HUD's team effort

Modernization vision relies on business leaders

HUD CIO LISA SCHLOSSER: 'The new thinking is, have a vision, but implement in a modular way so you can demonstrate return on investment quickly.'

Laurie DeWitt

In its Vision 2010 document released in February, the Housing and Urban Development Department laid out its modernization strategy around its core lines of business.

To get there in about four years, the department will rely on portfolio and project management'the basic tenets of any large system modernization effort'according to CIO Lisa Schlosser.

As the agency implements its strategy of improving its business applications, Schlosser said HUD is hiring certified project managers and putting them in charge of specific efforts. She cited one recent success: the consolidation of 10 processes into a single records-management application, accomplished in approximately six months.

'Having a qualified project manager is really the critical success factor,' Schlosser said.

HUD also organized a team of IT and business staff people who meet quarterly to develop system requirements and conduct tests for user acceptance.

'You have to have integrated project teams,' Schlosser said, 'and part of the role of that project leader is to keep the business leaders involved throughout the process.'

Efficient use of centralized services, such as the Agriculture Department's National Finance Center, is another of the Office of Management and Budget's IT strategies that can aid modernization, since it saves agencies the work of developing business systems. Indeed, shared services are an important element in HUD's modernization strategy, Schlosser said. 'The new thinking is, have a vision, but implement in a modular way so you can demonstrate return on investment quickly,' she said.

Schlosser has been credited with bringing all of HUD's business systems into compliance with the Federal Information Systems Management Act in a single year. HUD expects to receive green scores across the board in this year's President's Management Agenda scorecard.

Schlosser said she believes the secret was hiring an industry-recognized chief information security officer (Patrick Howard), getting executive staff involved, and borrowing best practices from the Transportation and Education departments. Now HUD is in Year One'the requirements phase'of a major push to develop an agencywide, integrated financial system.

'I believe it starts with having good, qualified business leaders during the modernization, not just CIOs anymore,' Schlosser said.

She also is contemplating getting vendors and other industry partners to share some of the risk, perhaps through a new type of performance-driven contract containing service-level agreements like those offered by network providers.

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