State's troubled knowledge management program scuttled

The State Department has decided to end its knowledge management pilot, which the department planned and implemented poorly, the department's inspector general said.

The department's Information Resources Management Bureau independently reached the same conclusion and decided to merge the Foreign Affairs Systems Integration project with another messaging project called the State Message Archive and Retrieval Toolset.

The Inspector General's report, The Foreign Affairs Systems Integration Project Needs Redirection, criticized the implementation of FASI's Interagency Collaboration Zone, a part of the pilot that allowed users from various foreign affairs agencies to collaborate, share e-mail and use a common directory, among other knowledge management tools.

The department's pilot rolled out FASI in Washington, Mexico and India in mid-2002. 'However, poor timing, lagging ICZ content management, IT resource constraints and unresolved system and technical problems ' hindered efforts to get pilot users trained, certified and committed to using the system,' the report said.

The IG said the schedule for the pilot had been compressed because of unexpected delays, and therefore its timeframe and scope had been reduced, 'leaving a diminished basis for a senior management decision regarding global ICZ deployment.'

The IG recommended that the department's systems planners re-examine user requirements and alternative approaches to meeting them. 'As the lead agency for the initiative, the department must also take steps to establish executive sponsorship, well-defined cost models and interagency agreements to ensure funding and commitment to global implementation of the system,' the IG said.

The report said that more vigorous coordination of FASI across agencies would help overcome cultural barriers to using the system for interagency collaboration.

A State spokeswoman said the SMART program would involve creating a messaging system over the next two years that will be much more flexible and capable than State's existing system based on a decades-old tradition of telegrams.

State awarded contracts worth $130,000 to teams led by Accenture LLP of Chicago, Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego and SRA International Inc. of Fairfax, Va., for the prototype phase of FASI [www.gcn.com/21_3/news/17907-1.html]. Congress provided State with $17 million to fund the pilot phase of the project.

State's CIO Fernando Burbano told the IG office that the department's systems organization had decided to overhaul FASI after conducting its own review of the project.

The department released the IG report following a GCN request under the Freedom of Information Act.

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