Procurement Forum Highlights Gains and Strains in Federal IT
The General Services Administration's decision to abandon a 50-year old conference franchise, known as IRMCO, in favor of a new one-day symposium dedicated to advancing acquisition, proved to be a winning move for GSA Thursday and a step forward for the acquisition community.
But IT departments bent on developing specialized systems need to take some responsibility for challenges faced by today's acquisition teams, said Kshemendra Paul, program manager, Information Sharing Environment in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He stressed the benefits of moving toward a standards-based approach to IT, which would also streamline procurements.
"There are two things that drive 80% of the risk and 60% of cost of big IT systems," he said. "It's the legacy point-to-point interfaces...and the homegrown identity management systems."
He noted how a standards-based approach helped local law enforcement agencies participate in the FBI's National Data Exchange system, by lowering the set up costs from $250,000 to as little as $10,000.
Paul also challenged the tendency in government to avoid crossing appropriation streams, recalling a popular line from the movie "Ghostbusters," where the lead agents would warn one another "never to cross the streams" from their proton packs. But, he said, "If we don't open our eyes and look up, we're condemned to stay in the stovepipes," he warned.