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Forest Service Decentralized After Centralizing IT

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The Forest Service centralized IT in the early 2000s in an effort to streamline and reduce cost of IT operations, but the resulting self-service approach at field units led to IT trouble-shooting decentralization, according to a Government Accountability Office report published Aug. 25.

Instead of relying on a local field unit-based technician for assistance with computer problems, workers are expected to seek self-help tools, the report says. The report indicates that centralized IT systems are not necessarily user-friendly, causing field-unit employees to ignore computer problems since the help-desk process was too lengthy.

This has resulted in a decrease in time spent on mission work, increased reliance on workarounds and increased frustration.

“Because staff might do such tasks infrequently, and because the processes or procedures for carrying them out may change often, field unit employees told us they must spend time relearning how to perform certain tasks every time they carry them out,” the report said.

The study urges the need to re-examine the centralization approach and to better document associated costs.

Click here to read the full report.

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