HUD IT office lets nothing slip through the cracks

HUD IT office lets nothing slip through the cracks

With help of tracking and decision-making system, team oversees every aspect of project management



The team at HUD's Information Technology Reform Office goes over data as it maps out a capital investment and project management game plan in its war room.



By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

The Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2-month-old Information Technology Reform Office scrutinizes all aspects of capital investment planning for IT projects.

"We are focusing on improving project management at HUD," said Debra Stouffer, director of the IT Reform Office.

To improve project management and financial integrity, the office is involved in the selection, control and evaluation phases of all IT programs in the department, she said.

Each phase requires meticulous data collection for HUD's 252 IT programs and any proposed programs, Stouffer said.

Data for each project is processed through IT Investment Portfolio System 1.0, a project-tracking and funding decision-making tool developed by Booz, Allen & Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va., and endorsed by the federal Chief Information Officers Council.

I-TIPS is a Web front end. It integrates Cold Fusion 3.1.1 from Allaire Corp. of Cambridge, Mass., Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, the Relational Database Management System 10 from Sybase Inc. and Crystal Report, a reporting tool from Seagate Software Inc. of Heathrow, Fla., Stouffer said.

The system includes lifecycle costs, project plans, work breakdown structure, performance measures, risk assessment and funding sources.

"We do not invest in any IT initiative unless it goes through the I-TIPS process," Stouffer said.

I-TIPS centralizes the information and provides access and credibility by moving away from ad hoc paper documentation, said Marni Frankel, I-TIPS program manager for HUD.

"I-TIPS collects lessons learned and saves those in a repository, where we can take advantage of things that went right and learn from things that did not go quite as well," Stouffer said.

The reform office also has instituted a project management review board, which analyzes project manager performance.

"You basically do a revalidation of the business case to see if the initiative is still meeting the mission, and you meet with the program managers so they can brief you on cost schedule and actual outcome performance," Stouffer said.

IBM Consulting of Bethesda, Md., has provided the support to develop program assessment in preparation for delivering the first batch of recommendations Oct. 1.

The recommendations will be a consensus built from monthly meetings among HUD's offices of the chief financial officer, CIO and chief procurement officer, Stouffer said.

The office is processing the information on all 252 programs to select which items should be included in the fiscal 2000 budget. It is examining the needs and programs of all offices to eliminate redundancies and find areas for cooperation.

Computer security and imaging are areas in which standardized programs can be implemented, Stouffer said.

The office also is proposing a series of workshops through which program managers could break down their program structures and learn to develop appropriate performance metrics, conduct benefit cost analyses and deliver returns.



Debra Stouffer IT Reform Office director says HUD's focus is on improving project management and financial integrity.



The IT Reform Office enforces these guidelines under mandates and stipulations set by Congress and according to policies created by HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo, Stouffer said.

The reform office ensures that IT investments support the agency's overall mission, specifically aligning goals with HUD's 2020 Management Reform Plan. The 2020 plan requires meticulous monitoring, evaluation and consolidation of programs, she said.

The reform office also has implemented performance-based systems to assess the effectiveness of programs, following closely the mandates of the Government Performance Results Act, Stouffer said.

The office also closely follows the mandates of the IT Management Reform Act of 1996.

ITMRA "is IT reform; under it we are supposed to make investments only if they are linked to the mission," Stouffer said.

"There needed to be a special focus on changing the culture within HUD, in terms of how IT could be better leveraged to support the business," she said.

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