Agriculture changing data centers expertise

PHILADELPHIA'The Agriculture Department is reconfiguring its data centers in New Orleans and in Kansas City, Mo., to take advantage of volume purchases across the department and improve disaster recovery.

Scott Charbo, department CIO, said yesterday that the National Finance Center in New Orleans would handle disaster recovery for all the agency's bureaus, while the National IT Center in Kansas City would provide data warehousing.

Charbo, who spoke at the American Council for Technology's 2005 Management of Change conference, said bureaus could apply for a waiver not to use New Orleans or Kansas City, but they would have to justify why.

Agriculture awarded a contract to IBM Corp. to provide the design, implementation and migration of this new plan.

'We just launched the project to better align the data centers,' Charbo said during a panel discussion about sustaining e-government projects. 'We have two big assets from an infrastructure standpoint. By aligning them, we will have a standard configuration, which will enable us to make larger buys and save money.'

Charbo said previously NITC bought or used disaster recovery services from other sources.

Agriculture also is strongly emphasizing that bureaus submit business cases using earned-value management (EVM). Charbo said department executives are working on a policy for major projects with a large amount of development money.

'I've issued a memo to the bureaus encouraging the use of EVM,' Charbo said. 'It is a part of the President's Management Agenda scorecard that we are graded on, and it helps me see which projects may need more attention.'

EVM is a project management application that integrates the scope of work with cost, schedule and performance elements for optimal project planning and control.

Agriculture's focus on EVM is part of a governmentwide move to use the methodology more regularly. The Civilian and Defense acquisition councils issued a proposed rule to add EVM to the Federal Acquisition Regulations in April [see GCN story].

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