DHS perseveres with TASC

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The Homeland Security Department has selected Arlington, Va.-based CACI to implement a controversial enterprise planning resource system.

The contract for the department's Transformation and Systems Consolidation effort is worth up to $450 million over five years and possibly another five after that, with renewal options cropping up every year. DHS will implement TASC first within the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to DHS spokesman Larry Orluskie. Implementation thereafter will occur at other components that have "an identified critical business need."  

The Nov. 19 TASC award came the same day as the Office of Management and Budget announced the results of a five-month effort to review 20 agency major financial management system modernizations. In a June 28 memo, OMB told agencies to halt work on those projects until OMB could review them.

Jeff Zients, OMB's deputy director for management, said in a Nov. 19 speech that OMB reviews--preliminary news of which have periodically trickled out--found that 10 projects were on track, five required a reduction in scope, three were "accelerated" and two were terminated, resulting in savings of $1.6 billion.

Specifically, according to an OMB blog post, the review has resulted in:

  • Cancellation of efforts at the Veterans Affairs Department and Small Business Administration for cost savings (or, presumably, avoidance) of $500 million; and
  • Revised scope of projects at the Homeland Security Department, Justice Department, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency, for savings of almost $910 million.

Testifying earlier this year, DHS's second highest official said that DHS had "right sized" TASC and would adopt "a more risk-based approach" to the ERP.

Two members of the House Homeland Security Committee--which will undergo a change of party leadership come Jan. 3, 2011--released statements Nov. 23 with a tone of apparent resignation over the CACI contract.

"I am pleased that the Office of Management and Budget directed the department to phase-in TASC implementation until there is a better strategy in place," said Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.), chairman of the management, investigations and oversight subcommittee.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said the contract award did not "alleviate my concern regarding the cost of TASC and whether the department will place too much reliance on outside contractors to meet its needs."

"Rest assured," he added, "I will continue the aggressive oversight of TASC I have maintained over the past few years."

For more:
- listen to OMB's Jeffrey Zients deliver a Nov. 19 speech about changes to IT management
- read OMB's blog post about the review
- listen to Sept. 15 OMB press call on the financial system modernization project review
- go to a statement from House Homeland Security members about the TASC contract

Related Articles:
DHS ERP under more pressure from House Homeland Security
OMB's new approach to agency financial modernization lacks strategy, says GAO
OMB claims two cancellations, two re-scopings in financial management IT reviews