FCW Insider

Blog archive

Can Jim Duffey save Virginia's huge outsourcing contract?

As former EDS executive James Duffey prepares to become Virginia’s next secretary of technology, one big task looms ahead of him – getting the state’s outsourcing contract with Northrop Grumman back on track.

The $2 billion contract has missed deadlines and fallen well short of expectations. State auditors and the company have traded salvos over who carries the most blame.

The contract is so large and far-reaching – every state agency is supposed to turn over their IT infrastructure to Northrop – that cancelling the contract isn’t really an option.

So who better to face that challenge, or call it a mess, than Duffey?

He was part of EDS when the company turned around its own troubled outsourcing contract, the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. NMCI has gone from being an albatross for the company to being a star.

EDS, now HP Enterprise Services, also manages other huge outsourcing contracts on the state and local level, particularly in the Medicaid and Medicare processing area.

Because Virginia can’t afford to fire Northrop Grumman, it has to help the contractor succeed, and Duffey knows very well what a contractor needs to succeed.

He faces two hurdles, though. First is getting the state legislature to give him the authority to directly manage the contract. Virginia, my beloved home state, has a screwy structure among its secretary of technology, chief information officer and the Virginia Information Technologies Agency. In an effort to remove politics from the CIO and VITA, the state created a structure where no one is really accountable.

I hope that will get fixed.

The second hurdle is that no one has pulled off a successful statewide outsourcing project.

Good luck, Mr. Duffey.

Coincidentally, Northrop Grumman is in the midst of moving its headquarters from California to the D.C. area. I'm not sure what role, if any, Duffey will have in trying to bring the company to Virginia for its corporate headquarters. Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell has pledged that he won’t let the wooing of Northrop Grumman to the commonwealth interfere with pressure on the company to perform better.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 07, 2010 at 12:18 PM


Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.