Interior makes plans to resuscitate its land and mineral record system

Interior makes plans to resuscitate its land and mineral record system

BLM's Gayle Gordon says a study will help the agency define its systems priorities.

By Frank Tiboni

GCN Staff

By year's end, the Bureau of Land Management will release a blueprint for upgrading the systems it uses to manage the nation's land and mineral resources'almost 10 years after it came up with the original plan.

The Interior Department agency began a study in July that followed the department's April decision to kill the Automated Land and Mineral Record System project.

Since the early 1990s, Interior had been planning to make ALMRS its new mineral and land management system. But ALMRS was a flop, and department officials ultimately decided not to deploy it to BLM users nationwide.

BLM, headquartered in Denver, expects to complete the enterprise architecture study for ALMRS replacement in December.

'The study is focusing on the priorities of the system,' said Gayle Gordon, the bureau's chief information officer. 'You have a better handle on what you need when you prioritize.'

With the ALMRS project a bust, BLM is still using its legacy applications running on mainframe hardware: a Groupe Bull DPS 8000 and a Burroughs Corp. 7800. The agency has tweaked the software and, after the department decided to cancel ALMRS, gotten the systems 2000-ready, Gordon said.

Interior in May 1991 awarded an 11-year, $403 million contract to Computer Sciences Corp. to develop ALMRS for BLM.

But a prerollout assessment of ALMRS by Mitretek Systems of McLean, Va., found the system difficult to use, labor intensive, slow to respond, and expensive to operate and maintain, said Daryl White, Interior's CIO.

Weak project management skills also led to ALMRS' demise, he said.

'This is not a slam against any particular office within DOI,' White said. 'I think it's a systemic problem on the non-Defense side of the federal government.'

Military's different

White said he sees a difference between civilian and Defense agencies' ability to field workable systems.

Before he became Interior's CIO in March of last year, White was deputy director of the Army's Digitization Office at the Pentagon.

The Mitretek study convinced Interior to cancel ALMRS citing changing technology, the lack of user involvement during development and the need for a more modular approach to systems acquisition, White said [GCN, May 24, Page 16].

Because ALMRS was large and difficult to maintain, BLS officials are looking at a more modular approach for the replacement effort, Gordon said.

'The need for a system is still evident,' White said. 'We're going to do it the right way. The new system will make it because of process and discipline.'

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