Treasury connects data to make better decisions

Thursday - 8/23/2012, 10:37pm EDT

Robyn East, CIO, Department of Treasury & Paul Sforza, senior advisor to the Treasury CIO

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The Treasury Department is creating an enterprise data warehouse to better use information to make decisions.

Robyn East, Treasury's chief information officer, said the database will include procurement, financial and human resources information.

"We started with a very robust set of personnel data as the foundation and now we are building other things around it," she said.

Part of how Treasury will augment the data warehouse is by better integrating three disparate procurement systems.

East said she led a TechStat session to figure out how the integration and eventual consolidation would work.

"For the procurement systems, we took a bit of a different approach," she said. "We decided to look across Treasury at the procurement systems that were in use and have a conversation about what we might be able to look at in terms of a more consolidated use of these systems."

Out of that TechStat came several initiatives around improving the use and management of procurement data.

East said she created several working groups focused on standardizing data, creating a data dictionary of procurement definitions and bring data out of those systems to make better decisions.

"We realized it wasn't realistic to consolidate to one procurement system right away," she said.

Paul Sforza, a senior advisor to the Treasury CIO, said the three procurement systems don't offer a clear view of the data in the systems or how the information correlates with governmentwide platforms.

"We saw an immediate opportunity to pull it out of those platforms, getting it into the business intelligence environment and beginning to look for things like data quality issues, begin to look for things like opportunities for strategic sourcing or common needs or requirements across the organization that before we didn't have purview because we didn't have access to the data," Sforza said. "The first set of the investments is to essentially begin to do that work." Sforza said the working groups came up with three major initiatives:

  • Data cleanup
  • A collaboration platform for procurement workers to work on documents or requirements.
  • A business intelligence platform

Sforza said the Chief Acquisition Officer's office led the working groups and he offered insight into how technology could meet the goals under the initiatives. East said Treasury started with the data dictionary, and will implement the other two when funding becomes available.

Sforza said TechStat gave the procurement consolidation effort a sense of urgency and formality.

"It forced the procurement community and IT enterprise to come together weekly and begin to articulate what was required and how to get there," he said. "It also provided a forum to putting those recommendations forward and created an executive organization to make those tough decisions on what to invest in."

Sforza said in the past none of these efforts around consolidation were able to gain funding or wide spread support before they went through the TechStat session.

"I think it's true across the board what the TechStat process, and you see we've adapted it a bit for this particular topic, what it provides is structure and gives us the impetus.

It has the visibility and all of those things to cause people to pay attention, to be more responsive because of the formality of the process before, during and after a session," East said. "It's a real success story in terms of using that process to define some activities that very much need to be done and will benefit Treasury long term."

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