Last October, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki, W. Scott Gould and CIO Roger Baker moved to take unprecedented control of the VA's 280 IT programs, too many of which were not delivering any value for money.
As you may recall, the VA temporarily halted 45 information technology projects which were either behind schedule or over budget. After a review, 15 of the 45 IT projects were terminated or had their funding cut, another 17 committed to meeting milestones to deliver new functionality to customers, while the final 13 were going to be re-planned or restarted.
This action saved some $54 million.
Well, the VA's management team has followed that unprecedented move with another.
CIO Baker and his team reviewed the remainder of the VA's IT projects and found many of them wanting in some way, an article in Washington Technology reports. CIO Baker announced that only 92 of the 280 are currently authorized to spend their IT budgets.
As for the rest, 93 IT projects are being replanned, 53 have been moved into the not started bin, 21 have either been terminated or completed and 21 are in the "other" category, which I assume means they are still having their fates determined.
In somewhat of an understatement, CIO Baker is quoted as saying, "It is clear we are not spending a lot of money right now... We are being very tight on which projects we are starting to work on."
Kudos to the VA senior management for taking bold, aggressive action to bring what to many of the VA IT staff and contractors must seem privately as "unreasonable" oversight of their IT projects. I only wish that other US government departments would be as aggressive and brutally honest about the state of their IT projects.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.