The Troubling State of IT Today

By Rhonda Knight,2014-11-13 17:30
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The Troubling State of IT Today

    IT Acquisition Advisory Council

    904 Clifton Drive, Alexandria, VA 22308

    (703) 768-0400 (v) (703) 765-9295 (f)

    Bringing Government into the 21st Century by Creating a Transparent and

    Effective Technology Acquisition Process

    (how the feds can save $20 Billion without reducing capability)

    The Obama-Biden Challenge;

    We must use all available technologies and methods to open up the federal government,

    creating a new level of transparency to change the way business is conducted in

    Washington and giving Americans the chance to participate in government deliberations

    and decision-making in ways that were not possible only a few years ago.” Obama-

    Biden Plan

Key Objective;

    Restore Honesty, Openness, and Commonsense to Contracting and Procurement: The

    Obama-Biden Administration will realize savings by reducing the corruption and cost

    overruns that have become all too routine in defense contracting. This includes launching a program of acquisition reform and management.

Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems

    to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit

    organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector.”

    Background: Due to an antiquated federal IT Acquisition processes, the US is losing billions each year in failed IT programs while losing its leadership position as the engine of IT innovation while impacting critical government IT capability delivery. Furthermore, in spite of numerous laws, GAO Report, blue ribbon panels, and best efforts from our acquisition community, the Federal Government has achieved very limited progress in achieving meaningful IT Acquisition Reform as sought by the Clinger Cohen Act. Twelve years following the signing of the CCA, program failure rates and cost overruns are still between 72 and 80% (GAO, IDG, Gartner) of the estimated $150 Billion in annual IT investments. The cost to the tax payer is an estimated $20 Billion wasted each year that could be saved if the core root causes of these failures were to be systematically addressed and real business process re-engineering were to occur. IT-AAC preliminary analysis derived from prior government studies and blue ribbon panels indicate that the root causes of these failures to be multi-facetted;

    ; An overwhelmed Acquisition Community who does not have access to critical

    decision data on market capabilities or real vendor past performance

    ; Antiquated Acquisition rules, policies and processes that compromise transparency

    and fail to comply with the Clinger Cohen Act mandates

    ; The fast pace of the IT market that exacerbates current acquisition processes,

    methods and oversight mechanisms

    ; Duplicative IT infrastructure imbedded in each major IT program, increasing cost by

    70% (Gartner) and impeding interoperability and security objectives

    ; Duplicative IT research, assessments and testing of commercial solutions, putting an

    unnecessary burden on both agencies and solution suppliers. NDAA directed

    Clearinghouse efforts to enable reuse and sharing have been beset by rice bowls and

    special interests.

    ; Under funded Open Architecture and Innovation Labs mechanisms needed to expose

    proven innovations of the market. Outsourcing of these functions to large system

    integrators has proven ineffective and contrary to the interest of small business and

    open source concerns.

    Crushing financial burdens and deficits, coupled with increase demand for innovative solutions mandate a revamping of IT Acquisition Process and a move away from “build to spec” to a more

    economically viable model of “Open Source Architectures” and “Commercial Off the Shelf”

    solutions that have already been proven in the market. As reflected in the September 08 OSD ATL Strategic Objectives document issued by the Honorable John Young, it is clear that “perfection is the enemy of good enough”. Yet, we continue to discover that “we cannot solve today’s problems with same kind of thinking that got us their in the first place”. Failure is no longer an option.

    Beginning when the Clinger/Cohen Act was drafted in 1996, many recognized that the federal government is no longer the source of innovation in the information systems market (both processes and technology) that it once was during the cold war. Many recognize that DoD and Intelligence agencies need to “establish new processes” and embrace “non-traditional

    contractors” to better leverage emerging technologies and associated best practices residing in commercial industry. Clinger-Cohen strongly encourage acquisition leaders to leverage innovations of the market (COTS, Open Source) that have significantly lower lifecycle cost and lock-in, objectives that are contrary to the incentives currently offered to Lead System Integrators and FFRDCs. These challenges can be overcome with agile acquisition processes, greater financial incentives for leveraging innovation and COTS/Open Source, and delivering on time and within budget. The Interoperability Clearinghouse was charted on 9-11-00 as a to usher in commercial IT approaches and methods, working within forwarding thinking organizations and public service group have emerged that could bring relief to this problem, and with appropriate stewardship and leadership. By expending this humble public/private partnership, and overcoming the root causes of failure, some $50 Billion in failed programs could be redirected to re-establish the US leadership in IT while improving the effectiveness of core government mission elements that are technology dependent.

    IT-AAC Focus: The IT-AAC is organizing as a public/private partnership made up of concerns citizens and public interest groups working together for the common good and overcoming the barriers to failed reform efforts of the past. Its mission is to provide the Obama-Biden Administration and National IT Leadership with a trusted collaborative structure and a 500 Day Transformation plan that details a roadmap for Streamlining the IT Acquisition Process and thereby assuring critical mission elements that are highly dependent on IT (Info Sharing, Cyber-Security, E-Health, E-Gov/E-Biz, Green IT). The President’s FY 2009 Budget documents

    $71Billion in funding for federal IT investments, not including the Intelligence Community budget estimated at $26B or imbedded IT systems comprising another $80B.

    1) CHANGE: IT Acquisitions (excluding Weapon Systems imbedded IT), drives very different architecture and acquisition approaches, cultures and processes, requiring an adaptation needed to drive change and manage risk.


    2) LEADERSHIP: IT is a transformational technology, that creates more distracters than advocates, it requires much greater Leadership support, accountability, and authority to be effective. This was the intent of the Clinger Cohen Act. Good policy, poor implementation. Leadership must be engaged, and drive cultural, process and technology changes. 3) OVERSIGHT: Congress and Agency leadership must codify and re-certify program vision, architecture and outcomes through the entire lifecycle, especially when leadership/PM changes occur. Senior leadership attention and commitment to success must come from the top and be driven all the way down to every stake holder and value chain partner.

    4) WORKFORCE: IT requires additional disciplines and skills often not present. The work force must be bolstered in a significant way, ensuring qualified and EXPERIENCED staff who are encouraged to understand the technology domains they are supporting. FAI, DAU and NDU should build out their current programs to not only train, but mentor Acquisition PMs to make sure they are vested in the success of the program. Failure risk mitigation must trump process rigidity.

    5) ARCHITECTURE & METRICS: PMs must solidify, validate and propagate an

    actionable/measurable Solution Architecture that freezing requirements and measurable outcomes. Vague requirements and statements of objectives do not work for IT. Every stake holder and value chain participant should sign off on the required interfaces, business process changes and willingness to live with the 80% solutions. An architecture without Performance Metrics and SLAs will not survive.

    6) ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES: With so many participants involved in an IT program, agency acquisition strategy must clarify roles and responsibilities of all participants, seeking to optimize contributions and buy in from the entire value chain. This includes "contracts" with users, overseers, CIOs, CMOs, CPOs, Congress, standards bodies, FFRDCs, non-profits, COTS/Open Source developers and Systems Integrators. Entry/Exit criteria must be established up front to set expectations and time lines.

    The goal is to provide decision makers within white house, congressional and agency leadership in revamping IT Acquisition policies and processes required to ensure the effectiveness, timeliness and transparency of its estimated $177B investments. If properly applied, this effort could effect a major economic stimulus for one of the nations greatest industries. An actionable IT reform roadmap would improve effectiveness and reduce the failure rate of major IT programs and the critical missions they support. The IT-AAC and its membership offer the administration a conflict free structure, body of knowledge, expertise and analytical mechanisms needed to enable sound decisions on critical issues confronting our national leadership.

    The IT-AAC builds on the Interoperability ClearingHouse public/private partnership structure, seasoned thought leaders, and significant body of knowledge associated with 8 years of root cause analysis. The IT-AAC leadership recognizes the increased role technology plays in furthering our nation’s defense, intelligence, healthcare and e-government missions, and brings

    forth the knowledge and experience needed to make transformational decisions on policies, processes and investments.


To avoid “reinventing the wheel” the IT-AAC is aggregating existing study efforts and

    communities of practice needed to tap into our Nation’s most experienced and respected experts

    on IT Acquisition Reform. To support this effort, the Interoperability Clearinghouse (ICH) has assembled a significant body of knowledge in the form of Best Practices, Industry Study Groups, Blue Ribbon panels, GAO reports, Public Interest Consortia and other objective sources to better enable effective policy decision making. The resulting emergent public/private partnership will provide our national leadership with collaborative structure, reusable solution frameworks and validated sources not available from traditional contracting mechanisms. The IT-AAC will focus on the changes needed in current acquisition policies, processes and collaborative structures by the fast-paced Information Technology market. We can no longer depend on failed approaches that take too long and cost too much. Furthermore, the federal agencies are experiencing unacceptable IT program failure rates (72-80%) costing the tax payer tens of billion per year and impeding the delivery of mission critical IT capabilities (not including the Intel Agency budget which is estimated to add another $5B to the problem).

This effort also aligns with the administration’s commitment to “Invest in the Nonprofit Sector

    ; “Create a Social Investment Fund Network: Use federal seed money to leverage

    private sector funding to improve local innovation, test the impact of new ideas,

    and expand successful programs to scale.

    ; Social Entrepreneurship Agency for Nonprofits: Create an agency within the

    Corporation for National and Community Service dedicated to building the

    capacity and effectiveness of the nonprofit sector.

Additional details and meeting schedules will be posted at and

    CONOPS: The IT-AAC will operate in the public interest, as a public/private partnership “think tank” (following E-Gov Act operational guidelines), pooling resources and expertise drawn from multiple government and industry communities of practice. As the ICH has its partners have been deeply involved in IT Acquisition reform efforts, it will bring to light documented gaps and root cause analysis already performed, and put into an operational context.

    It will establish a 500 Day IT Transformation Plan that will identify IT Acquisition process gaps, standards of practice, cultural impediments, and policy impediments that have impeded prior reforms efforts. By applying the Scientific Methods and Evidence Based Research, our leadership will be assured maximum transparency and objectivity in making decisions that that will empower effective governance and technology leadership required to improve IT Acquisitions and mission outcomes. The IT-AAC will offer the new administration with a unique collaborative structure focused on overcoming policy, process and cultural impediments to IT implementation success, recognizing that “we cannot solve today’s problems with the same

    kind of thinking that got us their in the first place”.

    Purpose - To inform the administration leadership and career leaders on the specific challenges agencies face in executing existing IT policy and agency mission objectives. Offer potential


    solutions for a way ahead in the form of an implementation roadmap, gap analysis, and leading practices that have already demonstrated to be effective.

    Method - through analysis of existing studies and use cases by an experienced panel, determine the critical areas requiring immediate attention that identify interdependencies and establish contextual framework. Form focused work groups to make specific recommendations regarding challenge areas and offer a framework for a long range national IT strategy via a 500 day plan.

    Root Cause Analysis The ICH has participated and/or assembled dozens of studies on IT Acquisition failure patterns with many of the federal agencies including Office of the Secretary of Defense, AF, Navy, Army, DHS, GSA, PTO, GPO, GAO and the Intelligence Community. Additional studies produced by Defense Science Board, AF Science Advisory Board, DAPA, Markle Foundation, CSIS, CIO Council, Industry Advisory Council, NDIA, RAND, and NCOIC has been analyzed and repurposed for the IT-AAC leadership, providing the administration with a clearinghouse of knowledge and expertise needed to effect much needed acquisition reform decisions.

    Senior Leadership Board - will be comprised of thought leaders from multiple communities of practice. Selection will be based on prior contributions to public service and commitments to transparency. Individuals representing primary suppliers to the Federal government will be limited so as to avoid any appearance of conflicts of interest. Those selected from primary federal suppliers will be asked to fire wall their activities from their respective company interests.

Operational Activities will include;

    ; Leadership Committees that pull from the IT-AAC diverse membership that will tackle

    key policy challenges.

    ; Focused Working Groups that will leverage existing bodies of knowledge and repurpose

    to provide administration leadership with actionable plans and roadmaps

    ; IT Acquisition Educational Forums (E-HealthCare, Information Sharing, Cyber Security,

    etc). These will follow the very successful Secure E-Business conference structure

    established by OSD C3I during the 2000-2003 period. Forums will expose best practices

    and lessons learned for the IT acquisition community. Collaborate with universities (ie;

    CMU SEI, DAU/NDU, UofMD, UVA, GMU, etc).

    ; Solution Architecture Integration Lab (SAIL) where innovations of the market can be

    quickly explored, validated and exposed in an open and conflict free forum to support

    innovation research pilots and better inform IT program lifecycle; visit for detailed approach, OMB recommendations and industry

    white papers.

    IT-AAC Outcomes: The ICH, under oversight of the IT-AAC leadership, will identify and leverage collaborative mechanisms, work products, root cause analysis reports, governance structures and contract vehicles already in place, providing both public/private partners with an array of mechanisms needed to guide measurable improvement in policies and programs. The IT-AAC will provide federal IT Leadership with 500 Day plan establishes specific decision milestones that;

    - Identify policy shortfalls and overlaps.


    - Help Streamlined IT Acquisition Process and establish separate swim lanes based on

    proven approaches already applied by forward thinking agencies and public interest


    - Improve information sharing and coloration mechanisms that leverage existing

    innovations and proven IT capabilities needed fror critical mission capabilities

    - Significantly improve the effectiveness, efficiency and transparency of federal IT

    investments, assuring the maximum use of US IT innovations. Today, most innovators

    are locked out of the Federal IT Acquisition processes.

    - Help establish IT Acquisition standards of practice,

    - Established Educational forums with existing universities for the Acquisition Community

    where best practices and lessons learned can be shared and leveraged.

    - Reduce lifecycle costs of acquiring new IT and sustaining legacy IT, avoiding failed IT

    acquisitions, potentially saving an estimated $15 Billion per year.

    - Enable acquisition of IT using a Services Oriented Architecture with measurable


    - Provide government leadership with a research coop where innovations of the market can

    be readily assessed and leveraged.

    Policies alone have not been effective, and often had an opposite effect. This is why the IT-AAC will build on the ICH’s non-profit research institute structure, providing stake holders with necessary tools to enable sound decision making;

    - Decision Support Reports and Roadmaps

    - Reusable Solution Architecture Frameworks

    - Analytical and Advisory Services (cost recovery model)

    - Senior Leadership Working Groups

    - Acquisition Peer Reviews

    - Domain specific CxO Summits and Town Hall Meetings

    Domain Working Groups; identify key mission areas that are highly dependent on an agile acquisition process to perform their mission objectives. Due to the critical importance of successful IT Acquisition to our country’s mission objectives, this committee will address

    domain specific impediments and opportunities that should be addressed in terms of culture, policies, procedures and partnerships needed to assure implementation success. Key mission areas that would benefit from this public/private partnership structure include; ; Healthcare; focus on standardized patient record for independent system interoperable

    information exchange

    ; Cyber Security; collaborative research and assessment technologies that improved non-

    repudiation, information integrity or trusted information environments

    ; Interoperable Information Sharing; overcoming cultural impediments and improved

    comprehensive analytic opportunities. Identify approaches and emerging approaches that

    have been effective.

    ; Business Systems; truly leveraging industry best practices associated with architectures,

    acquisitions and assessments, recognizing that legacy acquisition processes have not been


    effective, and often violate existing policies directing agencies to apply industry best

    practices and emerging standards.

    ; Shared IT Infrastructure; eliminating redundant application infrastructure by establishing a

    common set of infrastructure services within a SOA governance model.

    ; E-Government; putting teeth in the E-Gov Act. Re-invigorating CIO Council activities that

    drive true sharing of proven solutions. Improve use of public/private partnerships to leverage

    untapped resources and lessons the burden on government.

    Periodic out briefs to the public will be coordinated with the both political appointees and agency leadership through Town Hall meetings and forums. Public reports and briefings will be posted at

    IT-AAC Leadership: The following council leadership has been assembled based on prior contributions and public service contributions made towards improving government IT acquisition process (a criteria for membership). The IT-AAC recognizes the need to cut across communities of practice and represent the best and brightest in their respective fields of expertise to provide an objective and balance advisory.

    Recognizing the limited bandwidth and significant demands on their time, every effort will be made to extract from previous contributions, forums and prior recommendations. Executive Advisory Board (confirming in bold, invited in non-bold) excluding active government executives (out of respect for the current administration):

    o Honorable Michael Wynn, former Secretary of USAF, IT-AAC Chair

    o Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist, Google

    o Honorable Dave Patterson, former OSD Comptroller, University Of Tennessee

    o Harold Heard, Former Sr. VP, Enterprise Architecture/SOA, Citigroup

    o Honorable Dave Oliver, former OSD ATL, EADS

    o Karen Evans, former OMB E-Gov Administrator

    o Honorable Robert Cresanti, former Secretary of Technology, SAP America

    o Jonathan Breul, IBM Business of Government

    o Gen (ret) Bill Campbell, Former Army G6 CIO, BAE Systems

    o Lt General (ret) Jack Woodward USAF, former AF Deputy CIO

    o Chuck Corjay, Sr VP CACI, President, AFCEA NOVA Chapter

    o Dr. Marv Langston, former OSD C3I DCIO, former Navy CIO

    o Dr. Jerry Mechling, Director of E-Gov Education, Harvard KSG,

    o James Lewis, Director Policy, CSIS

    o Steve Cooper, Partner, First DHS CIO, Strativest

    o Kevin Carroll, former Army PEO EIS, ICH Fellow, IT-AAC Vice Chair

    o Larry Allen, Executive Director, Coalition for Government Procurement

    o Charles Tompkins Esq., Chair Systems Management Dept, NDU IRMC

    o Stephen Buckley, Kerberos Consortia, MIT Sloan

    o Al Mink, Vice President SRA

    o Edward Hammersla, EVP Trusted Computing Solutions

    o Frank Weber, former AF ESC 554 Wing Commander


    o William Lucyshyn, Director of Research, School of Public Policy, U of MD o Dan Johnson, Sr. Council, Computers & Communications Industry Association o Lewis Shepherd, former DIA CTO, Microsoft Institute

    o Frank Cooper, VP/CTO, Concurrent Technology Corp

    o John Weiler, Director, Interoperability Clearinghouse, IT-AAC Vice Chair o Dr. Robert Childs, Director, IRM College, NDU IRMC

    o Dr. Paul Nielsen, former AF Major General, CEO, Software Engineering


    o Alan Balutis, Director Internet Solutions Group, Cisco Systems o Kirk Phillips, Managing Partner, The Kirk Group

    o Paul Brubaker, Senior Director, Cisco Systems

     Invited Government Advisory Panel

    o James (Raleigh) Durham, Director, Joint Advanced Concepts, OSD ATL o Keith Seaman, Component Acquisition Executive, Business Transformation


    o Dave Weddell, Deputy N6/CIO, Navy

    o Jan Frye, Chief Acquisition Officer, Veterans Administration o Chris Miller, Executive Director, PEO C4I, Navy

    o Bill McKinsey, Chief IT Management, FBI

    o John Whitmore, Deputy AQI, Secretary of the AF

    o Terry Balven, CIO, AQ, Secretary of the AF

     Tracy Tynan, Director Acquisition Center of Excellence, BTA o

    o Tim Harp, Deputy Asst Secretary Acquisition, OSD NII

    o Tyree Varnado, Deputy Director, Acquisition, GSA

    o Tommy Morris, Director Developmental Technologies, OSD Health Affairs o MaryAnne Rochy, Deputy CIO and PEO Acquisition, OSD Health Affairs o David Schroeder, Director External Relations, OSD HA CIO o Gino Magnifico, CIO, Army Contracting Command

    o Stewart Whitehead, SES J8, Joint Forces Command

    o Dr Paul Tibbits, Deputy CIO and Director Enterprise Development, VA o Dave Green, CTO, US Marine Corps

    o Barry Robella, Professor of Systems Engineering, Defense Acquisition


    o Jake Haynes, Program Manager, Defense Contracting Management Agency o Dr Gary Federici, Deputy Asst Secretary of the Navy, C4I o Terri Everett, Chief Procurement Officer, Director for National Intelligence o Kevin Smith, Deputy Chief of Engineering, ASD RDA

    o Kathy Laymon, Supply Chain Risk Mgt, US Army

    o John Higbee, Director Acquisition Management, Department of Homeland


    o Maureen Coyle, Deputy CIO, VA

    o Brad Brown, Director of Acquisition Policy, Defense Acquisition University o John Whitmore, Deputy Director, AF Acquisition, SAF/AQI o LtGen Jeffrey Sorenson, CIO, US Army G6


    o Dr. Ed Siomacco, Director Enterprise Services, Army NETCOM

    o Julius Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology, FCC

    o Bobby German, CIO, NASA

    o Margie Graves, Acting CIO, Dept of Homeland Security

    Government members will not be asked to contribute to any recommendations.

Assessing the Problem, leveraging existing sources of evidence

    " There is broad agreement on the need for acquisition and contracting reform in the Department of Defense. There have been enough studies. Enough hand-wringing. Enough rhetoric. Now is the time for action. "

    With growing GOA and DoD IG evidence pointing to common failure patterns in federal architecture and acquisition of IT systems going back to 1990s, the Interoperability Clearinghouse (ICH) and has focused its efforts in identification of the root causes of these failures and establish mechanisms that enable fact based decision making at each stage of the IT architecture and acquisition lifecycle. Following a Lean Six Sigma approach to process transformation, ICH has incorporated lessons learned and failure points identified in Blue Ribbon panels, GAO reports, DoD IG Audits, and other objective sources that point to a pattern of failure in both DoD’s acquisition lifecycle and performance assessment collection mechanism.

    Numerous blue ribbon panels have identified these root causes of failure and recommended means of implementing major policy initiative like Clinger-Cohen, President’s Management

    Agenda and most recently, OMB’s FEA-PMO. Those studies already identified include but not

    limited to;

    ; 1997 Clinger-Cohen Act: Required commercial best practices and use of commercial IT

    offering as the 80% solution (COTS).

    ; June 1999, Electronic Commerce Conference Working Group report on Software Quality

    and Interoperability. It recommends that DoD change its architecture methods (C4ISR)

    to make them more inline with commercial standards and best practices. These

    recommendations led to the creation of an Interoperability Clearinghouse public/private


    ; April 2000, AF Science Advisory Board Report on “Challenges of inserting commercial

    items into missions systems”. This report strongly encourages DoD to establish a

    clearinghouse of commercial best practice to help DOD PMs avoid common pitfalls.

    This report is posted at

    ; September 2002 NDIA-SEC report on “Information Systems Interoperability”. It

    recommends creating verifiable interoperability standards around commercial

    technologies and standards such that DoD IT leaders can review and evaluate viability of

    a system and its components BEFORE contract award.

    ; February 2003, Industry Advisory Council Enterprise Architecture Special Interest Group,

    an industry group that advises OMB and the Federal CIO Council on how to achieve

    better implementation of the President’s Management Council. These OMB approved

    recommendations encourage government to update current architecture processes and


    technology evaluation metrics. This report and others are posted at

    ; March 2003, Carnegie Mellon SEI report on “An Assessment of DoD’s Architecture

    Framework.” Again it details inherent limitations of DoD’s “one size fits all” architecture

    methodology and recommends adoption of commercial standards and best practices. This

    too is posted on ICH’s main web page.

    ; January 2006 Defense Acquisition Performance Assessment (DAPA) Report coordinated

    by Mr. Dave Patterson, former OSD Comptroller.

    ; April 2009 Defense Science Board report on IT Acquisition

    ; May 2009 Center for Defense Information, America's Defense Meltdown, http://www.d-

    ; IAC/ACT report on IT Acquisition

    ; GAO Report on Navy ERP

    When looking at the cultural impediments to change, one might reflect on the advice and observations of Nicolai Machiavelli, in 1513 AD, “Nothing is more difficult than to introduce

    new order. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions and lukewarm defenders in those who only may do well under the new”.


     ITAAC WEBSITE: ITAcquisitionAdvisoryCouncilCharter.doc


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