Beyond policies, procedures and technologies, there’s a cultural side to asset management too.
FITARA also increased the power of CIOs — limiting each agency to one CIO and making that person responsible for the success and failure of all IT investments.
USDA leverages the CIO Council to support its CIO’s efforts across the infrastructure; its members include agency IT leaders whose CIO titles changed under the new rule.
“We try to ensure the council is up to date with all the things the CIO is doing in terms of hardware, software, infrastructure and telecommunications; they have an opportunity to weigh in,” Anderson says. “And when there are concerns, such as procurement activities for hardware and software, that is discussed, and they have an opportunity to express their support or concern.”
Collaboration and culture change are also key to how the IRS manages its IT projects, from developing quality apps to asset management, says Mona Henby, director of the Web Applications Program Management Office.
A new Agile Collaboration Center leans on iterative development to create working software faster and more frequently than traditional waterfall-style projects. It also emphasizes face-to-face collaboration to improve project transparency and shift resources quickly based on changing business priorities.
Asset Management Tools Help in Different Environments
Teams of developers and testers, with business and security experts, work on products together in the same room, using test-driven development approaches to identify errors before deployment and increase software quality over time. With multiple environments, cooperation is critical.
“We have an asset management tool for different environments,” Henby says. “We have a test environment, a development environment and a performance environment. We use another asset management tool as we move through the different environments from our operations organization.” HP Asset Manager and the Symantec Management Platform support that.
“We need to be mindful of implications as we’re moving through environments. We’ve gotten very good at it,” she adds. “We’ve tried to create tools and automation around scripting to ensure that as it goes through the environment, it stays up to the latest version of software and tooling.”
Agencies have begun to share information, looking for ways to boost FITARA scores. USDA, as the government’s first participant in the Centers of Excellence IT modernization program, has become a stopping point for agencies that want advice. Anderson posts procedures and processes online, and often fields calls from counterparts asking for advice. Some agencies meet every other Friday to discuss challenges.
“We try to share ideas and information. That’s been very helpful for us. Hopefully, it’s helpful for them too.”