud-based electronic records, documents and content management solutions.

A key change in the IT market is the evolution of IT from an asset to a service. As a result, Interior officials want to offer their IT infrastructure such as web hosting or desktop computing, as pre-packaged services in the cloud that can be purchased at a price and quantity that align with program budgets, according to the IT Transformation Plan.

Interior officials also recognize that technology is a catalyst for change and serves as a vehicle for the delivery of more modern, agile services. As a result, a goal of the IT transformation is to modernize mission support with 21st century IT, the plan states.

The transformation will be self-funded, in part by capturing savings that are realized through IT efficiencies and reinvesting those funds into subsequent phases of transformation.

Interior will form bureau-led teams to help design the way IT services will be delivered and managed. Professionals from within the department will be involved at every level in order to ensure that the IT transformation introduces services that meet the needs of customers and can be implemented with minimal disruption on mission-related programs.

“DOI’s internal talent will be used throughout the IT transformation to ensure future IT services meet the needs of our customers, while providing the best value to the American taxpayers,” said Bernard Mazer, Interior’s CIO.

Collaboration with Interior Department employees was instrumental in developing the plan. The department’s IT leaders held nearly 70 site visits at 35 cities in 18 states, meeting with more than 1,500 employees and soliciting their opinions.

By December 2011, Interior will launch several pilots of these services to provide value to agency users of IT in a way they can see, feel, and touch, according to Interior officials.

“This plan is a first step in what will be a four-year journey, and as such, is a roadmap for the hard work ahead,” the report states. The document will be supplemented in coming months by detailed execution plans for IT services.

Interior’s objective is to build technology and the infrastructure for delivery of services in a manner that improves performance and reduces costs. This can be achieved through data center consolidation.

DOI has made a commitment to the Office of Management and Budget to reduce the number of Interior’s data centers by 45 percent from 210 to 115, by 2014. Ninety-five data centers have been identified by the bureaus and offices as sites where hosting operations can be easily migrated to another location.

For the remaining 115 data centers, Interior will pursue a continuous consolidation plan.

Department officials have developed a rigorous migration planning and execution process to assess the feasibility of decommissioning, migrating, or retaining operations based on a careful assessment of the applications that are being hosted at each site, the IT Transformation Plan states.

Using this process, the department will continue to consolidate data centers throughout the three IT transformation phases, leveraging different sourcing alternatives such as cloud computing that will become available as the transformation evolves.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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