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Monday, September 13, 2010

VA mismanaged FLITE contractor, according to IG

The Veterans Affairs Department mismanaged a contractor relationship which caused the department's Financial and Logistics Integrated Technology Enterprises (FLITE) program's Strategic Asset Management Pilot Project to struggle, according to a September 7 report from the VA's inspector general.

"FLITE program managers did not adequately monitor the contractor's performance and ensure that the Office of Information and Technology assigned legacy system programmers to the project in a timely manner," wrote Belinda Finn, deputy inspector general at the VA OIG. "They also did not develop written procedures that clearly defined roles and responsibilities related to interface development for contractor and VA personnel."

The report also found that VA would have had more success if it had engaged in side-by-side collaboration with General Dynamics Information Technology. Instead, VA missed key conference calls with the contractor and used written comments to provide feedback, which led FLITE to be poorly monitored, and roles and responsibilities of project managers to be confused.

In one result of mismanagement, the IG report found as of April 5, 2010, VA had accepted only two of 12 formal deliverables submitted by the contractor. According to the initial project schedule, FLITE program managers should have accepted eight of the formal deliverables three months prior to that date. In addition, General Dynamics' submission of the SAM Training Plan was due by January 11, 2010. It was first delivered on December 31, 2009, and it was not complete and accurate until March 22 of the following year, according to the report.

Finn recommended that:

• The assistant secretary for IT designate VA staff to formally review deliverables and submit comments according to a time line;

• The assistant secretary for IT develop and implement procedures to ensure improved collaboration; and

• The assistant secretary for IT encourage in-person attendance by key VA personnel at meetings, conferences and work sessions.

A July 13 announcement called for the cancellation of a financial management system overhaul, in favor of a series of smaller financial modernization projects, due to doubts over program execution, as well as re-prioritization of limited resources. IT management at the VA has been closely watched since the June 2009 establishment of the Program Management Accountability System, a program which aims to break the cycle of high-profile IT failures in the VA's recent past.

For more: read the IG report (.pdf)

-Molly Bernhart Walker, FierceGovernmentIT.com

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