Agencies grasp onto IT optimization

Thursday - 11/20/2008, 7:12am EST

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
FederalNewsRadio

Two large technology infrastructure optimization and consolidation solicitations are in the offing.

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expect to release a draft request for proposal or request for information by January and final RFPs by March.

These multi-billion dollar contracts likely are just the start of what is becoming a trend across the government.

"Who and how we will manage these infrastructures will be different," says Brian Burns, deputy chief information officer for emerging technology for the Navy. "At the end of the day, there are some fundamental constructs that still remain: infrastructure is here to support a business need; automated asset management is critical; governance has got to be in place; configuration and contract management are key to supporting our infrastructure."

NASA's I3P contract could be worth $15 billion, according to market research firm Input. It will cover five functional areas including enterprise services, data center services and end user and desktop support.

Robert Binkley, NASA Dryden's CIO, says I3P consolidates five existing contracts. NASA currently is figuring out how to integrate the current contracts into I3P.

NOAA's NOAALink contract is for general IT services, such as back office and administration systems. Zach Goldstein, CIO of NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, says the contract also may be used for mission systems.

Goldstein, speaking Wednesday in Bethesda, Md. during a panel discussion sponsored by AFCEA Bethesda, Md. Chapter, says NOAA spends about $250 million a year on IT systems.

"We want a NOAA-wide vehicle to allow us to have visibility into what we are doing with IT contracting," Goldstein says.

NOAA will award a single contract for strategic management, and a multiple award contract for IT services.

These two examples of upcoming contracts are the result of the Office of Management and Budget's IT Line of Business effort. Under this initiative, agencies developed five-year plans on how they will consolidate and optimize their infrastructures. The General Services Administration contracted with Gartner to develop governmentwide baseline data and compare it to industry averages.

Roy Standing, a senior advisor to operations in the State Department, says his agency is analyzing their infrastructure to see how they measure up against themselves and against industry.

Standing says State finished its research around desktop and end user support, and will complete the other two areas,telecommunications and mainframe servers, in early 2009.

"This is the first time we can compare how we are doing," Standing says. "We found our personnel costs are much higher than industry's."

Standing adds that State plans on updating this analysis every year.

"We are trying to put people in the position to understand how they are performing their jobs compared to others," he says. "Then they can decide how they can move forward, continue to do their work or let someone else who is better at it do the work."

Binkley says before any agency optimizes, they must know what they are using. He says asset management plays a big role in that.

NASA has standardized about 80 percent of its desktop PCs and 75 percent of the agency is using one e-mail system.

This progress has helped it implement the Federal Desktop Core Configuration for Microsoft Windows.

"Those who had standardized desktops could implement the FDCC in about two weeks," Binkley says. "And those who didn't have had a lot harder time."

Standing says it will take three things to be successful in optimization:

  • Motivation to do what is best for the agency

  • Leadership that is both practical and visionary

  • Technology that is mature and can fix the agency's business problems

Mike Milazzo, acting deputy CIO for IT operations at the Housing and Urban Development Department, says his experience with IT consolidation has been good. HUD awarded a 10-year $750 million contract to EDS and Lockheed Martin to upgrade and optimize their IT infrastructure.

Milazzo says HUD reduced more than 60 help desks to one, consolidated data centers and upgraded desktops, and is using its server capacity much more efficiently.

Milazzo says the key is communicating requirements to the vendor and to the employees.

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On the Web:

FederalNewsRadio - IT Line of Business relooking at metrics

Office of Management and Budget - IT Line of Business

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