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DHS CIO Spires: IT Reform Has Helped ‘Unite’ Decentralized Department

DHS CIO Richard Spires, Photo: CIO.gov

Far from imposing another layer of bureaucratic IT chaos onto the Department of Homeland Security, the agency’s chief information officer says the ambitious 25-point federal IT reform plan has actually helped further “unite a largely decentralized agency into one.”

Writing on CIO.gov, DHS CIO Richard Spires said the agency had made “substantial progress” on several key points of the 25-point plan, which was launched six months ago.

The IT reform, which included the much talked-about “cloud-first” initiative, has been a key policy priority of federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra.

Spires said, along with cloud-computing efforts, the agency has made progress in closing some of its data centers, improving program governance and strengthening program management.

Some specifics:

Data center consolidation

  • “Represents one of several departmentwide transitions designed to develop, implement and manage cross-organizational efforts while promoting green IT, reducing costs and increasing the overall IT security posture of the government,” Spires said.
  • So far, DHS is working on consolidating 43 legacy data centers, with one already close and 40 more expected to close by the end of fiscal year 2014.

Cloud computing

  • “Our transition to a cloud-first policy also continues to advance,” Spires said.
  • DHS launched E-Verify Self Check in March 2011 as a free, web-based application that allows users to check employment eligibility. The pilot project leverages public-cloud capabilities and will be available nationwide within the next year.
  • In March, DHS also became the first to leverage GSA’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering to expedite and facilitate movement of DHS publicly-facing websites to a public cloud, Spires said.



  • Spires said DHS has “transformed and improved” its current IT review programs by adopting the TechStat model.
  • “As a result of this TechStat, we improved the department’s acquisition strategy to support modular development, engaged agency leadership, assigned dedicated resources throughout the program’s lifecycle” and accountability, Spires said.

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