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US puts $30bn of IT projects up for review

The stimulus and the stick

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President Obama giveth to the IT vendor community in the United States, and now maybe he is fixing to taketh away.

Back in February 2009, when the new president was able to get the $787bn American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) through Congress to help get the US economy spending like the economic meltdown wasn't real back on track, over $100bn of that spending would end up in the pockets of the technology sector.

In June of this year, with the stimulus party over, President Obama's Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, put about $3bn of IT projects on hold as they were reviewed for delays and cost overruns. Last week, Federal Computing Week reported that the Kundra has compiled a list of "high-risk" IT projects that are over budget, behind schedule, or have veered off course. Kundra was speaking at the NASA IT Summit in Maryland when he mentioned the IT hit list.

This morning, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the hit list of 26 federal IT projects has a combined value of $30bn, according to the Office of Management and Budget. This includes a $2.8bn computer and telecommunications network for the Treasury Department, a $2bn logistics system for the Air Force, a $7.6bn data center consolidation project for the Department of the Interior, and a $557m case management system called Sentinel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Instead of killing the projects, Kundra and his team are trying to figure out how to make projects more bite-sized, manageable, and accountable.

"Each of these projects can be scoped in smaller chunks," Vivek told the Journal. "We've overcomplicated how we buy technology in the federal government."

Kundra came to the Federal CIO job in March 2009 after running the IT operations of the city of Washington DC. He is keen on making Uncle Sam use as much shared, cloudy infrastructure as is practical and to make the $80bn a year that the US government spends on IT go further and move faster. ®

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