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VA Claims Success in Reforming IT Spending, Pentagon Just Getting Started

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Agencies are refocusing their efforts and better deciding where to invest information technology dollars.

Some, like the Department of Veterans Affairs, can already claim a success story in their strategy, while others, like the Defense Department, are still trying to lay out the plan.

VA is already a work in progress in determining how to best manage and spend on IT projects, according to a Federal News Radio report. The department started its Performance Management and Accountability System in 2009 and now has hit nine out of 10 IT projects on time, according to the report.

In trying to get the maximum out of every dollar spent, the VA stalls projects that aren’t producing new capabilities, has put a more dynamic model to use in allocating funds and tasks individuals to multiple tasks instead of one project at a time, said the report.

While it seems VA is well on its way, the Defense Department is now facing the same IT challenge on a much larger scale. InformationWeek reports that the agency is facing billions in budget cuts, tasking the agency with deciding where to invest in order to save money without compromising IT applications or infrastructure.

The agency has a full $38.4 billion IT budget in fiscal 2012, according to the report, which is is facing threats of cuts over the next few years. In response, the agency has introduced a roadmap of sorts that includes aims to replace the military’s branch-specific systems and networks to create a more capable enterprise model, said the report.

InformationWeek reported that Teri Takai, the Pentagon’s CIO, said in an interview that the strategy goes beyond efficiencies for cost savings. The 26-initiative plan will be implemented over the next 10 years and includes best practices from the private sector as models.

The Pentagon plan, which changes policies and culture norms in the agency, identifies networking, user, application and data services, business processes and computing services as focal points, said the report.

With the plan comes benchmarks: 30 percent reduction in servers and $3.5 billion savings over fiver years. The IT Enterprise Strategy is step one and will serve to identify work to be done in fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

The Pentagon’s plan is not a far throw from what the VA has seen success in already with its PMAS approach, which now applies to all technology development projects, according to Federal News Radio.

Roger Baker, the VA CIO, described the VA plan as a culture change, according to the report. He also commented on the program’s success saying, “we’re giving ourselves our own budget increase by just spending the dollars better.”

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