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Originally Broadcast July 21, 2007
Welcome to The Business of Government Hour, a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The Business of Government Hour is produced by The IBM Center for The Business of Government, which was created in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness.
You can find out more about the Center by visiting us on the web at businessofgovernment.org.
And now, The Business of Government Hour.
Mr. Morales: Good morning. I'm Albert Morales, your host, and managing partner of The IBM Center for The Business of Government.
The Department of Defense is transforming to become a netcentric force. This transformation hinges on the recognition that information is one of its greatest sources of power. Information is a strategic component of situational awareness which enables decisionmakers at all levels to make better decisions faster and act sooner.
Transforming to a networkcentric force requires fundamental change in processes, policy, and culture. Changing these areas will provide the necessary speed, accuracy, and quality of decisionmaking critical to future success.
With us this morning to discuss this critical transformation and the role of IT is our special guest, David Wennergren, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information, Management, Technology, and Deputy CIO.
Good morning, Dave.
Mr. Wennergren: Good morning, Al. It's great to be here with you.
Mr. Morales: Also joining us in our conversation is Linda Marshall, partner in IBM's defense industry practice.
Good morning, Linda.
Ms. Marshall: Good morning, Al.
Mr. Morales: Dave, perhaps you could begin by describing the mission of your office and how it supports the overall mission of the Department of Defense.
Mr. Wennergren: Absolutely. So the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer is responsible for all of the information management and information technology initiatives across the entire Department of Defense -- Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, defense agencies, a rather broad set of responsibilities. Three and a half million people deployed in rather austere conditions around the world, millions of computers, thousands and thousands of systems, hundreds of networks, about $30 billion a year IT budget. Probably about 170,000 of those 3-1/2 million people as IT professionals working in the organization.
And it's kind of fascinating to watch what's been going on, because for decades the Department of Defense, like all large organizations, has functioned very effectively as a very decentralized organization: lots of chains of commands with the thought about local organizations develop local solutions to meet local needs. But the Internet Age happened, and so now we're in a world where it makes much more sense to band together to develop enterprisewide solutions. So as the CIO team, you're in a sense responsible for charting the course, to do what we call our transformation to networkcentric operations. It's the idea about together, we could share knowledge instantaneously around the world to be more effective in our role as the national defense for our nation.
Ms. Marshall: Dave, could you please describe your specific responsibilities and duties as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information, Management, and Technology, and as the Deputy CIO?
Mr. Wennergren: Yeah, it's rather a long job title, isn't it? So I work for John Grimes, who is the Assistant Secretary of Defense and the Department of Defense CIO, and I'm his deputy. So my team is responsible for the CIO portfolio. John is responsible for all of the command and control and communication systems for the Department of Defense, in addition to having the responsibilities of the Chief Information Officer. So my team, and my job as the Deputy CIO, is to take care of the CIO portfolio for DOD.
Mr. Wennergren: Well, front and center I think on everybody's plate is this idea about information sharing; that is, the world moved away from a world of decentralized organizations, local people making local solutions for local needs. There wasn't a lot of knowledge sharing going on. But the power of netcentricity is that the right person can get the right information wherever they are. So if you're a Naval Reservist stationed with Marines in Fallujah and you need to reach back to get to an Army system to get the knowledge that you need, you'll be able to do it in a networkcentric world.
Second, and probably front and center on everybody's plate, too, no matter whether you work in government or in industry, is the information security portfolio. The threats and attacks on our networks grow by the day, and people's privacies are in jeopardy, and information that the nation needs to defend itself is at risk. And so all of us are spending a lot of time focusing on security of our network and information assurance. And what it means to take care about information security changes as again you move away from a world of local networks where security tended to focus on defending the perimeter of your local network, to a world where everything's available on the web. And so now it's about sustainability and survivability of the internet, and the global networks, and being about to find the knowledge you need, when you need it to get your job done.
And third, and a little bit more challenging because it's a little bit more esoteric, is this idea about enterprise alignment. The very big organizations in this Information Age have to learn to work together. And so there's a lot of success stories, but there still are a lot of changes that have to be worked through as we learn to work together as a single DOD team across all of the services, and with our allies and coalition partners, with the rest of the federal government, with industry and with academia. So as you adopt to enterprisewide solutions that will service everyone, you have to behave like an enterprise, you have to be willing to use somebody else' solution, to take the test results of another organization, to use a system developed by another organization, and that gets into a lot of cultural chain stuff.
Mr. Morales: Absolutely. Now Dave, you've been in the information technology business within government for some time now. Could you describe for our listeners your career path, and how did you get started?
Mr. Wennergren: I probably have a non-traditional path for a CIO kind of guy, because I didn't grow up as an IT professional. I came to work for the Department of the Navy as a civilian employee directly out of college, and had a number of different jobs. At one point in my career, I did the public-private competitions of the OMB A-76 program. I did the base closure rounds of the '90s for the Navy. I was involved after the base closure rounds with installation, management, and logistics work, where one of my jobs was to go and reorganize the bases that didn't close.
Some people say that's like running from one program of hate and discontent to another, but I am a hopeless optimist, so I like to think that they're all programs that help people deal with change. And so I think I ended up then as the Deputy CIO because I had had a career of dealing with large-scale change management issues. And I became the Deputy CIO in 1998, so it was at the time when everybody was getting pumped up about Y2K. And I was the Deputy CIO for the Navy for about four years, and then became the CIO for the Department of the Navy for four years. And then six months ago, after 26 years, I left the Department of the Navy and came to work in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as the Deputy CIO for DOD.
Mr. Morales: So you've obviously had a broad set of experiences, both on the technology side and on the business side. So I'm curious, how have these experiences prepared you for your current leadership role, and how have they informed your management approach and your current leadership style?
Mr. Wennergren: Well, the good news, I guess, is that in assessing the world from my Department of Defense perch, we're working on the right side of stuff in the Department of the Navy. Our priorities then are still my priorities now, and I think I learned a lot. In the Department of the Navy, there are two services: the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps, so there were a number of cultural change management issues in getting those organizations to work together, of which I was a big proponent, and so now I'm getting to put my money where my mouth was, because now I'm going to help the Navy and the Marine Corps and the Army and the Air Force all work together.
In a large organization that's very decentralized, as ours is, there becomes great power in the idea of team, and so a lot of the work that I've done over the course of my career is to help organizations function as effective teams. And I think that the IT workers, probably before anybody else recognized that every problem that they faced crossed traditional organizational boundaries, and so the only way to be successful is to get the right sets of people from the right sets of disciplines to work together, and even if they had disparate views to begin with, could become engaged in a common solution to get to the future.
And so oftentimes, you have to use a lot of tools -- you beg, plead, borrow, cajole -- whatever it takes to get people to begin to function outside of the comfort zone that they had to become part of a new team. The other thing I guess I would notice that having worked in the Navy for a long time for some really great leaders, is that it's really apparent to me that there is a covenant relationship, that leadership really is a covenant responsibility between you and the organization. You're here to serve the organization and the people of the organization.
When you realize that, then you understand the obligation that a manager has to create the environment where people are supported, encouraged, and challenged. And so if you get the right people in the right jobs, then great things can happen.
And that's really what being a CIO team is all about, I think.
Mr. Morales: Excellent.
What is the DOD's netcentric vision? We will ask David Wennergren, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information, Management, and Technology, and Deputy CIO, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.
Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with David Wennergren, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information, Management, and Technology, and Deputy CIO.
Also joining us in our conversation is Linda Marshall, partner in IBM's defense industry practice.
David, DoD is transforming from platformcentric to networkcentric operations. And the CIO is providing key leadership to meet this netcentric vision. Could you elaborate on DoD's netcentric vision? What are the goals of netcentric operations that are driving this transformation, and how does the recent acquisition of netcentric enterprise services fit into this overall construct?
Mr. Wennergren: Sure, absolutely. Netcentric operations, or netcentricity, is the buzzword de jure for the Department of Defense, and sometimes I think for people, it can sound a little bit jargony. I'm a relatively simple-minded guy. I like to tell the story about tinkertoys and plasma balls, because I think it gets to the heart of the matter.
In the old days, people developed point-to-point solutions, communications systems and networks, and it was much like building with tinkertoys. And I'd build one and then I'd have to connect to you, and Linda would have one and I'd connect to her, and you can begin to see that as you grow and grow in terms of nodes on the network, that interconnections become unwieldy. And so much like a tinkertoy tower that's been built too tall, it begins to crumble.
The idea of netcentricity is much more like the plasma balls that we've all seen, where energy -- or in this case, knowledge -- is in the center of the plasma ball, and wherever I touch the outside of the globe, the energy gets to me. So no matter where I am in the organization, I can plug into the global information grid, which is basically our network and data structure, and get the knowledge that I need. It's really all about the flow of knowledge and enhancing the flow of knowledge across the organization.
There was a Gartner statistic from a few years ago about how, in any large organization, public or private, about 70 percent of the knowledge of that organization lived on people's hard drives, which of course mean it wasn't really actually knowledge that you could share.
So this netcentric idea is really all about the flow of data, sharing of knowledge, and once again, knowledge management being a relatively new discipline, it begins to take on this academic aura of tacit knowledge capture and a lot of other jargons, and so we can actually simply that too, if you want. Because I'm a firm believer in the John Wayne School of Knowledge management theorem. There's a great movie clip where John Wayne's a Marine sergeant, he's talking to the young Marine and he says, "Son, life is tough. It's tougher if you're stupid."
And if you think about it, that's what knowledge management's all about. It's about the power that happens when people that work together learn together, it's what happens in the ward room or in the chief's mess on a ship when people who deploy together train together, that together we can be much smarter, much more agile, much more creative than we might be individually.
So netcentricity is really about making that happen. So it's not the sexiest thing around, but it really is all about the data. Making data visible, because the three problems I often face is I can't find it. And if I can find it, I can't access it. And if I can access it, I can't understand it. So working on those three sets of things are sort of crucial.
And you mentioned netcentric enterprise services, which is a series of core enterprise services. If you move to a netcentric world, there are some things that need to be provided by the corporation or the enterprise for the benefit of everybody, and that's what the NCES program is all about. There's no need for people to buy separate collaboration tools, federated search and discovery. We could have global directory services, we could have an enterprise portal. And so all these things that will be provided by the enterprise for the rest of the organization are what comprise the NCES program.
Mr. Morales: Now, this is likely related, but you've been quoted as saying that the world is not about separate networks. Could you elaborate a little more on what you meant by this statement?
Mr. Wennergren: That was probably a little bit more philosophical than practical, because it clearly does involve different networks now, but I think it is that idea about what does the word "enterprise" mean to you? Because different components of the Department of Defense are very big. In my Navy life, the Naval Sea Systems Command is a $30 billion a year organization. If I yank them out of the Navy and put them in the Fortune 100, they'd be way up the list. But if they're only building things that work for the Naval Sea Systems Command and the people that buy and maintain ships, they're missing the point, because the Naval Air Systems Command buys and maintains airplanes, and they're part of a broader Navy-Marine Corps team, they're part of a broader DoD team. They're part of a team with our allies and coalition partners, and on and on the list goes.
And so you have to have your mind firmly focused on -- you may be part of an individual organization, but you better be buying and building for the broader team. As a classic example, when a aircraft carrier leaves San Diego on its way to the Persian Gulf, it's got equipment and training to go do the job of being part of a carrier strike group. But halfway through the journey, they're diverted to do humanitarian relief because of a tsunami. Completely different partners, non-governmental organizations, different types of collaboration tools -- what we would call the unanticipated users. If you're not thinking about how to be connected to the rest of the world, you won't be able to be part of the network solution.
Ms. Marshall: What is the Department of Defense's data and information strategy for delivering timely, relevant, critical information to the warfighter in this new digital era, and how does this strategy seek to make data identifiable, accessible, and understandable throughout the entire enterprise?
Mr. Wennergren: It's a really exciting thing that's going on. We have a lot of folks that are working on this. Mike Krieger is one of my directors, and he's just been a true champion for change in this space. We have a netcentric data strategy, and then the corresponding directors and guides that tell you how to do it, and it focuses on what we were just talking about, about if you could make data visible, accessible and understandable, then you could share knowledge quickly.
And the way that it gets manifested is in what we call Communities of Interest, COIs. Communities of Interest are formed when people from different organizations that have a common problem or common issue get together to create a solution. There are lots of great examples of COIs. The one I thought I'd talk with you about for a moment is maritime domain awareness. So what kind of commercial vessels are out at sea? What are their crews, what are their cargos?
Interestingly, that kind of knowledge exists in databases that of course in the old days were stovepiped and owned by different organizations. So Community of Interest forums involves the Navy, the intelligence community, the Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation. And in a matter of months and a few hundred thousand dollars, instead of what we would have done in the past, when we had a penchant for saying, I've got existing legacy systems, they're not quite fitting the bill, so let's go buy the multi-gazillion dollar new system that takes year to deploy. So instead of doing that, they got together, they found the data, they used the commercial state of the art technologies like XML to make the data available to be served up, and in a few short months, everybody is able to see this information.
So whether you are the captain of the Coast Guard cutter or the Navy vessel, you're able to see the information that you need on the commercial vessels. It's fabulous and it happens really fast, and there's lots of these COIs going on. There are COIs about blue force tracking, keeping track in the battlefield of all the people that are on your team, strike missions, which are all about planning targeting but use the basic issues of what, when, and where that are equally applicable whether or not you're planning a Tomahawk missile strike or you're trying to do disaster relief at FEMA, and the list goes on and on and on.
And it's a wonderful thing because it brings together people quickly to find the solution and deliver results in a few short months. I'm just so excited about it, because it's changing the way we do business. It's much like the model of weather. Everybody contributes local weather data because they'd like to know what weather is like in the rest of the world. So everybody's publisher serves up the stuff that they have for the benefit of being able to use the information that the others have too.
Mr. Morales: So it's really about a collaboration. That's sort of the key component to all this.
Mr. Wennergren: Yeah, absolutely. You know, we focus on the technical side of it at this point, but there are other aspects there, too. And so the technology exists to make data strategies happen, but there are other parts of it, too, because of course, there are process changes and policy changes and educational opportunities. So hand in hand with our netcentric data strategy, we have an information sharing strategy, and now we're working on the corresponding implementation plan that actually lays out the other kinds of changes that need to take place in order to break down the impediments to sharing of the paths.
Ms. Marshall: So Dave, what role does service-oriented architecture play in making your data strategy, as well as your overall netcentric vision, a reality?
Mr. Wennergren: Yeah, SOA is at the heart of the matter. There's a fascinating philosophical change that's going on right now. For years, we've had this systems view of the world. It's the way programs are designed, it's the way architectures are built, but the world really is now all about services, and this idea that you could develop a service and serve it up, I could do it as a self-service transaction. I could be standing, waiting for the bus, go to the enterprise portal from my little wireless device, and do a transaction because it's service-oriented, rather than standalone monolithic systems of the past. And so the document that we'll be publishing is called our netcentric services strategy, and it's the companion document to the data strategy that tells how SOA will be used to make this vision a reality.
Mr. Morales: David, how do you balance the need to procure best-of-breed technology with the security of DoD's information technology infrastructure? So for example, how do you deal with the reality that almost all commercial off the shelf software has at least some components of it that were developed in other countries?
Mr. Wennergren: Yes. I would say that the top two issues for me are information sharing on the one hand and information security on the other. And the challenge that we have is people often refer to them as a balancing act. How do you balance information sharing and information security, which is not the analogy that I like, because I think it pits one against the other. And it implies that advances in information security come at the expense of the ability to share, which are of course the simplest kinds of information security solutions.
And so one thing that's happening is the information security professional is viewed as the knucklehead that just wants to shut down access. The information sharing zealot is viewed as the crazy person that doesn't understand that it's a dangerous world out there and they shouldn't just be opening the door. And so it really has to be something that we focus on together, and so using a nautical analogy about the high tide rises all boats, we need to be extremely successful at both information sharing and information security.
And if you think about it that way, then you will choose for a different set of information security solutions, because the easy information security solutions are always about isolation, right? The more I wall myself away, the less bad things can get in, but of course, the less collaboration can go out. And so this idea about we must be extremely successful about sharing and security, that's what's driving the set of security solutions and secure collaboration solutions that we're looking at now.
It is a challenging time. Globalization happened, and things are built around the world, and so it is really important that people understand what they're buying and what they're using it for, and the pedigrees and the security of the different solutions, and one size never fits all. What's important for speed in an unclassified environment might be different than what's needed in a highly classified environment. So software assurance, what's made where, and the pedigree of it and the security of it are all things that people need to take into consideration, but there is a continuum about using this kind of technology for this sort of answer, different kind of technology for a more secure solution.
Mr. Morales: So let me expand on this theme, if you will. You've called for innovative partnerships with industry. Could you elaborate on what kinds of partnerships you are currently developing to improve operations or outcomes, and in what areas would you like to enhance or expand this public-private collaboration?
Mr. Wennergren: Absolutely. Gone are the days where people can go their own way. The government shouldn't be in the business of building their own stuff. There are wonderful commercial solutions that are out there, and government needs to leverage those. Gone also have to be the days where the government person built this really detailed spec and threw over the transom and expected a vendor to just deliver on it. It would seem to me in this information world that it's the height of arrogance to imagine that you as the government person trying to get a solution know all the answers.
And so what I'm a big fan of is performance-based contracting and managed service, and this idea that my relationship with industry ought to be one about a strategic partnership, where I talk about the results that I need to obtain and I talk about the service levels that I expect, and perhaps I have some kind of fixed price contract vehicle with incentive payments so that if you can exceed my expectations, you'll be rewarded for your innovation and performance, and then all of the great minds at your company are able to be brought to bear.
In my Navy life, when we did the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet, which was a large seed management contract, it was done as a performance based contract, we didn't tell the winning contractor that he had to buy Dell computers and use Windows 2000. We told him about latency and refresh rates and security and customer satisfaction, and then gave the company the freedom to pick the right products to deliver it for our behalf, and that's the future. You can't do this alone, and you need to leverage the fact that industry has this huge set of great brains that can help you find the path to the future together.
Mr. Morales: Great.
What about the DoD's IT innovation? We'll ask David Wennergren, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information, Management and Technology, and Deputy CIO, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.
Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with David Wennergren, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information, Management, and Technology, and Deputy CIO.
Also joining is in our conversation is Linda Marshall, partner in IBM's defense industry practice.
David, in your previous role as the Department of the Navy's Chief Information Officer, you led the Identity Protection and Management Senior Coordinating Group. Could you tell us about your efforts to oversee and coordinate DoD's biometrics, Smart Card and PKI initiatives? And what is the Department doing to better its performance on the Security Scorecard in accordance with the Federal Information Security Management Act, otherwise known as FISMA?
Mr. Wennergren: Yeah, I'm really fortunate that as I change jobs, I continue to get to chair of the Identity Protection and Management Senior Coordinating Group. That's a long acronym, IPM-SCG. It's been a wonderful adventure. I think we often underestimate the success of the Department of Defense's Smart Card and PKI, Public Key Infrastructure initiatives. Over the course of the years, we've issued 12 million Smart Cards with PKI credentials on it.
We have a workforce of 3-1/2 million people walking around with the Common Access Card with their PKI credentials on it. It's one of the largest smart card PKI implementations in the world, and certainly one of the most successful. And you know, 10 years ago, we would have been on a path for 50 or 60 different PKI solutions, where everybody that wanted to do something via the web and needed to do SSL or something like that would have gone out and bought its PKI solution and none of them would have worked together. And to have one card that's your military ID card, that's your physical access badge -- well, let me tell you a little bit about how it works.
So I have my Department of Defense Common Access Card, I can use it to do physical access to get on to the base. I can use it when I get into my office to do cryptographic log on onto my computer network, which is much more secure than doing user IDs and passwords. I can use the PKI credentials on the card to launch myself to secure websites. So once again, rather than having to remember 40 or 50 different passwords for different secure websites, I can use my PKI credentials to get to secure websites.
Passwords really need to go away. Passwords are not a secure way of doing business, user IDs and passwords. It's easy to crack passwords, and so that's why people keep wanting to make them more complex. They tell you they have to be longer, special characters, capital letters, and they're still easy to break, so they want you to change them. And so how many passwords do each of you need to remember? You probably write them on a yellow sticky, put them on your computer -- security professionals go crazy when I say that because of course I don't do that, but people do, right? And so this idea about being able to use the Smart Card with its PKI credentials has been a huge improvement to our security.
The number one attack vector against our networks a year or so ago was people cracking passwords, which we have dramatically reduced by having everybody in the Department of Defense use their card for cryptographic log on, but it doesn't just stop there because it's not just about physical security, physical access, and it's not just about cyber-security. So it actually is a key, forgive the pun, to doing e-business. So now I have a Defense Travel System, I put my card in, the hardware token, the card itself with the PKI credentials allows me to do a digital signature. So rather than having to do paper processes with wet ink signatures, I can do digital processes and speed up transactions, improve customer service, get paid in a couple of days now on my travel claim rather than the weeks it took to process the paperwork. So it's been a real accelerator for the transformation to e-government for us, too.
Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, HSPD 12 has sort of said, well, this idea about a common card that you would use for physical access like we're doing with the Common Access Card, the DoD needs to be standard across all of government, and so we're a real leg up on implementing HSPD 12 because of what we've done with the card.
Biometrics are another fascinating area, because biometrics have the added advantage of telling you about somebody's history. The power of the PKI and the Smart Card is about I am who I say I am, and I'm still a valid member of the community. So this is Wennergren, and he's putting his card in the slot, and we have not revoked his certificate, so he's still a valid member of the community. The power about biometrics, like fingerprints, is that they connect you to your history. So a biometric of somebody trying to enter a base can be compared to the biometric that's in a database about a criminal activity, and allows us to connect people to problems. So biometrics work is a real growth industry for us, too.
And at the moment, fingerprints and iris scans and voice recognition and facial recognition are some of the big ones, but the number of biometric technologies that are being looked at grow by the day. It's really exciting to see. The interesting thing that's happened is that, as I mentioned earlier in the interview, what security means to us changes as you move to a web-based world. And so it's kind of fascinating now, a lot of the effort is being spent on what we call continuity of operation planning, because in this new world, it's all about being able to get to the knowledge that you need.
So a continuity of operation plan that you had a few years ago about how to protect the boundary of your network and what you would do if the server was down locally may not be the same kind of continuity of operation plan you need in a world where you're relying upon this single authoritative data source.
So there's a lot of work that's going on in addition to the things we've already done like the identity management work to improve our FISMA scores. There's a lot of work being done to make sure that we really understand the survivability and the sustainability of the network and the internet. How would you function if part of it's not available to you, and the fact that we're all in this together. I can do the best job in the world of securing my DoD computer, but I don't do this alone. I do this with partners in industry, I do this with partners in academia, and we're all sharing data together. So the security level of each of my industry partners, and the academic institutions that I do business with, has to rise with my security levels, too, or else they now become the weak links in the network.
Mr. Morales: David, I want to take us back to something that you said in our first segment. As the Deputy CIO, a big portion of your job is to put in place the policies, cultural change, strategies, and educational outreach to help staff recognize that they are part of this broader enterprise that you described. To this end, what are some of the common push-backs that you encounter in this role?
Mr. Wennergren: Push-back? People don't like what the CIO does? There is an interesting dynamic tension that happens. Because -- not to be clich�d, but I think the C in CIO actually should stand for "Change," because a majority of my time -- as a CIO, you have to understand technology because you have to be able to describe it to others, but I do spend the majority of my time focusing on cultural change issues. Not surprisingly. So we survey our workforce and our leaders and we understand who they are and -- so we're a bunch of type A personalities, and not surprisingly, we're a bunch of control freaks, right?
People want to have the -- give me the money, tell me what you want done, and I'll go get the job done, leave me alone. And we become very expert. And so now I'm an expert that wants to own it myself, because that's when I feel most comfortable. And yet in this Information Age, it's often about me relying upon somebody else to do something for me. So this shift that says it's time to step out of your comfort zone and begin to rely upon somebody else to do something for you or you're going to lose some personal control, it's a huge part of my job.
And so whether it's about the duplicative legacy system -- you build a time and attendance system, Linda -- Albert, you build a time and attendance system, how many time and attendance systems do I really need? So as the CIO, it's my job to tell you, Albert, that --
Ms. Marshall: That Linda's is better.
Mr. Wennergren: Exactly. Right. That maybe your baby's ugly, right, and doesn't need to be around for us anymore -- those are hard conversations, right, and so they often smack on the -- but I understand my business better than you because you're the IT guy, and I'm the -- fill in the blank, the doctor, the lawyer, the financial management specialist.
And so part of the job of the CIO is to help point out that there's a business case, right, and there's actually ways to measure. And so you can let these things be your guide to help you understand that there is a future path that might be more effective if you could come with us from where you are today in your comfort zone and be willing to step out of it.
Ms. Marshall: Dave, I think it's fair to say that information technology is an area sometimes noted for its turf battles and proprietary views.
Mr. Wennergren: Everybody has an opinion, don't they?
Ms. Marshall: Would you elaborate on your efforts to foster an enterprise view and to break down silos, and how does the Department's Enterprise Software Initiative support that effort, and how does it enable your organization to operate more like one enterprise as opposed to in those silos?
Mr. Wennergren: The DoD Enterprise Software Initiative is a wonderful example. There are lot of things that are going on, because you're absolutely right. The beauty of moving to the web, the beauty of having enterprise portals, the beauty of web services is that all those things help -- allow us to move from the world of local solutions to the world of functioning as an enterprise. So there are these great technologies that are forcing functions.
The DoD ESI initiative is focused on this idea about leveraging your buying power and being aligned in what you do. And so it's a great example about moving to an enterprise. And it's been so successful for us that it spawned the idea of the federal governmentwide smartBUY initiative. So they're sort of co-branded now, the DoD-ESI effort and the federal government led smartBUY.
It began as this idea about if you buy in bulk, you get a better deal. So if I need 10,000 copies of a software license and you do it, rather than each of us buying separately, we could band together. But it really grew into so much more, and we have Enterprise Software Initiative agreements with dozens and dozens of companies. And I think if you had them in here, Oracle would be a great example.
In my Navy life, we created a single enterprise licensing agreement for Oracle database products. It was great for me, because I knew I had an ever-increasing base of people that were using Oracle database products, and so how is it going to stay ahead of the licensing costs? I got one fixed price for the entire Department of the Navy to use the Oracle database parts, but it was a win for them, too, because it reduced them from having hundreds of separate contract vehicles and administrative overhead to one vehicle, one bill, one payment, and it allowed them to say, you already have my database product, may be you'd be interested in other products that I sell, too.
And so they really can be win-wins. And the efforts just continue to grow. We estimate that over the last seven, eight or nine years, we've probably helped the Department of Defense avoid spending about $2 billion in licensing costs by having done these agreements. The one that we're about to unveil is for data at rest, encryption technologies, which of course is a pressing concern of everybody now -- what happens if a laptop is stolen or lost. Was the data encrypted to protect any sensitive information on it? And this one's going to be incredibly groundbreaking for us. Again, it's a co-branded SmartBUY federal government DOD-ESI initiative to buy encryption technologies.
And so we will pick the two or three products that are the ones we want to buy and will not only be available to all of DoD, it will be available to every federal agency, and for the first time for one of these agreements, it will be available for every state and local government agency. So we'll be able to help make more efficient use of our resources and raise the bar of security not only across the federal government, but across federal, state, and local governments. That's what the power of working as an enterprise together does for you.
Ms. Marshall: Related to this discussion and regarding IT portfolio management, DoD-IT investment decisions need to be aligned to your strategic goals to improve combat capability, warfighting readiness, and mission performance. To this end, would you elaborate on DoD's capital planning process? What sorts of budget constraints are you dealing with now that you didn't have to face several years ago?
Mr. Wennergren: You know, people often don't fully appreciate the power of portfolio management. It often begins as an exercise that sounds like, well, it's about being good stewards of the taxpayer dollars, which is really important -- it's about what are you spending money on and how can you change the way you spend money. But it really is so much more.
So for us, it began as this idea about what you have, what have you got, tens of thousands of legacy systems and applications and hundreds of legacy networks, and do you really need those? And so which are the ones that are really part of your future? But what it really became was the forcing function to move us to netcentric operations, because you're able to have a preference. I choose four solutions that will be, and then fill in blank about what your future needs to be.
So for us, at the risk of far too much IT jargon, it's going to ride on an enterprise portal, it's going to be a web service, it's going to use the DoD Common Access Card to gain access. Those sets of things that help allow us to be netcentric. And so now you can choose in preference of those solutions. You can help move the organization from what they had before to what they need to have for the future, but it doesn't stop there. Because as we move away from the legacy networks, we move away from the networks that are less secure. And so the new solutions are improving security. So this portfolio management process, which helped me understand what I owned and what I was spending money on, and reprioritize and being more effective at how I spend money, has also helped me to achieve my vision of netcentricity and helped me to raise the bar in security.
Ms. Marshall: Would you tell us about your efforts to establish a standard IT product configuration to be used across the federal government and not just in DoD? What are the benefits and critical challenges to this effort, and what's the status?
Mr. Wennergren: If you want to be netcentric, you have to be aligned, and you have to be interoperable. And so the more that you can be aligned to commercial off the shelf solutions -- the more you can be aligned to standards, the better off you'll be able to be. If you have to build a solution for 28 different versions of an operating system, there's a lot of nuances there that go into what happens. And so the DoD team, the Air Force, the National Security Agency, a lot of folks have worked really hard -- the Army -- putting together a partnership with Microsoft to develop what the secure configuration of Vista looks like that every DoD computer will have, and it will be available through all the hardware sellers. And the secure configuration of Vista has been adopted by OMB and will be used by all of the federal agencies now, too.
So again, this idea about if you get together and talk with your industry partners, you can understand what you need and where they're headed, and you can create a partnership that will raise the bar on security and product conformance for everybody, and so it's a wonderful example.
Mr. Morales: David, I want to come back to this theme of partnerships and collaborations and focus now inwards again to the organization. As you've described, government work is accomplished by teams of employees. Could you elaborate on your approach to empowering your employees, and how do you lead change and enable your staff and those within the organization to accept the inevitability of change and make the most of it?
Mr. Wennergren: Change happens, get used to it. It's one of my favorite subjects. It smacks on human nature and psychology and all sorts of interesting disciplines. It really is at the heart of everything that we do. Organizations are often the last thing to change. It takes a long time to shut down an organization -- as they say, tear down the flag pole, move buildings and those sorts of things, but the challenges have spanned organizational boundaries. So getting people to function as a team is hugely important.
When I was the Deputy CIO for the Navy, we cared enough about this, we actually wrote a book called The Power of Team, and it was geared to help organizations create effective CIO organizations, and the only way to have an effective CIO organization is to have an effective team. And so this idea about being a positive force for change and being able to work with rather than work against others is hugely important. It doesn't have to be a case of my victories at the expense of your defeat, right? We really can find ways if we work together that it will be better than if we went our own individual ways.
There's lots of great leadership books about this. One of my favorites is Max DePree's book, Leadership Is an Art, and it's just fascinating to read. It's one of those great books with big print, lots of white space, a few number of pages, a great easy book to read.
Mr. Morales: Pictures, too?
Mr. Wennergren: No pictures, but every time you read, you will get something more out of it. And he has this great quote about, "Great leaders see opportunities where others see challenges or problems." And that really is the key, are you going to be a cynical voice for change or a positive voice for change? I think people fail to recognize that if you're an IT professional, whether you're in government or industry, you are viewed by all of your peers as knowing more about the subject.
And so your level of cynicism, your level of reticence, your level of reluctance or fear becomes like a magnifier for them -- it's a resonator, it's like the ripples in the pond, a little bit of perturbation on your part creates great angst in the rest of the workforce. It's not to say that you want to endorse things that are bad ideas, but to the extent that things are a good idea, you have to be an avid vocal storyteller about why they're a good idea.
It's no surprise that if you drew a bell curve of an organization, the majority of people are not like early adopters of change; they're change-neutral or change-averse. And so if you want to get an organization to move from where it is to where it will be, you have to help the organization have courage and be willing to understand the new idea. We often underestimate the power and importance of storytelling. You can't do it alone, right? Everybody has to be a good storyteller and everybody has to work together as a team.
There's another great book that I love -- forgive me, I have lots of books that I love. Another great one is the book Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. And in it, they have a fabulous quote that says, "Leaders get the behaviors that they exhibit and tolerate." And it is so true. If you're going to be a positive force for change, if you're going to be a leader of teams that are empowered to do great things, wonderful things will happen. If you're not, then you'll fret and fear and things won't get done.
Leaders help others find their gifts and find their talents and help create a better future. If you empower smart people to get the job done, amazing things will happen. If you feed their creativity and don't be an impediment in their way but support them as they go, fabulous results will happen.
Mr. Morales: So David, not to add more challenge or complications to this equation, could you tell us then how federal managers can effectively manage an ever-increasing blended workforce, which is composed of both contractors and federal employees? And can you tell us a little bit about the intrinsic differences to these two groups?
Mr. Wennergren: Yes. It's a fact of life. Workforces are blended workforces. In the Department of Defense, we use a term called "total force." It is a recognition that an effective warfighting team is composed of active duty military personnel, selected Reservists, government civilian employees, contractors, we're all in this together. So clearly there begins with this conversation about what are governmental functions that have to be performed by government decisionmakers, what are functions that don't have to be performed by government people. Get yourself past that and get yourself to this idea about we're all in this together. Because I find organizations of the past often have like a class system, where contractors are like vendors or they're somebody that I'd just like feed things to, and they're not equal participants.
The successful organizations that I see recognize who needs to do what jobs and then function as a fully integrated team to get the job done. Once you understand who has what set of responsibilities, you need to be able to use the great ideas of everybody on the team. Offices that have large numbers of contractors in them are very effective, because companies are able to bring the right talent to bear quickly. And so there's this partnership of government decisionmakers with understanding of the organization and continuity, contractor teams that are agile and flexible and can help augment the knowledge of the organization quickly.
And that's the key recipe for success in my mind.
Mr. Morales: Great.
What does the future hold for DoD's IT efforts?
We will ask David Wennergren, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information, Management, and Technology, and Deputy CIO, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.
Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with David Wennergren, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information, Management, and Technology, and Deputy CIO.
Also joining us in our conversation is Linda Marshall, partner in IBM's defense industry practice.
Dave, you are the vice chair of the CIO Council. Can you tell us about the Council's role and responsibilities and its initiatives to address federal IT challenges?
Mr. Wennergren: Sure. In our last segment, we were talking about a couple of books, and the role of the federal CIO Council reminds me of another one, The Power of Alignment by George Labovitz and Victor Rosansky, and it's a powerful book about the key issue that faces us all today, and that is, how are you aligned as an organization?
And in the book they talk about what's the main thing that you do. And understand your main thing, then you can work on issues of alignment, both horizontally and vertically.
And in a sense, that's what the federal CIO Council is all about. It is the forum where CIOs from every federal agency can get together to achieve alignment and sustain alignment, to share ideas, to share best practices, to not go it alone. There's a healthy amount of stealing of each other's ideas, and that's what it's all about. So I've been really fortunate to be involved in the federal CIO Council. It's the way that we implement the President's Management Agenda. It's the way we collaborate and share ideas. I have this great opportunity working with Karen Evans, who's the OMB information technology leader and the chair of the Council with me.
It's all about strategic use of information. We have three committees. We have a committee that focuses on architecture and infrastructure issues. We have a workforce committee which has done an outstanding job, and then we have a best practices committee. It's wonderful, because the group meets regularly, and so as issues emerge, like pressing issues that we have today about privacy and security, CIOs are able to volunteer time and resources to help resolve those kinds of issues.
Mr. Morales: With the evolution of the global threat environment, and the many challenges associated with it, how do you envision DoD and its information technology efforts evolving in, say, the next five years to meet these challenges?
Mr. Wennergren: You know, I do a strategic plan. I try to get the team to focus on the next two years, because the farther out you go in the IT world, the world becomes fuzzier and fuzzier. Five years doesn't seem like much when it comes time for doing Department of Defense budgets, but it's a great length of time in terms of all the wonderful innovations that take place. But as I look in my crystal ball, the importance of the web is huge, and we will continue a rapid migration -- rapid migration to portals and web services. And again, that speaks to the security issues then that we've already touched on about the sustainability and survivability of a global enterprise network that relies upon the commercial sector, and it speaks to the issues of can I trust the data; is there integrity of the knowledge that I'm using, because not being able to trust the data is as bad as not having the connection.
The other idea is of course we're all in this together. And so we've got to keep looking for ways to raise the bar in collaboration, to raise the bar on security, across government -- with industry, with other governments, with academia. And I guess the last part is that people need to keep their eyes on the innovations of the future. What often begins as something that seems recreational only actually fosters collaboration. I'm intrigued by YouTube, I'm intrigued by Second Life.
Second Life, which seems like a game to most people my age, is really like this virtual reality that companies like IBM have been huge users of. I understand they have like 2000 accounts to do virtual online collaboration. I think that's a fascinating example of the kind of thought leadership that IBM has had in this business. There is a hotel chain that uses Second Life to do virtual floor plans and see how the six million inhabitants of Second Life traverse. Two countries have embassies on Second Life now; Maldives and Sweden, and Reuters has a news desk now. If you're an old fashioned guy, you might look at that and say well, Second Life is this video game. But Second Life is actually this innovative new way to collaborate, and so we have to keep our eyes focused on the non-traditional ways of helping to get to the future quicker.
Ms. Marshall: So Dave, with innovation and transformation, these things create new competitive areas, new competencies, new ways of having to do business. What qualities will be needed in the warfighter of the future and those IT staff who provide support? And to that end, what steps are being taken to attract and maintain a high quality technical and professional workforce that are willing to take on that change?
Mr. Wennergren: It really is all about the people. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, who was my boss before when he was the Secretary of the Navy as well, he used to point to an aircraft carrier and say, "You see that aircraft carrier, big, giant, massive thing, it's not worth anything until it's manned by a crew of 5,000 men and women who are trained and equipped and ready to go." If you don't have the right workforce, you'll never be able to be an effective warfighting force of the future.
The interesting thing is that we survey the workforce extensively, and the common wisdom was that -- the number one issue facing us was the graying of the workforce, the workforce is about to retire. But we find that not to be true for the Department of Defense workforce. The much more pressing issue for us is the need for retraining, that people came into a job and they want to stay. But the skills that they developed initially are not maybe the skill sets they need for the future. COBOL programming, not such a big thing anymore. Being a knowledge manager, being an information security professional, being a website developer, so it's this retraining of the workforce that's really front and center for us. It's all about being a learning organization.
Peter Drucker was one of the great leadership minds of 20th century and he said a lot about the importance of continued learning, and I'm taking that to heart. He said that good management is all about making people's strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant. And that's what a continually learning kind of organization does. And so we are expending a lot of energy helping people to get professional certifications, which doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's something that the government wasn't so good at doing a few years ago.
Helping people understand that if you want to attain these competencies, this is the career path that you ought to go on and these are the kinds of training that you need to do and those sorts of things. Second and related to that is it's not just about the IT workforce, it's about the entire workforce and their expectations. You know, the average age on an aircraft carrier is 21 or 22 years old. People that are coming into our organization at that age, what are their expectations? What do they have as the technologies and advantages that they have in their life at home or at school, and are we going to provide them that kind of technology.
In my Navy life, our commercial of the day is about accelerating your life, which is a fascinating message, because accelerating your life implies that come and join us and you can be part of something better faster. And so we better make sure that we're staying abreast of the kinds of technologies that they're used to be using and using very effectively, and having them available for when they work here.
Ms. Marshall: Dave, you are the recent recipient of a Federal 100 Award, which goes to individuals who have made a difference in government technology, and as well, you have been a previous John J. Frank Award recipient. Given that peer recognition, first, would you tell us a little something about these awards? But more importantly, what emerging technologies hold the promise for improving federal IT?
Mr. Wennergren: You know, both being an Eagle Award Winner, the Fed 100 this year, and the John. J. Frank Award last year were really great honors for me. It's kind of humbling to be recognized by your peers for making a difference in the IT space, and especially humbling when these people who have been mentors and friends of yours have received these awards in the past, and to be able to join their ranks has really been a wonderful experience for me, and it's a nice feeling to be recognized for whatever work you do.
And you know, the fascinating thing is of course that the hard work that I do pales in comparison with the people that I do the work for. And so what motivates me everyday is the fact that there are tens of thousands of young men and women who are deployed far from home in harm's way defending the nation, and they chose careers of service and sacrifice. And so if I as the IT guy can help make that life more effective and better for them, then that's great motivation to come to work.
And so what are we going to give them to have them have a productive future? And I think that's the heart of your question, and I think we've sort of touched on it. You know, this idea about it's a web-based world is really at the heart of it, that if I'm a Naval CC officer and I'm stationed in Fallujah with the Marines, and when they reach back to get knowledge from an Army organization, can I do that? And we're saying yes, you can. And it requires all of us to be really vigilant about adopting these enterprisewide solutions, buying the right stuff, being interoperable, making the right choices about when's the right time to buy the one big system versus when's the right time to just ensure interoperability, to allow people to go do things with speed and agility, but have them do it in a way that's interoperable.
So portals, service-oriented architecture, web services, the security portfolio will continue to be a growth industry for us. We've made a big difference with Common Access Card and PKI, but there is much more to be done, much more to be done about attribute management, that is this combination of my identity and attributes about me that ought to give me access to data and the world of biometrics.
So there's lots of opportunities for growth.
Mr. Morales: Dave, you've had a very interesting and highly successful career within public service. What advice would you give to someone who is out there perhaps considering a career in public service?
Mr. Wennergren: Well, it's been a fabulous opportunity for me. And I think people choose one of two career paths. Some people have very organized career paths, where they plan they're going to do this for two years and do that for three years and plan out their whole lives, I kind of have managed my career by chaos. You know, one adventure has led to another, and I've been very fortunate in where those adventures have led.
I think working for the federal government has been great. It's a wonderful opportunity. You know, you get a chance to get leadership experience very early. In the military and in the civil service, you're a leader of large groups of people at a very young age, and so you learn leadership skills quickly and you get to work on some things that are very big stages. The scope and size of the military departments in the Department of Defense is unrivalled pretty much anywhere.
And so you get to be part of something really big. It does take the right blend of patience and impatience. Large organizations are like large ships, they sometimes turn slowly. You need to be impatient because you need to keep pushing for the next thing to happen. You need to have a certain amount of patience though so you don't become too frustrating where sometimes you have butt heads or don't make progress as fast as you like. But I think it's been a really rewarding experience for me, and I think it's an opportunity for somebody to be a positive force for change and make a difference quickly.
Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. We've unfortunately reached the end of our time here together this morning. So I do want to thank you for fitting us into your busy schedule, but more importantly, Linda and I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to our country across your federal career.
Mr. Wennergren: Thank you. Thank you, Albert. Thank you, Linda. It's been great being here with you. I guess I would offer to the audience that I'm easy to find. If you have questions, firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you're interested in any of the things we talked about today, we do have a website; it's www.dod.mil/cio-nii. And all of the documents that we talked about today, you can find there.
Mr. Morales: That's fantastic.
Mr. Wennergren: Happy hunting.
Mr. Morales: Thank you.
This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with David Wennergren, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information, Management, and Technology, and Deputy CIO.
My co-host has been Linda Marshall, partner in IBM's defense industry practice.
As you enjoy the rest of your day, please take time to remember the men and women of our armed and civil services abroad who can't hear this morning's show on how we're improving their government, but who deserve our unconditional respect and support.
For The Business of Government Hour, I'm Albert Morales.
Thank you for listening.
This has been The Business of Government Hour. Be sure to join you every Saturday at 9:00 a.m., and visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There, you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of the day's conversation.
Until next week, it's businessofgovernment.org.
Originally Broadcast Saturday, December 9, 2006
Mr. Breul: Good morning, and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Jonathan Breul, your host, and senior fellow of The IBM Center for The Business of Government. We created the Center in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. You can find out more about the Center by visiting us on the web at businessofgovernment.org.
The Business of Government Radio Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our special guest this morning is Robert Shea, Associate Director for Management at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
Good morning, Robert.
Mr. Shea: Good morning, Jonathan.
Mr. Breul: And joining us in our conversation is John Kamensky, senior fellow at The IBM Center for The Business of Government.
Good morning, John.
Mr. Kamensky: Hi. How're you doing, Jonathan?
Mr. Breul: Let's begin by talking about the Office of Management and Budget. Robert, could you tell us about OMB, what is its mission, how is it organized, and give us a sense of the size of the staff?
Mr. Shea: OMB is a great storied institution, part of the Executive Office of the President. It's got about 500 employees. Its primary responsibility is to serve the President in executing his budget responsibilities, his oversight of the Executive Branch and the implementation of programs, and ensuring that regulations are issued in compliance with the law in an effective and efficient way.
It has the most talented group of employees in the federal government. It was rated recently by its own employees as the best place in government to work. It's a great place to be, very exciting. You have a very high sense of purpose at OMB, because you are every day trying to figure out how to serve the American people better every day.
Mr. Breul: Now that you've given us some sense of the larger OMB organization, could you elaborate on the management side of OMB, its specific purpose, its role within the larger organization?
Mr. Shea: Sure. The two big sides of OMB are the budget side and the management side. Most of the employees work on the budget side; that is, they prepare the budget, work with agencies to enact and implement that budget. But they also oversee the management of agencies. And the management side helps them to do that better.
We have an Office of Federal Procurement Policy, an Office of Federal Financial Management, an Office of Information Technology and E-Gov, and an Office of Personnel and Performance Management. Those all fall under the Deputy Director for Management, Clay Johnson, and are headed by folks who implement laws that have been enacted over time to improve government management, including the Office of Federal Procurement Act, the Chief Financial Officers Act, the E-Gov Act, the Clinger-Cohen Act.
All of these are intended -- and of course the Government Performance and Results Act, which really is the foundation for all of the management improvement acts that have been passed over time -- all of them are designed to make programs work better, more efficiently, and effectively on behalf of the American people. And we have chosen to implement those statutes, and measure implementation of those statutes, with the President's Management Agenda scorecard.
So for each of those offices, there is also an initiative on improving financial performance, strategic management of human capital, expanded electronic government, competitive sourcing and budget and performance integration, all of which have clear definitions of success criteria which we use to judge agency performance every quarter, so that we are improving the timeliness and accuracy of financial information that agencies can use to manage, that agencies have the employees they need to accomplish their missions, that they're reducing duplicative IT systems, managing IT projects more effectively and securely, that they're setting clear outcome goals for their programs and working to achieve them better and more efficiently every year, and reducing the cost of commercial activities.
So we've got about 60 people, all of whom are working diligently with their counterparts on the budget side of OMB and individuals and agencies to improve agency and program performance.
Mr. Kamensky: Well, that's a broad scope of responsibilities that the management side has. What are your specific responsibilities as the Associate Director for Management in OMB?
Mr. Shea: I often say that my duties are as assigned. But I lead the -- my primary responsibility is leading the budget and performance integration initiative, which implements the spirit of the Government Performance and Results Act.
Agencies have to have clear outcome-oriented long-term goals and measure their progress achieving those goals on an annual basis, and reporting on how well they're doing and identify strategies to do better, to do more for less. So I work with agencies to achieve the specific criteria for that initiative, and we measure and report our status in that initiative through the scorecard.
But I also -- because I've got some experience working on Capitol Hill -- help my colleagues work with the Congress in reporting on the extent to which we we're complying with the various management statutes in place. I also advise on various policy matters, particularly in Executive Branch organization and personnel policy.
Mr. Kamensky: You also chair two councils -- you just mentioned one of them -- the Council on Budget and Performance Integration. The other one is this Credit Council. What are these two councils, what is the role, and how do they tie back into this President's Management Agenda?
Mr. Shea: I'd like to say there is no activity in which the government is engaged where there aren't multiple players trying to achieve the same objective, and those are two examples. Every agency is trying to do a better job of setting clear goals and reporting on the extent to which they are achieving them, and trying to do the more efficiently.
Likewise, we have a massive number of loans and loan guarantees that we issue every year. Multiple agencies are doing that. We get each of these groups together to come up with and share best practices on how to achieve those objectives. We've got a meeting with the budget and performance integration leads. And two of the things we'll talk about are making sure that agency congressional budget justifications integrate performance information in a way that is both useful to them and useful to their primary audience on the Hill, the appropriators, but we'll also come up with ways to reduce duplicative reporting requirements.
Everybody wants agencies to report on how they're doing, how efficiently they're performing. I mean, sometimes we get carried away. So we want to make sure we are not creating duplicative reporting requirements that detract from an agency's ability to focus on what they should be doing, which is actual program performance.
Now, the Credit Council is made up of representatives from the major lending agencies: SBA, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education, Housing and Urban Development, the Veterans Affairs Department. These are folks who manage massive loan portfolios. And we want to make sure that they are working together to find the best way to assess the creditworthiness of individuals and manage their loan portfolios so that the risk to the taxpayer is not too great, while at the same time, we are reaching our target borrower population, that the program goals of these loan portfolios are achieved in the most efficient way possible.
Mr. Breul: Let's step aside for a moment and look at your career. How did you begin your career and how did you get to OMB? What was the path that took you to where you are now?
Mr. Shea: I started with the House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform and became passionate about improving agency and program performance there. I then spent a couple of years working for my good friend, Congressman Pete Sessions of Dallas, as his legislative director, and got some good experience advising a senior political leader on a broad array of public policy. But this fellow had an intense interest in improving government results. So it was a good match.
I then had the privilege of working for Senator Fred Thompson as Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, another dynamic leader committed to improving government management and program performance.
As a staffer on that committee, I got the privilege of working with agency officials, Executive Branch officials, particularly those from OMB in their Senate confirmation process. That's where I met Mark Everson, then-comptroller at OMB, now IRS Commissioner. And he asked me to come work for him at OMB.
He was then promoted to Deputy for Management, left OMB and was replaced by Clay Johnson. And Clay asked me to stay on, lead the Budget and Performance Integration Initiative and help him administer the President's Management Agenda as Associate Director for Management. I've worked with three directors of OMB, two deputy directors for management, a senator and two congressmen, and all of them committed to -- not only public service, but service that contributes to the improved performance and service to Americans. So I am proud to be associated with people who I know the American people would be glad to know are working on their behalf.
Mr. Breul: How has OMB's Program Assessment Rating Tool changed the way government does business?
We will ask Robert Shea, Associate Director for Management at OMB, to tell us about this, when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.
Mr. Breul: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm you host, Jonathan Breul, and this morning's conversation is with Robert Shea, Associate Director for Management at OMB.
Also joining us in our conversation is John Kamensky, senior fellow at The IBM Center for The Business of Government.
In 2003, OMB initiated its Program Assessment Rating Tool, commonly referred to as PART. Robert, would you tell us about PART: its purpose, its scope, how is it designed, and what's the overall status of the PART initiative today?
Mr. Shea: The Program Assessment Rating Tool is a simple device to guide agencies in OMB in assessing the management and performance of programs. It's comprised of 25 or so basic questions: asking whether a program's purpose is clear and it's well-designed to achieve its objectives, whether it's got outcome-oriented long-term and annual goals and aggressive targets, whether it's well-managed. Most importantly, the tool asks whether a program achieves its goals.
We've asked these questions of virtually every program in the government now. We've assessed 100 percent of government spending, give or take 5 or 8 percent. And the purpose is to ascertain what barriers exist to improving a program's performance, and once we identify those barriers, come up with strategies to overcome them. The way it works is agencies tell us what the right answers to these questions are, like any self-assessment that's going to appear more generous than it should be.
So we at OMB kind of look at the evidence that has been provided and try to work with the agency to come up with the right answers to these questions, and then come up with a reasonable, accurate, and objective overall assessment for a program. Once OMB and the agency staff arrive at the right answer, my staff does an audit of all the parts to make sure that they are consistent with the rules, whether we've applied the questions consistently to programs across the government. After that, if an agency didn't like its overall assessment, it can appeal to a high-level committee comprised of deputies from various agencies in the government.
And then we arrive at a final rating. We use that not only to identify strategies to improve programs, but to make decisions about programs, about whether we need to propose legislative fixes to make them perform better, what their budget level ought to be, is this program performing at a high enough level where we can invest more, or do we need to fix something before we scale it up.
Hopefully, we can make more and more of those decisions. But for the first time, we've had this uniform set of assessments to make decisions like this across government, so we can see the performance of programs within agencies, but also perhaps more importantly, like programs across government -- programs with similar goals.
Mr. Breul: How has the PART introduced a new level of transparency and led to a more citizen-centric government?
Mr. Shea: As long as we've been doing the Program Assessment Rating Tool, we have published all of the answers and the evidence upon which those answers are based on the Internet at OMB's website. But it was so difficult to navigate that you might as well not have been posting it at all.
Analysts might have been able to look at the data and made some use of it; people familiar with a specific program might have found it useful. But otherwise, it wasn't very accessible. So we stepped back and launched a website called expectmore.gov. to sort of summarize all of the program assessments in a language that was more easily understandable by the average reader or visitor to the site, and made it searchable by a common search tool.
But all the evidence is there. We haven't reduced the amount of information that's there. We've just summarized it in a way that's more accessible, readable, understandable so that people can make greater use of it.
We've had more than a couple of million visitors to the site, which is more modest than I would like it to be, but is a lot more than visited in the past. And I hope that that information could be much more usable in the future; that people will visit the site as a way to look at how other programs are finding out how to do better and better every year.
But also, the whole program is accountable. You know, ultimately we ought to be candid about whether or not we are achieving our objectives on behalf of the American people and trying to collaborate on ways to do better in the future.
I will tell you one of the most visited sites on expectmore.gov is the Gallaudet University PART. We are the federal investment in Gallaudet University. Taxpayers invest $100 million a year in Gallaudet. So we thought it was a useful program to assess, and when you look at the data, it shows that graduates in jobs or degree programs commensurate with their degrees from Gallaudet reduced by a dramatic amount -- and the PART makes you ask why, what's causing that? And there has been a lot of discussion between us and Gallaudet. Gallaudet is an important storied institution that is serving a pivotal role, educating deaf people, both from K through 12 all the way through the postgraduate level, doing very important research on deaf education.
But the PART highlighted what really was invisible to most, and that was a decrease in some of their performance. And so hopefully, we will come up with ways to improve. That's the most high-profile assessment we've done, but all of these programs provide an opportunity to identify weaknesses and strategies to overcome them.
Mr. Kamensky: Well, in the first year, I have noticed that it was treated largely as a compliance exercise, and the next year, it seemed to be that a lot more senior executives were paying attention to the process. How does this PART score wind up influencing an agency's budget, either in the President's budget or up on the Hill in the appropriations process? And are you trying to generate more interest up on the Hill on this?
Mr. Shea: Well, starting with your first point about the compliance exercise, PART is what you make it. The Program Assessment Rating Tool can be a very effective way to drive greater performance in your organization, because it's really basic questions about a program's performance and management that we all ought to be asking whether or not we are achieving.
As far as the use of this as a device to make budget decisions, we ought to be making decisions based on performance and management of programs. This just gives us a uniform way to produce that evidence and use it as a factor in decision-making. But you know, John, that we don't make these decisions based on one factor alone, there are a lot of drivers to decisions about program budgets.
My job is to make performance an increasingly important factor, and the PART is a very powerful tool. But decisions will be made to increase funding or decrease funding for a program that are not related to performance. A program may have outlived its usefulness. The original purpose might have gone away, or the program may not be a priority for a particular administration or committee chairman.
So a lot of factors go into the decision-making about program funding. A program that is rated ineffective may need additional funds to address a particular weakness. And a higher performing program may, as I say, have outlived its usefulness or not be a high priority, and therefore its funding can be diverted to other uses. And if you look at the PART ratings, there is a slight correlation: higher performing programs tend to in the aggregate get higher budgets, and programs in the lower rated category tend to get less funding. But there is no direct correlation between a program's rating and its funding level.
There's a tremendous opportunity to make greater use of this on the Hill. Some resist it -- I fail to understand why except that I think some may view criticism of a program that they created as a personal slight. And I can't say enough or clearly enough or repeat enough that this is intended to be a characterization of the status quo about a program's performance and management, and we want these programs to work as much as anyone else. And the path forward is to address whatever weaknesses we find, not ignore them.
Mr. Breul: Last year, in 2005, the PART won the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award. Could you tell our listeners a little bit about the award and what the significance is of receiving it?
Mr. Shea: The Ash Institute, in collaboration with the Kennedy School of Government and the Council for Excellence in Government, every year receive nominations for innovations in American government, things that they think ought to be replicated because of the promise of the particular innovation to improving the lives of Americans for the performance and management of government.
And in 2005, they recognized the Program Assessment Rating Tool as one of those innovations worthy of replication. It was a high honor to have received that award. It was not received by me. It was -- rightly went to the folks at OMB who developed the tool. It was an important recognition that I think validated for all of us who have been toiling at this the methodology we're using to assess program performance and management. The program comes with a $100,000 grant, which because we are OMB, we couldn't receive, we had to take the award alone as compensation.
Mr. Breul: What is expectmore.gov, and how does the PART facilitate budget performance integration?
We will ask Robert Shea, Associate Director for Management at OMB, to share with us the answers to these questions when we return and continue our conversation about management on The Business of Government Hour.
Mr. Breul: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Jonathan Breul. This morning's conversation is with Robert Shea, Associate Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget.
Also joining us in our conversation is John Kamensky, senior fellow at The IBM Center for The Business of Government.
Robert, during our last segment, you mentioned a new website, www.expectmore.gov. What are the plans to expand the application of expectmore.gov, and what are your plans to use it in the future to share information on programs, and specifically to assist Congress during the reauthorization of programs?
Mr. Shea: Well, expectmore.gov now includes all the programs that have been assessed to date. The remaining programs we've assessed will be posted there early next year. So you'll have the most comprehensive information on the performance and management of federal programs anywhere. It's an incredibly comprehensive site, useful information if you want to fix a program, if you want to identify what other programs are doing particularly innovative things to improve their performance, the relative performance of like programs.
We can do a lot more of that. We can identify or make it easier to find similar programs so that a poorer-performing program can go to one of its partner programs or a program with a similar missions to find out better ways to crack the nut. I think it can be a particularly useful source of best practices for programs across the government.
As far as congressional authorization is concerned, I am trying to figure out a way to link a program's statutory authorization on the site so that folks who are involved in the reauthorization program of a program either at the agency or in the Congress, or anywhere for that matter, can go not only for the statutory basis for the program, but also to find out when its authorization might be up and when the right time might be to interject some reforms into the reauthorization process.
We're not there yet. I hope it will be part of the site when it's refreshed in the early next year, but certainly in the near future, it's something that that site ought to provide, expectmore.gov. I encourage everybody to visit now and often.
Mr. Breul: How has the PART submission process evolved? Originally, it was a paper exercise. Now, you use a PART web application, it's web-based. What are the future plans to further enhance the PART web application?
Mr. Shea: We used to submit PART answers over the Internet on an Excel spreadsheet and then have to convert that so that we could publish it online. Now, we have evolved to an online collaboration tool that allows agencies to input their answers and evidence more easily, and then for OMB and agencies to collaborate on what the right answers are to those questions online.
It's much quicker, much more collaborative, but even that can be better. For instance, right now, you really can't see what the specific edits are that somebody made to the data in the application. And we want to make sure that people can have an easy way to track what's going on with their program assessment. And we also want agencies to be able to more easily access data about other ongoing assessments so that if they are having a particular challenge, whether it's the right performance measures or efficiency improvement strategies or reform efforts, we want them to access that information more readily. PART web is a tool that's in its future evolution can facilitate that to a much greater degree.
Mr. Kamensky: I see some really big differences between departments in the program assessment ratings under the PART process. Is this because of the inherent nature of the programs these departments have, or is it related to something else?
Mr. Shea: The differences in the application of the tool are probably as varied as the difference in departments themselves. A large department can have pockets that embrace the tool and really use it to aggressively drive performance improvements or reform strategies when the rest of the department might not do quite as much as you would hope to use the tool. And so we try to be as uniform in the application of the tool as possible through the process I described of auditing PART results and giving agencies an opportunity to appeal to a high-level board that's overseeing the whole process so that it's consistently applied throughout the government.
Each of these program's assessments, like programs themselves, can be better. And we ought to be as critical as we can about the status of a program so that we can drive it to improve even more. And everybody who looks at a PART ought to be highly critical of the assessment. They ought to question the answers to the questions on the PART, don't give us the benefit of the doubt, because the more and more people who provide their input into this process, the more accurate and reliable and useful it will be.
Mr. Kamensky: One of the key initiatives in the President's Management Agenda is the Budget Performance Integration Initiative. Could you tell us a little bit more about this initiative and how PART plays a role in helping that particular initiative be successful?
Mr. Shea: The Budget and Performance Integration Initiative is one of the five initiatives on the President's Management Agenda which each major agency is complying with. It ensures that agencies have a strategic plan that's got really good long-term outcome-oriented goals, that it uses data on a regular basis to make decisions about how to improve program performance and efficiency, that individuals in the organization are assessed based on their contribution to the achievement of the agency's and program's mission and goals.
The Program Assessment Rating Tool gives you a really good way to assess the performance and management at the program level and then to use that improvement strategies that you've identified through that tool to improve strategic goals, individual performance goals, and efficiency efforts. We just want to see the PART as another source of information agencies can use to improve their performance.
Mr. Breul: With all the success that you have had with PART, could you tell us whether its success has piqued the interests of other countries? Have other countries come to you and sought to emulate or imitate the PART tool?
Mr. Shea: Yes. In fact, I was surprised several years ago to learn that the Scottish EPA had applied the PART. I am less surprised with the successive governments that come to me asking for information on how they can apply this tool to their affairs. I was recently at a meeting of OECD in Paris, in which my partner representatives were all very eager to learn about this tool. Australia, Canada, Korea, Thailand, all have expressed an interest in applying this precise tool.
I had a visit, far less exotic, from a local government near us right now that wanted to consult with us on how they could apply this tool to their affairs. It's really simple. A set of questions that asks of federal programs, what could legitimately be asked of any activity. Do you have clear goals, and is your program well-designed to achieve those goals? Do you have long-term and short-term targets? Are you well-managed? And are you achieving your goals? Those are basic questions that we ought to be asking about what we're doing so that we can do it better.
Mr. Breul: Are you finding similar interests by state and local governments? Has anyone from a governor's office or a mayor's office come to visit, sought to pick up the essential elements of the PART?
Mr. Shea: I have had some modest interest -- not a lot -- but like I say, one of the local governments from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area approached me about applying the tool there. So I think that would be very exciting.
Mr. Breul: And what about interest from Congress? Have you had any particular entrees or invitations from them to follow-up and dig more deeply into expectmore.gov or how the PART tool itself operates?
Mr. Shea: There is increasing interest from the Congress in the Program Assessment Rating Tool and our conclusions about programs. Some of that interest is good; some of it is not so good. I'd like to hope that more and more in Congress find this information useful in performing their jobs in reauthorization, oversight, appropriations, because like us, they want the programs that they authorize and fund to work better every year.
And you see increasing citations to assessments of programs in congressional reports and the like -- hearings. So I hope that grows. And I hope it grows in a positive way that people really find this information more and more useful.
Mr. Breul: What's next for PART and for other government management reforms,? We will ask Robert Shea, Associate Director for Management at OMB, to share this with us when our conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.
Mr. Breul: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Jonathan Breul, and this morning's conversation is with Robert Shea, Associate Director for Management at OMB.
Also joining us in our conversation is John Kamensky, senior fellow at The IBM Center for The Business of Government.
Robert, with the forthcoming Fiscal Year 2008 budget, which is going to be released in February of 2007, the Administration is going to release the results of the fifth round of the PART assessments, completing 100 percent of programs and dollars. What are the plans for PART next year, and does OMB plan to go back and re-PART specific programs? Are you going to go look at programs that got low scores, or are you going to take a look at programs in various cross-cutting areas?
Mr. Shea: I hope we're going to do all of those things, having assessed virtually 100 percent of the federal budget, have improvement plans for most programs. Everybody has identified steps that they are going to take to improve the programs they manage. So we need to track those; we need to ensure that people are being as aggressive as they can in implementing those improvement plans. So that's the first thing we'll do, make sure everybody is doing what they said they would do to improve their programs.
Programs that have done enough to warrant a reassessment will get reassessed, and hopefully their ratings will improve. But then we'll have to identify improvements that the programs will have to take again to improve even more. So this is a continuing cycle of improvement that we can engage in now with the PART.
Now, as you say, having assessed 100 percent of the programs, what is the opportunity for looking at cross-cutting areas? I think the highest value use of the Program Assessment Rating Tool is in getting like programs together, programs with similar missions, and collaborate on better ways to jointly improve their performance. We've done this in a myriad of areas. In grant programs, for instance, we've come up with a common strategy that programs can use to share information about specific funded activities that are more effective than others so that we can scale those up.
We have collaborated this past year with programs aimed at improving achievement in math and science among America's youth. And you will find a real lack of clarity about the goals of those programs. We've fixed that. And now we are going to get more and more evidence about which math and science programs are most effective so that we can share those lessons with the hundreds of other programs that are aimed at improving math and science achievement. That's the real potential for the future of the PART. I intend to drive its use for collaboration among like programs.
Mr. Breul: The President recently signed into law a new piece of legislation, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. What does this legislation envision? And can you tell us something about the role of the blogger community in the passage of this new act?
Mr. Shea: That was something to behold. This was a piece of legislation which had a very noble purpose but which I didn't give very high odds of passage, because I knew the opposition among many in Congress was great. What it does is it requires us to post on a regularly updated basis those federal expenditures and grants and contracts and loans, et cetera, to organizations other than to individuals, and to post that in a searchable, easily accessible format on the Internet. And we are going to implement that Act as the authors of that Act intend it to be created. We will collaborate with them in the development and planning of that website.
Now, one of the forces that helped this bill get enacted was the blogger community on the Internet. They were passionate, both on the left and the right, for this legislation, because they saw it as a way to improve accountability of government for taxpayer spending. And they got wind of efforts to defeat it and shined the bright light of the Internet on those activities and overcame them -- by sheer force, got very powerful members of Congress to relent and in the end support passage and enactment of this legislation.
Mr. Kamensky: This has been, you know, a fascinating phenomenon, that this has happened. The question then becomes, is there the ability to leverage this kind of change in the culture of Washington and new ways to focus attention on management issues that might otherwise not have been paid attention to?
Mr. Shea: I think one of our watchwords in implementing the President's Management Agenda has been transparency. We grade agencies every quarter, post their grades on the Internet. We also assess programs and post all of the evidence on which those assessments are based in easily accessible websites, searchable and understandable by the American public. The reason we do that is because we think we're on the side of right. We think what we're doing is the best way to achieve our goals. And if others disagree with us, we want to know that. If they have a better way to achieve the goals, we want to know that, because no one wants to achieve our mutual goals more than we do.
So I think the blogger community, just like any other media outlet, is a great way to both communicate and collaborate on our plans to achieve goals. So we have a new vessel for communicating our plans. I anticipate that the feedback we get might be a little more aggressive than we're used to, but bring it on. We want feedback so that people can buy into what we are doing.
Mr. Kamensky: And do you have some plan for leveraging this?
Mr. Shea: Well, I think that's it. I think regularly communicating with the folks who are involved in that website, not only on the implementation of the plans to comply with the Act, but also in the implementation of the President's Management Agenda overall.
Mr. Kamensky: Separately, how significant is the proposed Program Assessment and Results Act, which is a proposal in Congress, to the continued and future success of the government management reform efforts?
Mr. Shea: Well, I think one of the questions the Program Assessment Rating Tool asks is whether a program's statutory design adequately helps it achieve its goal or whether it's flawed in some way. If it's flawed, I generally suggest that we try to remedy that flaw in statute. So there are a number of statutory reforms that have been proposed as a result of the PART highlighting a flaw. We've not been that successful in getting those reforms enacted. So in the future, there's a great opportunity for improvement.
And when you see like programs that suffer from generally the same flaws, you can accelerate the performance of those programs by perhaps reforming them all at the same time. Reauthorization, as we've talked about, is an opportunity to tee up those reforms for agencies and the Congress, and the President as well.
Mr. Breul: Let me turn the conversation back to OMB for a moment. OMB has a reputation for being a very demanding and stressful place to work. And yet to the surprise of many, it achieved the number one ranking in the Partnership for Public Services' best places to work in the federal government survey.
What are some of the benefits of working in such an environment, and in particular, what advice would you give to a person considering a career in the public service or possibly even being interested in joining OMB?
Mr. Shea: OMB is a very demanding place to work, just like any federal job. We are doing a better job at telework. So I'm able to spend more time with my beautiful wife and charming three girls. But it's still tough -- the hours are long, and there is no downturn in the workload throughout the year. There's always something going through OMB. When every policy matter, legislative matter, budget matter, management matter, regulatory matter comes through OMB, there's just no let-up in the workload. But that's also why it's an attractive place to work.
But the work we are doing will have an impact on the performance and management of the federal government, and therefore, the lives of the American people. You can have a real impact on mission at any job at OMB. And that is an incredible reward. There is a challenge of staying the best place to work, because while our employees are the most talented, there's a limit. You've got to have a reasonable workload-family balance. And so that's a continuing challenge that we have to confront.
But the advice I'd give to people who are considering a job at OMB is to come. If you're talented and have an interest in public service, serving the American people, OMB is the most exciting place to be because it's where I think you can have the greatest impact.
I would recommend you visit www.omb.gov for more information about not only OMB in general, but opportunities to come work there.
Mr. Breul: Robert, that's great advice. We've reached the end of our time, and that will have to be the last question. I want to thank you for fitting this into your very busy schedule today. And more importantly, John and I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to the public.
Mr. Shea: Thank you very much, Jonathan, John. This has been fun. And for those listening, if you want to get more information about the President's Management Agenda, I invite you to visit www.results.gov., where we update regularly the status of the scorecard and other President's Management Agenda initiatives.
And not to sound like a broken record, but for more information about program performance and management and our assessments in general, visit www.expectmore.gov.
Mr. Breul: This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Robert Shea, Associate Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget.
Be sure to visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There, you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of today's fascinating conversation. Once again, that's businessofgovernment.org.
As you enjoy the rest of your day, please take time to remember the men and women of our armed forces and civil service abroad who can't hear this morning's show on how we are improving their government but who deserve our unconditional respect and support.
For The Business of Government Hour, I'm Jonathan Breul. Thank you for listening.
Originally Broadcast Saturday, September 16, 2006
Mr. Morales: Good morning and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Albert Morales, your host, and managing partner of The IBM Center for The Business of Government. We created this center in 1998, to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. You can find out more about the center by visiting us on the web at www.businessofgovernment.org.
The Business of Government Radio Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our special guest this morning is Lisa Schlosser, Chief Information Officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Good morning, Lisa.
Ms. Schlosser: Good Morning, Al. Thanks for having me.
Mr. Morales: And joining us in our conversation also from IBM is Pete Boyer, Director of Federal Civilian Programs.
Good morning, Pete.
Mr. Boyer: Good morning, Al.
Mr. Morales: Lisa, let's start at the beginning. Can you tell us about the mission and the history of the Department of Housing and Urban Development? And could you mention some of HUD's major programs?
Ms. Schlosser: Sure, HUD has been around really since the 1930s. Our mission during that timeframe has been pretty consistent, really, to open doors to homeownership to all Americans; to help to ensure affordable housing, and to help to build communities at both the state and local level.
We're really proud to say today over 70 percent of Americans do own their own homes.
Couple of the programs that HUD does focus on, we are very excited this year, we are focusing on our Federal Housing Administration, modernizing some of our programs to help support that -- that mission of HUD and that is to increase homeownership, and we're modernizing the program to ensure that all Americans have access to a safe mortgage product at a fair price. And we are building some flexibility into our mortgage insurance program.
Flexibility in terms of mortgage terms and loan terms, which again we hope to use to increase homeownership across the U.S. Also some of our other programs are Public and Indian Housing Area. We are providing housing authorities with more flexibility to help to service lower and middle income personnel, help them get affordable housing.
In our Community and Planning Development group, now, we're helping to rebuild the Gulf Coast by providing grants and loans and other support in that area.
Mr. Morales: Great, I do want to talk a little bit later on about your work down in the Gulf area, but can you tell us a little bit about the mission and scope of your office, specifically within HUD, and give us a sense of the size of the budget you have and how many employees are in your organization?
Ms. Schlosser: Okay. The Chief Information Officer, we have about $300 million budget which we spend on using technology to help support the mission and goals -- the business goals of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
We have approximately 300 folks who are providing the support, everything from developing policy, investment processes, developing an enterprise architecture, and supporting our businesses in developing the systems that help them provide support and also to accomplish their missions in supporting homeownership and some of the other goals I mentioned.
Mr. Morales: Now, Lisa, can you describe your role as a chief information officer and what are your official responsibilities?
Ms. Schlosser: My role as HUD's information -- chief information officer, obviously, is to ensure that HUD capitalizes on the use of modernized technology to support our three main goals and missions within HUD, that's to increase homeownership and ensure that everyone has access to affordable housing and also to build communities and provide support to community development.
So again, our primary functions there are we develop the policies and develop the -- and implement the investment processes to make sure that we are spending our money wisely and spending money on technology that's truly going to help us further our business goals across the department.
The other major goal and major role that we have within the Chief Information Office is to ensure the security and the privacy of the information that we hold and collect.
Mr. Morales: Lisa, we understand that you came to this role after serving as Associate Chief Information Officer at the Department of Transportation for both Security and Investment Management. How did these experiences impact your current role?
Ms. Schlosser: By serving in the Department of Transportation before coming to HUD, I was really able to see and get across agency perspective and really see how many commonalities, even though we really have different missions within the federal government architecture.
We really have a lot of commonalities among the agencies, so by serving in that role and then serving in the role at HUD, I was able to see how we could capitalize and work together and collaborate on different opportunities, both at the business level and especially, at the system level, by collaborating together on common systems as opposed to having to go out and build individual systems. We were able to work together with other agencies and see where there are commonalities.
Mr. Morales: Lisa, we also understand that you spend a portion of your career working in the technology field in the private sector. How has this affected your perspective at HUD?
Ms. Schlosser: Well, I think by working in the private sector always gives you an advantage as a chief information officer within the federal government. You are able to see both perspectives. You are able to work and negotiate better with the private sector, kind of, understand where both parties are coming from.
And I think you are able to negotiate better successes for both the private sector and the government side on the various partnerships we work, and it really comes down to a good partnership between your industry partners and the government is what equates to success on some of our big computer system development projects.
Mr. Morales: Lisa, prior to the show, you had mentioned that you were in the military at one point in time, and in fact, are still are in the U.S. Reserves. How is this experiencing adding to your capabilities at HUD?
Ms. Schlosser: Well, again, it's by seeing how different agencies operate you can kind of take the best of the best, take the best practices, the best solutions from the various agencies you've been to, and bring those experiences.
So for example, the Department of the Army has an incredible portal, Army Knowledge Online, and we've been able to capitalize on that model based on my experiences there to help lead us towards a better solution at HUD, so we are able to capitalize on that as opposed to having to reinvent the wheel, on using that type of technology.
Mr. Morales: Great. What steps is HUD taking on the President's Management Agenda? We will ask Chief Information Officer, Lisa Schlosser, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.
Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Al Morales, and this morning's conversation is with HUD Chief Information Officer, Lisa Schlosser.
Also joining us in our conversation is Pete Boyer, Director of Federal Civilian Programs at IBM.
Lisa, we understand that you've emphasized a few goals for your organization in 2006. Could you share these goals with our listeners?
Ms. Schlosser: Sure. One of the first things, really, that we wanted to tackle at HUD is to really improve our processes. Again, make sure that all of our investments in information technology really truly support our business goals at HUD, as I mentioned before. So one of our first goals was, you know, to improve our processes and I think that's been demonstrated by getting to green on the President's Management Agenda.
So, you know, as of last quarter, HUD was one of only five cabinet-level agencies that was at a green status on the President's Management Agenda in e-government.
So we are very proud of that and we think that reflects that we have really focused on improving our processes, improving security, ensuring that we have a good architecture to work against. So that's -- really, our first goal was to do that and we're continuing to improve those processes.
Secondly, we've been focusing on the modernization of our backend infrastructure, upgrading our desktop computers, upgrading our mainframe systems, upgrading our servers, making sure that we had state-of-the-art technology using open standards platforms so we are more flexible in responding to our business needs as our programs are changing, as our programs are being modernized.
The third goal was really to focus on implementing something we are calling Vision 2010, which is our information technology strategy, bottom-line being that we want to get off of our old antiquated systems over the -- by the year 2010, so that we are in a purely open type environment using web services capitalizing on service oriented architecture.
So that's the three main goals that we're focusing on within HUD in the information technology arena.
Mr. Morales: I like to expand a little bit more on the President's Management Agenda in your efforts to get to green on e-government. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the activities that you undertook to get there and what some of the next steps may be?
Ms. Schlosser: Well, I think with any initiative like that the first step is always to get the support of the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary and the key business leaders, the key executives in the organization. And one of the things, I -- since, I've been at HUD that I've noticed is that there are executives from the Secretary, the Deputy and each of our assistant secretaries and deputy assistant secretaries, they really truly understand technology, they understand the power of technology and how to use that to really improve the way they deliver their programs.
So right off the bat, they were very supportive of all the goals of the President's Management Agenda, you know, using e-government, using shared services where we can, investing in new modernized technology and helping us go through that changed management process and helping to get folks to accept the new technology within the organization.
So it was really the first step, and then we had a very, very clear outline, clear goals, clear milestones. We focused on our capital planning process, you know, again, making sure that we have good investments; we have a good process to evaluate how we are investing money in information technology.
We also worked very hard with Dick Burk in the Office of Management and Budget and adopted all the models that have been put out from there for enterprise architectures. So we have a real strong architecture, we build to a consistent architecture, consisting group of standards.
We've shared those standards with all of our partners across HUD on our various development efforts. The third thing in, not necessarily in priority of course, this was actually overriding, is we really worked hard to improve our information technology security program.
We focused on really understanding where all our systems were and what our systems were doing, where the data was within our systems, we focused on certification, accreditation of systems, i.e., assessing the risk to those systems in putting in the right solutions to mitigate those risks, whether it was new policy or other type of technical controls.
So we accomplished those goals, we got all our systems 100 percent certified and accredited, we spend a lot of time training our folks within HUD. 96 percent of our folks go through mandatory training every year. 96 to 100 percent of our contractors also complete security training.
So we focused on those main areas of the President's Management Agenda, and I think through that executive commitment as well as the clear focus on milestones and goals, we were able to accomplish the green status.
Mr. Morales: Lisa, you mentioned modernizing HUD's business systems, how are you prioritizing the systems being modernized, and related to that, how are you involving the business owners in the modernization process?
Ms. Schlosser: Oh, we are starting with the Secretary's Strategic Plan, so for the first time, HUD has actually incorporated a specific strategic goal within the Secretary's Strategic Plan that specifically states that HUD will use and capitalize on modernized technology to improve the way we deliver our services to our stakeholders, be it a business, be it a citizen, be it another government agency.
So everything really starts from that strategic plan, it starts from that strategic objective, and then we have a very sophisticated process where we involve all of our business leaders at the program levels, our Community and Planning Development folks, our Federal Housing Administration, our Public and Indian Housing.
We collaborate together to determine what should be enterprise wide solutions for HUD. For example, this year we invested in a new collaboration tool. We invested in enterprise wide Correspondence Tracking and Document Management System, and then we work with each of the individual business leaders, each of the individual programs to identify their key business goals.
So for example, Federal Housing Administration has just initiated these new efforts to modernize the way they provide loan insurance to citizens, again with the goal of increasing homeownership, so -- because that is the top goal -- one of the top goals of the Department, the top business goals of FHA.
We are also prioritizing their system development needs to ensure that their systems are ready to deliver those new innovative programs.
Mr. Morales: And how are you tracking progress?
Ms. Schlosser: We track progress several ways. Every single one of our programs is accounted for in our Capital Planning and Investment Control process, and on a monthly basis we do program reviews with our business partners with the system owners for each of the projects and the project managers, and we track adherence to cost, schedule, and performance objectives for each of those programs.
So if we see any variance in staying within 10 percent cost goal, or 10 percent schedule goal, or not meeting the business objectives, you know, we do that through a series of surveys through customer participation.
Then we would put a program on a watch list and just try to get it back on track by putting additional resources, whatever it took to mitigate the risks of that program. So that's the way we watch over them.
Mr. Morales: All right. Lisa, you're seen as a leader in adopting enterprise architecture. How are your enterprise architecture efforts supporting the speedy modernization process?
Ms. Schlosser: Well, if you do enterprise architecture right, you start with the business process, so by really understanding what your business processes are, and then what the key goals of the business leaders are, you can really take that then to the next level.
Understand where you have any gaps in providing good technology solutions to your business, identify where you have any issues with that technology, and be able to make fixes based on those identified gaps or issues.
And so by having a good perspective on your business process, by understanding where technology is or isn't supporting those business processes, you can really use your architecture to know where you need to invest or where you need to focus on for your business.
Mr. Morales: Lisa, we know that HUD has adopted a service oriented and component based approach to enterprise architecture enabling HUD to "build once and use often." Could you elaborate on this approach?
Ms. Schlosser: Sure, again, what we've done is, we've really used the enterprise architecture principles that have been set out by Office of Management and Budget and other professional organizations.
We've really analyzed our business and we looked for gaps that could be filled, you know, or closed, performance gaps that could be closed by the use of technology and as part of our process in doing that, we just don't automatically go out and build a new system. We look across our enterprise and determine if there is technology in our enterprise that can mitigate, you know, a performance gap.
Our second part of our process is that we go and look across the government, and look at different repositories, work with other government agencies, determine whether there is other good practice solutions that we can capitalize on, and take advantage of those systems. Instead of again building our own, we're happy to outsource to other services that exist across the government.
Mr. Morales: Okay. What lessons have you learned when developing EA blueprints that you could pass on to the other government leaders who might be listening?
Ms. Schlosser: First and foremost, the most important thing is that enterprise architecture is about your business, and you have to make it real to your business, and demonstrate to your business partners, both internally and externally that you understand what their business is, and that you're using their business to drive the systems that you're developing or the technology that you're investing in.
Mr. Morales: Lisa, on the scene of business, over the last few years, there have been a number of federal government initiatives, including lines of business and centers of excellence. Could you speak to HUD's involvement in some of the important new focus areas and how these initiatives are affecting HUD's progress forward?
Ms. Schlosser: As I mentioned earlier, HUD's strategy is to take advantage of crosscutting services anywhere in the government to help close our performance gaps and to help support our business. So we were happy to see e-government solutions and other shared services come about and in fact HUD was one of the early adopters of the pay and personnel.
We have outsourced our pay and personnel to the National Finance Center, very happy with the service we are getting there. We have outsourced our human resource systems and worked with the Department of Treasury, used their shared service for human resource systems, and we also take advantage of the Environmental Protection Agency's online rulemaking service.
So we are a big adopter, we share these services, we use these crosscutting government services, where it makes sense for our business, particularly, in non-core mission areas.
Mr. Morales: And you found that this has been a pretty good program for HUD?
Ms. Schlosser: It's absolutely been a great program. In one particular case, in one of these programs, we spent two years on development of a new system; when we decided to go to the crosscutting service, we had it implemented within six months.
Mr. Morales: Wow! That's incredible. How is HUD preparing its systems for emergency response needs? We will ask Chief Information Officer, Lisa Schlosser, to explain this to us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.
Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host Al Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Chief Information Officer, Lisa Schlosser from HUD.
Also joining us in our conversation from IBM is Pete Boyer, Director of Federal Civilian Programs.
Lisa, we know that HUD like many other organizations faces IT challenges from a number of fronts, including requirements to quickly respond to policy and result in system changes from events such as, in your case, FHA reform or natural disasters such as the hurricanes from last year.
How has HUD reacted to these challenges from a systems perspective, and how can industry help to prepare the Department to be able to react quickly and efficiently to these evolving IT changes?
Ms. Schlosser: Well, HUD's really been investing in standard open architecture using web services, using standard reporting formats, using standard information sharing protocols and formats as well.
And we've found, since we've been investing in this type of standard spaced architecture, we're able to share information quicker, we're able to make changes quicker to our systems to accommodate a lot of changes that are happening today. Everything from responding to various hurricanes across the country, other natural disasters, and program changes.
So I would say that's the first thing that we are really focusing on is using open standards, using commercial off-the-shelf products as much as possible, so that we can rapidly put in place new systems to adapt to these changing business requirements.
And also not from a policy perspective, we did, as we talked about earlier, invest quite a bit in ensuring we had a good business based enterprise architecture, so we know where to invest our funding, and we're investing in the areas where we anticipate we will have to make system changes quicker.
And that's where we are investing in the -- in the, you know, commercial off-the-shelf packages as much as possible, you know, where we're investing in web services and using web and portal technology to its fullest capabilities.
In terms of how industry really can support us, to continue to really understand our business, to understand our business processes, and to develop the commercial off-the-shelf products that we can rapidly integrate in kind of a plug-and-play type scenario into our environment.
So we can rapidly take advantage of technology so we can shorten lifecycles, you know, from the traditional years of development to the six months that we are starting to see.
When you have a new business requirement, you can capitalize on the COTS product on our web services, a portal type technology, so that's what we need to continue to have from our industry partners.
And a tight collaboration in sharing of best practices and bringing best practices that the industry has seen, you know, across the government, in other agencies bringing those solutions to us and helping us identify and capitalize on other shared services that could help to meet our business requirements quicker than before.
So for example, you know, HUD has, as I mentioned earlier, our Community and Planning Development group has really taken the lead in providing a lot of support in rebuilding communities in the Gulf Coast, and we rapidly put in place a web-based system with a series of controls to track and report on that funding, and to get the grants out, for example, quicker than we ever have before using again a web based technology, using open standards.
We can get that information out, we can get reporting and we can get access, secure access to the right people at the right time using that technology
Mr. Morales: Lisa, I'm sure one of the hot buttons for most CIOs these days is the issue around information technology security, and certainly, it's been in the news quite a bit these past few weeks and months with a variety of penetrations and stolen laptops, which cause a variety of major problems within different government agencies, and it fuels our citizen's concerns over issues such as identity theft. What does this mean at HUD and how has the Agency reacted to these types of events?
Ms. Schlosser: It's interesting about HUD, like I said, I think, earlier is, I've been there about a year-and-a-half, just a little bit more than that now, and one of my observations about the leadership at HUD is they're very aware of technology, capitalize on technology and not just technology itself, but also information security.
The Deputy Secretary who I worked for, Deputy Secretary Bernardi is very, very supportive of information technology security. In fact, when he started reading about some of these incidents, the first thing he did is call me, and say, "Lisa, what can we do to mitigate our risk?"
And fortunately, because we've had this support at that level, the support of our business leaders, we've actually been improving our security over the past, you know, since I've been there, certainly, at HUD.
And a couple of things that we've been doing other than the executive support, we really have focused on making sure we have a good solid inventory of systems, and eliminating redundant system, where we didn't need them.
There is not use having a system, just to have a system, so where we didn't need it, you know, we've decreased the systems or combined systems or reengineered to one platform, so less systems, obviously, I think you can have a better handle on security.
The other thing HUD really has an advantage on, and one of the really critical success factors, I believe, in protecting your data, is to have a centralized architecture, a centralized network, one helpdesk operation, one network, one way that you go ahead and implement patches across your environment by pushing a button basically.
HUD has that advantage, we are centralized. Again, we have one network, we have one helpdesk, we have one infrastructure, and I think that's been a real benefit to us.
We are able to have a standard image on every single one of our servers, on every single one of our desktops, so if a new virus comes out, we are able to implement the patch very, very quickly after we test it throughout our environment.
Other things that HUD's done obviously when some of these incidents started to occur, you know, we went out and we did a review of all our programs.
We updated our data architecture, just to make sure we truly understood where all our data was, where there was potential Personally Identifiable Information or PII, you will hear that term. And we made sure we had the right protection and controls in place.
We also went out and retrained all of our folks that had mobile access to HUD systems or to data, put in place strong policies about removing that data from HUD and had our user sign statements indicating that they realize their responsibilities in protecting that information.
So we've been very proactive as with most of the agencies now in putting in measures or enhancing the measures we already had in place to improve security.
Mr. Boyer: Lisa, on a different subject, one of your roles is to serve as both a member of the HUD Technology Investment Board Executive Community or TIBEC, and to coordinate the efforts of the TIBEC. Could you tell our listeners about the HUD TIBEC, for example, what criteria does the TIBEC use to evaluate the portfolio?
Ms. Schlosser: HUD has a governance process in place that's also embedded in policy where we have, what's called a, actually, a technology investment board working group that consists of individuals representing each of our key business areas within HUD.
This group gets together, establishes what our business goals are for the year, based on the strategic plans and others things we've talked about, and this group also goes out to each of the programs, asks for the programs, anybody who wants to invest in technology to put together a business case to justify why they need investment dollars.
The group then evaluates each of those business cases against the set of criteria as you just asked about, Pete, and in this case, this year -- this criteria change based on, you know, our business needs or you know, the direction of the Secretary or the Office of Management and Budget at the time.
This year, for example, we had a very clear set of criteria. Every single business case was evaluated against how well it met the new strategic objectives of the Department.
So, for example, did the proposed investment or business case support the FHA modernization program, did it support the Public and Indian Housing modernization programs, did it support some of our internal modernization programs, you know, or how well did it support those programs, was there a qualified program manager, you know, assigned or proposed for that project, okay.
If that project had been ongoing, was it meeting its cost schedule and performance goals? Was it showing value to the business of HUD and showing good business outcomes? And did the program or the project, is it taken into account, does it understand security and how it's going to protect the security of the data that will be embedded in that system.
Once that group pretty much puts together and evaluates each of the projects. In our case, we have about 13 major projects that get evaluated and another 50 non-major programs that are evaluated. The group gets together and decides which get funded and how much.
And then this is presented to what we call, as you mentioned, Pete, the Technology Investment Board Executive Committee, and that's the TIBEC. And the TIBEC is comprised of deputy secretary chairs that the CIO is a member, the Chief Financial Officer is a member, the Chief Acquisition Officer, and of course, each of our assistant secretaries is also a member and the General counsel.
So the budget is presented to that group and the group says, "Aye" or "Nay" on that particular budget and then the CFO takes that budget, and then incorporates it as part of the Secretarial budget, so everybody really has a say in where those dollars get invested and to what priorities those dollars get invested in.
Mr. Boyer: Now, how has this process changed the outcome of HUD's systems?
Ms. Schlosser: I think by having the business folks involved at a couple of different levels in the governance process -- it's not that just the Chief Information Officer obviously making these decisions, it's the business folks.
And so I think our systems are becoming more valuable or becoming more a critical part of the success of our programs, and I think you're starting to see some really positive business outcomes based on our enhanced use of modernized technology that's been derived from this process.
So I will give you two quick examples, I mentioned that obviously one of our goals in HUD is to increase homeownership. Well, we do that primarily through our loan insurance programs, so one of the areas that our businesses last year wanted to invest in was to automate or electronic the process whereby we get submissions on loans from the lender community.
It used to be that the lenders would submit a loan application to HUD in a paper-based format, which resulted in millions of pieces of paper a year. While, as of last year, we made that an electronic process.
So we cut processing time by 20 percent, cut costs by approximately 30 percent for that processes, so ultimately those reduced costs equate to quicker processing of applications, and getting loan insurance and ultimately loans to the citizen quicker than ever before.
Another quick example, I think, all government programs tried to increase efficiency in the way that we give out payments to recipients of our programs. In the past couple of years, HUD put in a system to help to ensure that our funding for various programs only went to qualified individuals or qualified organizations.
We put in a new database that we actually worked with HHS and SSA on, and we've reduced improper payments on this particular program by 57 percent just by using modernized shared technology.
Mr. Boyer: What are your next steps for the TIBEC?
Ms. Schlosser: We continue to improve the process in the TIBEC. We are increasing the representation of the business community, so our housing leaders, for example, Federal Housing Administration leaders are even more engaged than in the past in that process.
And I think you will ultimately see more and more our systems really supporting good solid business outcomes in measurable performance improvements in HUD's programs.
Mr. Boyer: Now, in our research for the program, we noticed your website includes significant information about the IT development cycle at HUD. Could you tell us about this information?
Ms. Schlosser: Well, we'd like to post the information to -- so that all of our partners really who help us develop these systems really understand what our processes are and how they can build systems to support, you know, to support HUD using a very standard, you know, standards based process.
So we do make sure we keep that updated, we make sure that it's out there so that anybody who would like to participate or bid on a HUD program has access to the methodology that we use and can apply that methodology to their solutions.
Mr. Boyer: Now, how has posting this information changed the activities or outcomes at the OCIO?
Ms. Schlosser: Oh, as we post more and more, we're finding that we're getting solutions that really fit into our architecture. We're -- it's really resulting in a fewer redundant systems. It's also resulting in better lifecycle delivery of new systems development.
Mr. Morales: Lisa, we also noticed that you've included a fair amount of information regarding privacy. What information is available for HUD customers? And when does your officer interact with the Chief Privacy Officer?
Secondly, we also complete something called a Privacy Impact Assessment on every single one of our computer systems, so the documents, what information we collect, what might constitute privacy information, and we post the results of those assessments on our internet sites.
So anybody -- anybody in the public can have access and understand where and how HUD is either collecting or again using privacy act or personally identifiable information.
Mr. Morales: What does the future hold for HUD? We will ask Chief Information Officer, Lisa Schlosser, to discuss this with us, when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.
Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host Al Morales, and this morning's conversation is with HUD Chief Information Officer, Lisa Schlosser.
Also joining us in our conversation is Pete Boyer, Director of Federal Civilian Programs at IBM.
Lisa, what trends will have the largest impact at HUD and its customers in the next ten years? And how will HUD need to adapt to meet these changes?
Ms. Schlosser: I think first and foremost, as I mentioned a couple of times -- several times throughout the interview, that our primary mission is obviously to increase homeownership opportunities, provide affordable housing, and help build communities, and invest in communities.
And so obviously the direction of the housing market and the economy related to the housing market really impacts our business first and foremost, and that's what we have to plan for and react to as time goes on.
Second major trend, of course, which none of us can predict is disasters. What kind of disasters are we going to have? What areas of the country, and how can we provide the quickest support to getting folks into temporary housing, working with various agencies to do that, and also to rebuild any communities that are impacted by disasters as we go through.
Mr. Morales: Lisa, HUD, like many other federal agencies, is currently dealing with a reduction in budgets. How will the OCIO's Office incorporate budget reductions into modernizing planning in other ITI efforts?
Ms. Schlosser: Well, obviously, we have to continue to get better and better and again as I mentioned earlier, we've really worked on our investment processes, and we've really made sure that we have included our businesses and our strategic goals of the Department into our planning process for Information Technology Investments.
We will continue to do that. We will always have a handle on what the business priorities of the Department are, what the key priorities, again, from the business perspective are, and we will invest where the priorities are the highest.
And also we will invest where it makes good sense on the technology side, where we can build once and service many different programs at once.
So the way we will confront those things is through again better understanding of the business and consistent understanding of the changes in the environment impacting our business and also understanding the technology that's available where we can share technology to get the biggest bang for our buck.
Mr. Boyer: Lisa, on a related topic, there are many exciting technologies that are vogue in the marketplace today, such as SOA, that promise significant advantage in cost savings and improve systems integration. Could you please describe HUD's plans for future technologies and investments?
Ms. Schlosser: Certainly, the service-oriented architecture principles as we talked about before are something we want to continue to look at, continue to invest in.
Obviously, we want to share services, build once and service many, capitalize on economies of scale, you know, actually, use the products in an environment to service multiple business needs is what we want to continue to do.
And specifically, from a technology standpoint, we want to incorporate web services technology. We want to web-enable all of our business applications, so any stakeholder, be it a business, another government agency, or the citizen can access the HUD information that they need when they need it, and customize it to their particular needs, and their particular requirements.
And government-wide, HUD is also going to, you know, ensure that we invest in moving towards Internet Protocol Version 0.6, and we're going to take advantages of smartcards and other technology solutions on the horizon, better and quicker encryption.
The third thing that we really want to do is capitalize on the power of wireless at many levels where we can. We have an increasingly mobile workforce. We have less funding for travel. We have less funding for government employees, so we really want to be efficient about the way we use technology.
I really see remote access web mobile type solutions, handhelds, some of the other technology that gets our mobile workforce connected no matter where they are, they can access securely HUD resources that they need to do their business.
Mr. Morales: Now, related to that, how much of HUD's workforce is mobile today?
Ms. Schlosser: That's -- it's hard to pin on an exact percentage of how much. I would say somewhere between maybe 30 to 40 percent of HUD's workforce travels to conduct inspections, you know, to promote some of our homeownership opportunities. So I would estimate, though roughly, 30 to 40 percent of our folks out there needs some sort of mobile capability, but you also have to consider really your whole workforce as a potentially mobile workforce really.
In the event of a disaster, and in the event that you have to deploy rapid response teams to a disaster area, you have to assume that anytime, anyplace, you can enable your people with a wireless solution, tele-working, obviously.
You need to build in remote access capability, so for example, HUD's implemented a web basis remote access solution. We use the mobile computers, obviously, that are wirelessly connected, so again, we do equip our mobile workforce and we are prepared to equip more of our workforce as more mobility is needed down the line.
Mr. Boyer: Now, Lisa, we talk with many of our guests about the government employee pending retirement wave. How are you handling the retirement wave?
Ms. Schlosser: Well, a couple of things, the Department overall has really an incredible intern program. We bring in -- I think we probably had a couple of 100 interns this year from various programs, from various universities across the nation, and we have a structured program where we bring these folks in, we offer them training throughout their time here as an intern. We really invest in the interns because we want them to come back, we want them to be HUD employees.
Within the Office of the Chief Information Officer, we have an Emerging Leaders Programs, where we meet on a quarterly basis with some of our emerging leaders. And we train them on various things, not just technology, but we train them on how to be good leaders, you know, what to expect from their leaders.
How to be good program or project managers and to understand the technology. We also spend a lot of time teaching them about the business of the government and about the business of HUD, so we want them to get invested, to be excited about the incredible mission and opportunities that we have, so that they come in and so we have a workforce that's ready to move up the ranks, you know, as some of our other members of our workforce get ready and actually do retire.
Mr. Boyer: Lisa, we also talk to many of our guests about the topic or on the topic of collaboration. What kinds of partnerships are you developing now and how will these partnerships between HUD other federal agencies or the private sector change over time?
Ms. Schlosser: Well, I think we're finally really getting into a mindset across the federal government that it does really make sense to collaborate on areas of commonality and I think collaboration will continue to grow.
I think e-government initiatives from the current administration has -- have really opened our eyes to wow! you know, we really do have a common need. We do have a common way we can do this particular business and of course, that translates into technology that we -- we really can capitalize more on shared services across the government.
I think a couple of areas where you're seeing even more collaboration is say in the disaster recovery arena, HUD works very closely with the Veteran's Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture on making sure that we can take personnel and get them into housing as quick as possible and help to build the community, so you're seeing a good collaboration occur there.
We've also -- in that particular case, we've also put -- worked together with those two agencies. We have kind of common housing mission areas.
We put together a website called homesales.gov, where we list any properties that the government owns that we would like to sell, we list it on those websites, and anybody is able to get to that website, make an offer on those homes, or at least pursue how to make an offer, if they're interested.
So it's been a very good opportunity to work together to get that information out. I mentioned a program earlier, Enterprise Income Verification, where the Social Security Administration, Health and Human Resources have gotten together and shared a database that has income data from various recipients of federal programs, and by building that database once and sharing it, we have increased the quality, we have reduced the improper payment.
So there is some real tangible, quantitative benefits of collaborating particularly as we've been talking about in the area of information technology. Again, you build it once let multiple folks use it and you can really create some efficiencies in your process and some cost savings.
Mr. Morales: Lisa, you've certainly enjoyed a very exciting and distinguished career and you've made the migration from the private sector over to public service. What advice could you give to a person who is interested in a career in public service?
Ms. Schlosser: Well, I'd say, first thing is to really understand what aspect of government you'd like to get involved with. There are various opportunities out there, specifically, in the area of security type career fields. Always opportunities in the information technology, and my best advice would be to capitalize on usajobs.gov.
It's a great website, a great resource. It lists opportunities, talks you through what a career in the government is like and it definitely lists all the different job opportunities that are available across the United States, you know, in a variety of different areas of expertise as well.
So I would encourage folks to periodically look at usajobs.gov, and take advantage of the opportunities that are listed there.
Mr. Morales: Great, that's fantastic. Unfortunately, we have reached the end of our time. I do want to thank you for fitting us into your busy schedule, but more importantly, Pete and I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to the public and our country in the various roles you've held in public office, as well as in the U.S. Army.
Ms. Schlosser: Thanks and I appreciate you taking the time to have me here today, and allowing me to share some of the things that HUD's doing. Obviously, HUD's continuing to, what we think, provide a great service to the American public, homeownership, that's the American -- that's America's dream, right, it's to own a home.
And the mere fact that now over 70 percent of the American citizens do own their own home, I think is quite a testimony to Secretary Jackson, Assistant Secretary Brian Montgomery, the head of Federal Housing Administration, and other key leaders within HUD, and I think you're going to see some exciting things coming out of HUD.
They are really going to help people even have more opportunities for homeownership, modernization programs within the Federal Housing Administration.
That's going to allow more flexibility to first time -- particularly, first time homebuyers, and I encourage everyone to look for those programs, look for those opportunities.
Again, I thank you for asking me to be here today.
Mr. Morales: Great. We look forward to your continued success. This has been The Business of Government Hour featuring a conversation with Chief Information Officer of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Lisa Schlosser.
Be sure to visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There you can learn more about our programs, and get a transcript of today's conversation.
Once again, that's businessofgovernment.org.
As you enjoy the rest of your day, please take time to remember the men and women of our armed and civil services abroad who can't hear this morning's show on how we're improving their government, but who deserve our unconditional respect and support.
For The Business of Government Hour, I'm Al Morales. Thank you for listening.