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Interior IT transformation funding cut in half by House Appropriations

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House appropriators voted July 12 to halve an Interior Department request for $5 million to spend on information technology modernization.

They also voted during a markup of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill for the coming fiscal year to halve the department's $5 million spending request for an effort to identify operating efficiencies through the consolidation of services, facilities and infrastructure--and completely deny a $5 million request for acquisition workforce training, recruitment and hiring.

Interior embarked late last year on an IT transformation effort, kicked off when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued an order giving the headquarters chief information officer oversight, management, ownership and control of all departmental IT infrastructure.

The department on July 7 released a IT strategic plan for the next four years; the plan asserts that transformation will create cost avoidances of $100 million a year from fiscal 2016 through 2020.

The plan envisions a three-phase rollout, the first being development of the strategy and building of initial capability. Thereafter, the department will execute changes such as having DOI components buy IT infrastructure services through the DOI CIO's office via a "service catalog" priced according to factors such as feature depth and level of support, the strategy says.

CIO-led infrastructure services will be bound by service level agreements with components, the plan adds. Transformation will affect IT services such as messaging, telecommunications, web hosting and workplace computing but will not include mission-specific applications, the strategy states.

"The status quo is not working: 14 separate email systems, varied levels of different networks, the inability to share support services, and the fact that employees cannot easily work from different locations has placed them at a disadvantage," the strategy says.

The House Appropriations Committee's markup now must undergo consideration by the full House of Representatives and eventual reconciliation with a Senate version, which has yet to be written by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

For more:

- download a report accompanying the House Appropriation Committee markup of the fiscal 2012 Interior appropriations bill (.pdf)
- download the bill language (.pdf)
- see a press release about the vote
- download the Interior IT Transformation Strategic Plan (.pdf)
- read a blog post by Ken Salazar on the plan

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