THE MAGAZINE

The Heavy Burden of IT Infrastructure Upgrades

By Joseph Straw

Atlas was the Greek god who was condemned by Zeus to hold the world on his back. It’s also the name given to a huge program that has the goal of modernizing the information technology infrastructure at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The project consists of seven related IT projects. That’s a heavy load even for a titan.

As such, it’s not surprising that, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), “the program has not fully achieved many performance goals that it set out to accomplish over the past year.”

The report goes on to say that “there is much that still needs to be accomplished to minimize the risks associated with the program’s capacity to deliver promised IT infrastructure capabilities and benefits on time and within budget.”

GAO expresses concern that the independent verification and validation agent can participate in contract work, which could compromise that function’s objectivity. It also notes that until the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “demonstrates, through verifiable documentation and a methodologically based analysis, that ICE is aligned with the DHS enterprise architecture, the program will remain at risk of being defined and implemented in a way that does not support optimal departmentwide operations, performance, and achievement of strategic goals and outcomes.”

The GAO further notes a lack of transparent, documented, and traceable processes for inventorying and resolving risks related to the project. It calls for improved risk management activities. The GAO also calls for better adherence to guidelines for contract tracking and oversight, including clear statements of work to be done and acceptance criteria.

Read the full GAO assessment of the project.

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