The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the President’s budget office, helping decide where to allocate resources across the government to achieve the President’s priorities. As the name implies, it also includes a management division that promotes effective management practices across the federal government in areas such as technology, acquisition, financial management, performance and personnel management. OMB, together with the General Services Administration (GSA), which leads eGovernment efforts at the federal level, sought assistance from REI Systems in 2009 to support a series of open government and dashboard initiatives over a five year period.
In May 2009, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra shared with REI Systems his vision of a tool that could provide insight into acquisition, development and use of an IT portfolio across the entire US federal government – to account for more than $75 billion in annual IT spending. Although such a tool would primarily be intended for use by federal CIOs in overseeing IT programs and spending, Mr. Kundra insisted that the information be made visible to the public too, to provide transparency into the management of public sector IT investments and accountability for them.
No such tool existed for users to search, compare, and analyze federal IT investments across multiple agencies. Based on earlier quick and innovative work with Recovery.gov and USAspending, REI Systems was tasked to use emerging web capabilities to achieve Mr. Kundra’s vision. In fact, Mr. Kundra asked REI Systems to develop and launch the IT Dashboard within 60 days, in order to meet a commitment to Congress.
OMB, GSA and REI created the IT Dashboard with several important principals that maximize its value.
- The same data is presented for all projects in the portfolio. In this case, cost, schedule, and a qualitative rating of the system’s performance against requirements.
- Information is presented to leaders in aggregate at a summary level. This helps avoid overwhelming managers with detail
- It’s easy to spot trends and problems. Uniform, intuitive ratings (red/yellow/green speedometers combined with 1-10 scale ratings) show where attention is needed
- It’s easy to drill down – to learn more about a success, or investigate a problem
- Information is included about the past, but it is supplemented with leading indicators that help focus attention on preventing and resolving future problems
The combination of expertise from our clients (OMB and GSA), stakeholders (agencies whose data is included in the IT Dashboard and user focus groups), and REI (business advisors, software engineers and usability experts) helped launch a revolutionary tool within 45 days – exceeding the 60 day target. Not surprisingly, REI’s agile development and CMMI-3 processes have led our company’s support for federal agencies to be rated 9 or higher on the 10 point IT Dashboard scale in every case.
The IT Dashboard was launched in June 2009. Data from the tool support CIO Vivek Kundra’s leadership and accountability discussions about challenges for priority IT projects titled TechStat. In a White House blog posted on March 17, 2011, Mr. Kundra recognized success, indicating that “We have used this important tool to… cut the time in half to deliver meaningful [IT system] functionality and critical services, and reduced total budgeted [Federal government IT] costs by over $3 billion. As with most REI efforts, our clients have asked us to refine it as we operate and maintain the tool – a partnership between OMB, GSA and REI that continues today.