Inside the Reporter's Notebook: CIO switching DHS components, HUD stuck in 2005

Friday - 2/28/2014, 5:03pm EST

"Inside the Reporter's Notebook" is a bi-weekly dispatch of news and information you may have missed or that slipped through the cracks at conferences, hearings and the like.

This is not a column nor commentary — it's news tidbits, strongly sourced buzz, and other items of interest that have happened or are happening in the federal IT and acquisition communities.

As always, I encourage you to submit ideas, suggestions and, of course, news to me at

CIO switching DHS components

Another senior technology official at the Homeland Security Department is on the move. Thomas Michelli, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief information officer, made an interesting decision to step down and become the deputy CIO for the Coast Guard.

According to an email to his staff, which Federal News Radio obtained, Michelli will leave ICE on March 8.

"An opportunity with the U.S. Coast Guard has recently arisen, and after much deliberation, I have decided to accept this opportunity," Michelli wrote to staff on Thursday. "I'm most thankful for the opportunity to serve as your CIO. To each of you, thanks for your support! You are dedicated and very skilled civil servants/IT professionals and I commend your support of ICE's mission. I have every confidence that you will continue to enable ICE to ever greater mission accomplishments to protect and secure our nation through innovative information technology and business solutions."

One industry source, who requested anonymity, said the Coast Guard recruited Michelli as a possible replacement for Rear Adm. Robert Day, the service's CIO.

The source said Day is expected to announce in the coming months that he will retire by the end of the fiscal year.

"Tom could step up to be the CIO, but, so far, the Coast Guard wants to keep the CIO role as an admiral position. But that could change," the source said.

Phil Letowt, ICE's chief technology officer, is expected to be will be acting CIO after Michelli leaves next week. Letowt has been with ICE's CIO office since 2007.

Michelli has been CIO at ICE since 2012 and spent much of his career in the Army Reserves where he rose to the rank of colonel and worked on the mobilization to the Army's Information and Security Command, where he served as the chief of the Regional Computer Emergency Team - Southwest Asia and then as the director for operations at the Army Cyber Warfare Center.

The move to the Coast Guard comes as Michelli faced tough criticisms at a recent House Homeland Security Committee hearing over the TECS system that ICE and Customs and Border Protection are developing together.

An email to ICE asking about Michelli's decision to step down was not returned.

"Tom was known for listening to his subordinates and brought a sense of cohesion to the IT team," the industry source said. "He brought everyone into the discussion and wasn't afraid to go to ICE's senior levels and be honest about what they could accomplish."

HUD to remain stuck in seat management

Almost three years after it held industry days and put our requests for information, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will remain stuck in 2005 for a few more years.

HUD quietly extended the HITS contracts to Lockheed Martin and HP Enterprise Services Feb. 14 for potentially another three years.

Lockheed and HP have shared responsibilities to run the agency's network and computing services since 2005 under what was a $800 million contract, that by now has ballooned to more than $1 billion.

HUD had planned to move to a new, cloud infrastructure under the HUDNet program.

The notices on extending HITS offer few details as to the status of the HUDNet program, but does mention that the final option year under the HITS extension should be used for transition.

Transition to what? It's not clear.

An email to HUD asking for details was not returned.

But a 2014 Working Capital Fund document on HUD's website sheds some light.

"HUD is approaching the HUDNET implementation in two phases over three years. The two phases are organized to combine services with the goal of optimizing cost and performance efficiencies and effectiveness," HUD wrote in the document. "Phase 1 encompasses analysis of HUD IT infrastructure core services, technology shifts, Departmental priorities, service gaps, and the strategic direction of HUD and the federal community. As a result, HUD has been able to determine its contracting requirements for three of the five HUDNET services-Systems Engineering and Management, Transport Services, Automated Monitoring and Management. The first two of these have been solicited and are already in technical evaluation panel review, and the third is nearly ready to be released for competition. These services will enable HUD to support requirements for continuous monitoring, performance and asset management, transparency of operations, and technical planning. Phase 2 of HUDNET will complete HUD's transition to the new IT Infrastructure, including bringing on-line the last two HUDNET services (Data Center/Housing and End User)."

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