BLM restarts modernization

BLM restarts modernization


The Bureau of Land Management is on the road again. BLM, which last spring halted new information technology projects until it had implemented investment and project management processes, has kicked off its National Integrated Land System project, said Hort Tipton, BLM chief information officer.

Hort Tipton
The first phase of the joint project with the Forest Service is an intranet that will let BLM and Forest Service users share data, Tipton said. Known as GeoCommunicator, the Web application would tap databases run by the agencies.

Last month, the General Accounting Office reported that although BLM has improved its IT architecture enough to support the project, its investment management processes still cannot ensure that the $16.7 million GeoCommunicator project won't falter.

'By moving forward with development of the GeoCommunicator module before strengthening its investment management processes, the bureau is increasing the risk that the project may not adequately meet its needs or be delivered as planned,' concluded the report, Land Management Systems: BLM's Actions to Improve Information Technology Management.

Tipton agreed that BLM's investment management still needs work, but the agency had to begin the GeoCommunicator project because funding had been earmarked for this fiscal year, he said.

Not so fast

The agency will continue working on its management processes as it proceeds with the modernization, Tipton said. As part of that effort, BLM is setting up an investment management group. The agency is giving itself six months to tailor the panel, he said.

But GAO warned that the bureau also risks corrupting its internal data if it proceeds too swiftly with the project.

GeoCommunicator, as described in BLM plans, appears to lack adequate controls to keep users from downloading land record data from outside sources into BLM's databases and commingling it with the agency's legacy data, GAO said.

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