Bureau of Land Management gains ground on IT development

Bureau of Land Management gains ground on IT development

CIO Hord Tipton says BLM will earn a CMM Level 2 rating by June.

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

The Bureau of Land Management's process for managing its information technology is slowly growing up.

The bureau is running several simultaneous projects geared to raise the agency's rating on the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model, BLM chief information officer Hord Tipton said. BLM's sofware development skills are rated at Level 1 of the five-level model.

Tipton said the Interior Department agency wants to get a Level 2 rating by June.

'We had contract help in developing pieces of our architecture,' he said. 'And, TRW Inc. helped to develop our information technology basic hardware and software.'

The bureau just finished the first version and volume of a technical reference guide that it will use to manage equipment upgrades, he said.

BLM began revamping its methods for IT procurement after the General Accounting Office determined the agency spent $67 million on unusable software for the doomed Automated Land and Mineral Record System [GCN, April 3, Page 1].

Agency chiefs had been counting on ALMRS to reduce BLM's dependence on paper and insulate it against date code failures.

Both Tipton and Interior CIO Darryl White pulled the plug on ALMRS after declaring it a project management failure.

'Now we are heavy into project management,' Tipton said earlier this month. 'We have a proj- ect management training curriculum, and we already have 15 graduates.'

A second class is undergoing project management training now, he said.

Tipton has tapped one of the first graduates, John Foster, acting systems coordination office manager, to oversee the effort to improve BLM's maturity rating on the software development model.

Meeting with GAO

The agency has set a November 2001 goal for reaching Level 3, Tipton said.

Foster agreed the agency has been working at a hare's pace to improve project management. He estimated that BLM currently is somewhere between Level 1 and Level 2.

'We are getting discipline in place, along with procedures and processes,' he said. 'Now, we are looking at managing projects, looking at business cases and going to investment boards. Next, we'll look at the control piece and do audits. It all has to tie back to business architecture.'

Senior managers are meeting with GAO auditors to ensure the agency's improvements remain on track, he said.

The tough part is determining what is working and what isn't, Tipton said.

The bureau has hired Orkand Corp. to independently evaluate BLM software, databases and operating systems as it continues to develop its IT planning processes.

The Falls Church, Va., company will also provide technical expertise on geographic information systems and remote sensing technologies.

'We're making some headway,' Foster said. 'But, we're not moving as fast as eith-er Hord or I would like to see it happening.'

The use of the new processes will come into play as the bureau looks at 2001 planning efforts for its environmental impact statements and evaluations.


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