Smaller IT budget doesn't stop FDIC from modernizing

Thursday - 5/23/2013, 10:37pm EDT

Ask the CIO - April 4, 2013

Listen to the full show.

Download mp3

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's technology budget for fiscal 2013 is more than $30 million less than 2012.

And Russ Pittman, the FDIC's chief information officer and director of the Division of IT, is happy about it--in fact he requested the decrease.

The FDIC's IT budget in 2012 was $382 million. In 2013, it's about $350 million.

FDIC's the lower IT budget comes at a time when every CIO is expecting a flat or lower budget in the coming years.

The Office of Management and Budget has been pushing agencies to move money out of the operational column and into the capital expenditure column to improve services and reduce costs in the long term.

And that's exactly what Pittman did and will continue to do over the next few years.

"In 2012, we were able to complete several automation and virtualization initiatives and I had asked for an 8 percent decrease in our overall IT budget in 2013 and it was granted," Pittman said. "We do expect the investment budget will increase in the coming years as we are modernizing several applications that are 10-to-12-to-15 years old. Our goal is to get the operating budget down."

FDIC recently released an updated business technology strategic plan that focuses more on the business side of the agency and where technology improvements are needed to improve those mission areas.

"We sat down with each of our business groups and talked about capabilities, what kind of capabilities would they need in the future. We did a capabilities map of needs across the organization and then we had our business users give us feedback on which capabilities were strategic and which were not, and then also feedback on which we did well and which we did not," he said. "Then using those capability maps and strategies we came up with the people, the process and the technology that were needed to improve over time."

In addition to the strategic plan, which hadn't been revised in about five years, Pittman said the FDIC also released a operating plan that will indicate what the technology milestones are and how they will achieve the business strategic goals.

"You won't find anything in this [strategic] plan about servers, networking or telecommunications," he said. "It's all about what's our goal for achieving certain business capabilities over the next five years."

Moving away from custom built apps

Pittman said a major area of focus will continue to be around the older applications first.

Starting in 2008, FDIC started updating its custom-built mission-related apps and about 29 percent are done.

"We are working on the rest of it between now and 2018. We will get all of those started and within seven years finish them all," he said. "It's a long chore, but it's a good thing to do to make sure the applications are built so the business side can use them and they fulfill their needs."

Pittman added the biggest challenge is many of the older apps are written in computer languages that aren't supported anymore. Additionally, the systems are monolithic by nature and don't use business services.

FDIC has moved to agile development and is using Rational Unified Process (RUP) shop.

RUP is an iterative software development process created by IBM in 2003 that can adapt to changing needs and be tailored to new requirements.

Pittman said using the agile and RUP approaches lets FDIC address the highest risk areas first and deliver new capabilities more often.

As for the back office systems, Pittman said many already moved into the commercial world, but the support and services of those applications are opportunities for savings.

The FDIC reopened its Infrastructure Support Contract (ISC2) after a bid protest stalled it.

Pittman said FDIC released the updated solicitation through General Services Administration's Alliant governmentwide acquisition contract.

ISC2 asks a vendor to support FDIC's infrastructure facilities, hardware, software and systems on a daily basis.

The current contract has a ceiling of $457 million. SRA is the incumbent.

Pittman said the FDIC, through GSA, is scheduled to re-award ISC2 this summer.

RELATED STORIES:

FDIC, Surface Board rely on communication to take top spots on Best Places to Work list

Highest ranked agencies distinguished by strong leadership