NASA Glenn restructures IT delivery to focus on mission needs

Tuesday - 7/16/2013, 2:49pm EDT

Randy Humphries, CIO, NASA Glenn Research Center

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Randy Humphries is far from your typical chief information officer. The NASA Glenn Research Center technology official spent most of his career working in the mission area, specifically around space flight.

Humphries focused his skills around project and program management to improve mission functions.

So when he was tapped to be CIO about three years ago, Humphries decided to mold his new office around what he knows best, using IT to meet mission goals.

"Understanding the missions of NASA and Glenn is very important to a CIO. That's our job," he said. "Our job is not to deliver IT, it is to deliver information technology needed by the mission."

To that end, Humphries created new offices to focus on integration of IT with the center's business units and greater partner services, which includes a project management office, IT business process improvement office and a new group of mission specialists, who understand the aeronautics, engineering and the research organizations and will figure out the best ways to bring IT services to them. These offices are similar to a vendor management organization, but focused internally.

"We also have reorganized our IT security organization. Now we call it our risk management organization," Humphries said. "Now we looking at the security risk of the center and delivering the security against the risk as opposed to a peanut butter approach to it, as well as working with the agency to help make sure our systems are secure."

He added Glenn Deputy CIO Sean Gallagher is leading an IT consolidation effort to integrate different elements of IT delivery to ensure technology is delivered to mission areas through a more centralized approach.

Humphries said the goal of the project management office is to improve the discipline around Glenn's IT projects.

"We have a list of programs and projects, we know who are managers are and how we may need to train those people," he said. "We have our experts help shepherd our primary projects at this point."

Humphries said this organization already is providing benefits, especially around the implementation of new technology under the IT Infrastructure Integration Program (I3P), a set of four contracts worth more than $4 billion to centralize and update NASA's IT infrastructure.

Humphries said starting in January 2012 Glenn began implementing ACES, for end- user services, computers and hardware. Shortly after that, he started using the networking contract.

"We have some delivery of applications as well," he said. "That's our primary focus at this point."

Humphries said NASA Glenn is seeing some short and long term benefits. In the short term, he said the I3P contracts have lowered their costs.

But there also have been challenges, especially with transition and change management.

"This is a big change in the way we do business and our users have felt the changes and it has made them uncomfortable at times, as any change does," he said. "So, trying to manage that change and delivery of quality products and services in a transition period can be a challenge. We are working closely with the enterprise partners wherever they are located, making sure they are helping us to bring products and services to Glenn Research Center. On the other side, we are working closely at times, particularly when there are problems with our partners, to understand what their needs are and to understand we are answering the call of their needs in a new way with the I3P program."

The project management office also is helping with the data center and IT consolidation initiatives.

The risk management office still is under development. Humphries said Glenn is working with NASA headquarters' CIO office to conduct a study of the risks across the center and apply the appropriate security.

"My hope is to get this done within the next year," he said. "We want to build up our resources and staffing here and bring on any needed contracting resources to implement that study."

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