Interior defines new approach to IT

Friday - 7/8/2011, 5:12pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The Interior Department's roadmap to transform its technology infrastructure is finished. But now the hard part really begins.

Interior believes this four-year project will save $500 million between 2016 and 2020, and will cost no extra money to implement. The IT transformation is only focused on back office, enterprisewide systems and not mission specific systems.

Interior's plan details three basic goals:

  • Shift the focus of large-scale IT planning from the acquisition of physical hardware and software to the delivery of customer-oriented services whose value will be measured by their impact on the mission.

  • Establish a new purchasing model for IT by which bureaus will buy services instead of infrastructure. For each service area, the price will represent the total cost of ownership, expected level of performance, and a schedule for delivery that will match program timelines.

  • Meet or exceed customer expectations for reliability, accessibility, and availability to the information resources needed to achieve our missions.

"DOI's internal talent will be used throughout the IT transformation to ensure future IT services meet the needs of our customers, while providing the best value to the American taxpayers," said Bernie Mazer, Interior's chief information officer, in a release. "The best solution for each service will be pursued, whether it is from internal capabilities or external providers."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on a blog post on Whitehouse.gov that the IT modernization plan is part of a broader effort to reduce spending.

"In the last year, we at the Department of the Interior have also cut our contracting expenses by more than a quarter of a billion dollars," Salazar wrote. "On top of that, we have cut back on administrative expenses by nearly a hundred million dollars in the last year, and we're going to cut another hundred million dollars in the coming year."

Interior's IT budget is more than $961 million in 2011.

Salazar kicked off the IT reforms in December with a memo reorganizing the structure of the agency's CIOs.

The department said it will fund the transformation from existing money or through the savings. It also will use the money remaining in its CIO's 2010 working capital fund set aside for IT transformation.

"By December 2011, the department will launch several pilots of these services to provide value to our customers in a way they can see, feel, and touch," the plan stated.

The pilots likely will focus on back office or administrative systems including unified messaging, telecommunications, account management, hosting services, workplace computing services, risk management and help desk services.

Interior also will shutdown 45 percent of its data centers, continue its move to a single email system and move its electronic forms system, electronic records management system, and its document and content management system to cloud computing services. Mazer wrote in a June 6 blog on CIO.gov, Interior already closed four data centers and plans to close 14 more by the end of 2011.

"We currently manage 13 stand-alone email systems at DOI, a result of the dispersed nature of the agency and a legacy of piecemeal development of IT at the bureau level," Mazer wrote in the blog. "We are in the process of consolidating these systems into a unified, cloud-based email service that will support 85,000 users across DOI. DOI.gov will also be moving to a cloud platform in order to better accommodate the five-million visitors per year who use the site. Of course, both of these initiatives will lead to cost savings, but the cloud also promises better service, such as guaranteed 99.9 percent uptime for both projects."

The plan also details short and longer term steps the agency will take to meet its goals, including developing workforce strategies and financial models.

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