Here at Deltek we have seen some interesting impacts to the US Federal Budget cuts. Probably the most obvious is the impact on US Federal agency IT programs. Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said he has started new accountability sessions with department officials to assess their information technology projects.
In these sessions, called TechStat meetings, Mr. Kundra intends to delve deep into departments’ IT projects to check on whether the projects are working as planned (http://gcn.com/articles/2010/02/09/techstat-meetings-kundra.aspx)
This suggests that each CIO needs to be prepared to answer questions on the progress of their programs. How better to answer those questions than if they have EVM data?
There are a few agencies that are using EVM data both for management of internal work as well as contractor work. Department of Transportation and Department of Energy come to mind. They should both be in good shape in one of those reviews.
I do want to reiterate for those without a lot of experience with EVM, that this is not a panacea for a bad project. EVM is only a tool or best practice. There are no guarantees only that if both the performer and the customer share accurate project information, the best solution can be found before it is too late.
If you haven’t seent the US Federal IT Dashbaord, check it out, http://it.usaspending.gov/ This was just started in June 2009, so it is new and not fully developed.
What this does is show you how the 25 largest US fedral agencies are doing on managing their IT projects. This is US tax dollars at work. The problem is the amount of time it takes to input the monthly update. There is no automated system to do this. That means that it is done manually. I have heard agencies take from 30 minutes to 2 weeks to update this data. As a consequence of it taking so much time, the data is not always updated completely.
Deltek has been working on a modification to the COTS analysis tool called wInsight to automate the update process. That modification to wInsight is being tested currently and should be available shortly to any agency (wInsight is on the GSA schedule). The funny part is that most agencies already own wInsight. So as soon as the modification is available, they can get it as part of their maintenance agreement.
If you look at the IT Dashboard site, it says that it will be using EV data shortly. It is using ‘best guess’ data today. One reason why the data is in question. Since wIsight can read data from any commercial EVM system, MS Project or an Excel spreasheet, it becomes the obvious choice to use for collecting the data and automatically updating the IT Dashboard.
I think this dashboard is terrific. I think we should see more of this kind of information on the web. I hope that we see this concept expanded to include all major projects. What do you think?
I just finished presenting a 2 day Potomac Forum seminar on EVM in Government with Buddy Everage of MCR (http://www.potomacforum.org/?view=319). There were several civilian federal agencies and a few contractors in the class. What I am seeing is a progressive interest in EVM by the federal agencies. One of the reasons is the new Federal IT Dashboard (http://it.usaspending.gov/).
One this site, the major agency IT projects are posted with the project status. Drilling into an agency shows the CIO picture, name, email address and phone number. It also shows all the contractors on the project and their performance. But I see a problem. The data is manually updated. The data comes from the OMB 300 form.
So to do this, people in the agency manually update the form and manually re-enter the data into the IT website. It should use EV data but is not at this time; although it is planned to be used in the future.
Anyone who is using any recent version of EVM software knows that it will export the project EV data in a standard electronic format called the UN/CEFACT XML (DOD requires this on all ACAT 1 projects). Even if you are using an older version of the software, it probably can feed wInsight and wInsight can put out the XML. If you are not familiar with wInsight, it is used by 95% of all federal agencies that evaluate the EVM data reported via the CPR (Contract Perfomance Report).
If there is a standard electronic format for EV data submission, why isn’t it being used by to update the web site status?