Hi fellow GovLoop members. I one of the most ardent IT Reformers in the public sector, having dedicated myself to this one challenge since 2000 when I was asked to head up the Interop. Clearinghouse (ICHnet.org) by the Pentagon’s Defense Reform Office and the DOD CIO. Much has been accomplished in creating a conflict free conduit to commercial innovations, best practices and lessons learned. In 2008, under the leadership of Honorable Mike Wynne, AFSEC retired, I helped launch the IT Acquisition Advisory Council (IT-AAC.org) in partnership with some two dozen like minded think tanks, standards bodies and IT communities of practice. The intent was to provide a counter balance to the Defense Industrial Base suppliers and FFRDCs who control 95% of all major IT programs. Armed with Agile Acquisition Frameworks, Cloud Design Patterns and supporting legislation like FITARA, we are hoping to overcome a two decade struggle with sustainable IT Acquisition Reforms. Clearly, with DOD showing almost no successful IT programs since 2000, and the failure of Healthcare.gov, it might be the perfect storm to usher in new thinking and alternative approached proven to deliver measurable business value to the public sector. Since standing up IT-AAC, we have conducted some 50 Leadership Roundtables, 200 interviews, decomposed over 40 studies and completed root cause analysis of 30 of the largest IT program failures. This has revealed three common failure patterns; 1) Mis-application of an antiquated waterfall acquisition framework developed for weapon systems by our FFRDCs. 2) Mis-use of FFRDC resources to manage the acquisition strategy and engineering, 3) failure to favor an 80% COTS interoperability suite over design-to-spec solution.
Examples include FBI Sentinel, DHS SBInet, NGA GEOSCOUT, NRO FIA, DISA NECC, HHS Healthcare.gov, DoD/VA iEHR, IRS Modernization system to name a few. When looking at this evidence, Vivek Kundra called out the federal “IT Cartel” as did JCS General Hoss Cartwright. A recent Defense Science Board report on Defense IT forecasts a national security threat if not addressed soon, leading to the signing of the 2010 NDAA Section 804 directing DoD to hault its use of the DOD5000 for IT systems. Unfortunately, the implementation was given to the same company who develops and maintains these processes; Mitre.