In the past three years, new directives
pushed down from the executive branch
have infused the federal government with
meaningful business practices and have
invigorated teams to seek out cross-agency
collaboration. Some of these directives are
truly new, while others put a business-savvy
twist on existing processes. The business case
is a prime example.
Federal IT leaders and program managers
have always had to submit a business case to
get a major project going. In the past, more
often than not, technology projects met the
pressing needs of the day on an ad hoc basis,
rather than evolving from a measured review
of current and anticipated enterprisewide goals. Today, however, to get full
funding from Uncle Sam, the Office of Management and Budget's Exhibit 300
requires a deep investigation into the project's outcomes, management process
and performance measures, while also insisting that project managers examine
Take a look at two key IT initiatives implemented under OMB's new guidelinesÂGrants.gov and USA Services' FirstGov.govÂto see the difference strategic planning
makes. A well-defined business case ensured that both projects would realize their
goals of providing enhanced support to agency stakeholders and customers.
Charles Havekost, CIO of the Department of Health and Human Services, says
defining the risks, costs and potential value of the Grants.gov portal was the starting
point for building the business case that set the project in motion. As one of the
federal grant portal's program managers, he'd know. According to Havekost, in
addition to contributing to stakeholder alignment, that process also enabled
Grants.gov's architects to distill a complex, ambitious task into a bumper sticker-size
rallying cry: "Find and apply." You can find the details of how they did it on page 30.
It may sound simple, but delivering simplicity in the complex world of federal
government IT is never easy. Yet somehow, program managers inside government are
finding that strategic planning makes successful project delivery much easier.
Our columns tackle three critical workforce issues: keeping the troops motivated
in the midst of change, assessing performance and responding to customer needs. On
page 14, GSA's Administrator Stephen Perry describes how a morale-boosting project
evolved into an overarching process that makes it easier for the agency to service its
customers, while also preserving the intellectual capital of its workforce.
On page 10, Paul Wohlleben, a former CIO at the GSA, deals with another
concern of many federal CIOsÂgetting the information needed to fully inform
decision-making. Finally, on page 12, CDWÂ·G's Jim Shanks talks about the graying
of the federal workforce and shares tactical steps that could make a big impact.
There aren't any easy-to-come-by solutions. But the great by-product of
examining these challenges is that better questions and better answers are emerging.
Editor in Chief