News in Brief

HUD IT, an Army airport for drones and Reid pins losses on HealthCare.gov

screen capture of HealthCare.gov site

Did bad federal IT doom the Democrats in November?

The Senate majority leader is blaming the troubled rollout of the federally facilitated exchanges under the 2010 health care law for the battering Democrats endured at the polls last month.

Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is set to become minority leader of the Senate in the next Congress, told Politico that the botched launch of HealthCare.gov gave Republicans "ammunition to go after all of my candidates."

While the HealthCare.gov site is functioning well during the current open enrollment season, it took months of expensive and concerted effort fix the site, which had more than $600 million in development costs prior to launch.

Reid didn't name any other factors that might have contributed to the Republican win. "We never recovered from the Obamacare rollout. ... I'm not going to beat up on Obama. The rollout didn't go well. We never recovered from that."

Stuck in the mud at HUD

The Government Accountability Office checked back in on IT operations at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly 1.5 years since its last congressionally mandated report, and found that HUD still needs to take additional steps to effectively run and govern its IT systems.

Specifically, the department has not set a schedule for developing policies for IT investment performance, privacy, and risk management, GAO said in a report released Dec. 10.

According to the report, HUD does not have an efficient process for selecting IT investments and has not fully set up practices for identifying, evaluating, and prioritizing proposed projects. The CIO shop said that a many of the weaknesses in this area are a result of changes in leadership, priorities and approaches.

GAO found that the four review boards HUD chartered to manage its IT investments did not have a leader, and the executive-level board, which is supposed to be in charge of the entire process, has never met.

There were also issues with the accuracy of reported cost savings.

"While HUD has reported governance-related cost savings and operational efficiencies, the data to support such reports were not always accurate, consistent, or substantiated," the report said.

Army building airport for drones

The Army's ever-growing use of unmanned aerial systems has gotten to the point where two of the most commonly used UAS are getting their own airport, Defense Systems reports.

The service's Corps of Engineers at Fort Worth, Texas, has awarded a $33 million contract to SGS to build a 150-acre unmanned aircraft launch and recovery complex at Fort Bliss for Grey Eagle and Shadow UAS.

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