Okay, how many of you would willingly sign a multi-billion dollar IT outsourcing contract that didn't include a contract deliverable requiring that redundancy be provided for your organization's critical infrastructure networks?
None of you?
Well, we the taxpayers of Virginia need you to go work for our Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA).
Apparently, when VITA negotiated its 10-year, $2.3 billion outsourcing contract with Northrop Grumman to modernize Virginia's 85 state government agencies' IT systems and networks, it forgot to require network that backup capability be provided in case of network failure, the Richmond Times-Disptach reported over the weekend.
The new Virginia state CIO, George F. Coulter, was quoted as saying,
"The first thing I noticed was that the network that Northrop Grumman rolled out didn't have redundancy, backup. .. The contract does not call for redundancy in carriers . . . in the network. .. Why that wasn't put into the network, I don't know. This is a service we have to have."
During the first six months of 2009, Virginia's Department of Transportation (VDOT) experienced 101 significant IT outages totaling 4,677 hours: an average of more than 46 hours per outage. One outage, the Times-Dispatch said, took 360 hours to correct. The state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has experienced over the course of 5 weeks this autumn some 12 outages that put individual DMV offices out of business for a total of more than 100 hours the paper says.
Before the outsourcing contract, VDOT had network redundancy.
So much for the benefits of IT modernization.
The state is now planning an emergency meeting in early December to try to figure out how to negotiate this capability into its outsourcing contract with Northrop Grumman. CIO Coutler says he doesn't having pricing on it yet, nor a timeline on how it would take to roll-out out.
Somehow, I don't think Northrop Grumman is going to provide it cheaply or quickly.
I also wonder how much the lack of providing network redundancy made up some of the original cost savings the IT outsourcing contract supposedly would generate.
Kind of makes Texas's outsourcing problems look manageable in comparison.
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.