January 4, 2011

2010 Instilled Greater Transparency and Stakeholder Engagement at HUD

Written by:
Jerry Williams, Chief Information Officer, HUD
Cross posted from www.cio.gov Throughout the year, the Department worked closely with the Government Accountability Office and the Office of Management and Budget to make our IT investment priorities and our supporting management approach more visible and actionable. Towards this objective, we updated our IT investment framework to improve how we strategically prioritize, plan, and manage our IT investments. The new framework provides a structured yet flexible process that establishes baseline deliverables and tasks required from all projects, while customizing governance oversight and specialized deliverables based on a project’s size, cost, and risk. The new framework clearly distinguishes between the IT portfolio (the sum total of all IT projects and investments), IT investments (which are structured around functional lines of business), and IT projects (specific efforts designed to achieve concrete goals with definite beginning and end points). Having refined the investment process, we are looking forward to implementing it on all our projects in the coming year. I am proud of the work we have accomplished in this area and anticipate our internal customers and taxpayers will benefit for many years to come.

The second area of accomplishment that I’d like to note is our support for citizen and industry engagement under our Innovation and Open Government Initiative. This initiative not only supports the Open Government Directive but also is aligned to goals within the White House’s “25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management.” We have continued to execute on our Innovation and Open Government plans, including the roll-out of an “Innovation Lab,” to help encourage out-of-the-box thinking, creativity, and actionable solution-focused ideas throughout HUD.

One program at HUD that I think is primed for an especially exciting year in 2011 is HUD Ideas in Action, our open forum with the non-profit National Academy of Public Administration that enables employees and stakeholders to contribute and comment on new ideas. We here at HUD are very interested in sharing data and ideas with both the public and our employees across the nation. A public engagement tool like Ideas in Action offers a direct channel that enhances the flow of valuable ideas throughout our organization.

As ideas are generated, the Department will leverage the Innovation Lab and new mechanisms like prizes and challenges to implement solutions. One of the ways Congress is trying to spur new thinking is by approving legislation that will allow prizes for the best ideas. Just this last week Congress granted broad prize authority to all Federal agencies through passage of the America Competes Act. Within the HUD we will leverage this legislation to make innovative ideas a reality across the HUD missions. As the Department looks to leverage prizes and challenges, I am encouraged to see existing uses of these mechanisms within HUD today. HUD is currently partnering with Ashoka Changemakers, the State Department, and the American Planning Association for a challenge called “Sustainable Urban Housing: Collaborating for Liveable and Inclusive Cities.” Challenges like these, empowered by the America Competes Act, will also soon help our offices leverage creative problem-solving techniques and crowd-source the most effective solutions. I’m looking forward to working with program offices to explore what technology-based challenges may be ideal to help us solve some of our most pressing problems.

Both the White House and HUD have carved out ambitious IT reform plans for 2011 that will shine the light on what is working and is not working within the Federal Government. I am inspired by the vision we share to build strong communities. We will use our own ingenuity and engage both existing and new partners to ensure the best ideas are applied to more effectively perform HUD’s mission. I am reassured to know we’ll have the management discipline, problem-solving mechanisms, and engagement of our stakeholders to help us succeed.

As the new year begins and we look back over 2010, a couple of significant accomplishments come to mind. The first has to do with our efforts to increase the discipline with which we manage our investment in IT. We have made significant improvements in this area and these improvements are grounded in the principle that having a repeatable and structured approach to investment management will allow HUD to improve performance year over year.

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