The Ten Worst Federal IT Programs, According to the Federal IT Dashboard

Today was the deadline for agencies to conduct their own TechStat review of their IT project portfolio.  And based on the data available from the Federal IT Dashboard, there’s some ‘splaining to be done.

On the whole, things don’t look so bad. While IT Dashboard tracks 805 portfolio programs in the Federal government, only 40  of those programs fall into the Dashboard’s red zone with a rating of 3.o (out of 10) or below.  And those programs amount to 5% of the federal government’s 2011 continuing resolution IT spending.

But that 5% is 2 billion dollars. And when Admiral Mullen is saying he’s reluctant to deploy ships because money is too tight, that’s $2 billion that might be useful someplace else.

The bottom 10 have the distinction of having a rating of less than 2.5 — and seven of them actually have a rating of 0.0.  That’s right–these programs are in such bad shape they don’t even push the needle off the pin at the end of the scale.  And here, in descending order, are the ignoble 10:

Department Portfolio Investment Name Spending in FY 2011 (in millions) Rating
Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits Legacy VETSNET-2012 $26.98 2.300803
Department of Transportation DOTXX127: Delphi Data Management Center (originally part of OSTXX001: Delphi) $7.91 2.26256
Department of Transportation DOTXX129: Delphi Version Two (originally part of OSTXX001: Delphi) $8.34 1.846669
Department of Veterans Affairs Medical 21st Century  Revenue Improvement and Systems Enhancements – 2012 (RISE) $0.00 0
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Time and Labor Modernization (TLM) $0.88 0
Department of Veterans Affairs Medical 21st Century CAPRI-2012 $6.26 0
Department of Veterans Affairs Medical 21st Century Registries-2012 $11.82 0
Department of Homeland Security FEMA – NFIP Information Technology Systems & Services $23.41 0
Department of Veterans Affairs Corporate 21st Century SAM (former FLITE)-2012 $36.18 0
Department of Veterans Affairs Medical 21st Century Development Core-2012 $76.82 0
Department of Transportation FAAXX504: En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) $220.01 0


One of these programs, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ Medical 21st Century  Revenue Improvement and Systems Enhancements – 2012 (RISE), isn’t out of the starting blocks yet–it’s still in pre-procurement phase, but has already been singled out by Vivek Kundra and VA CIO Roger Baker.  The worst of the lot, however, is the FAA’s En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) program, the next-generation flight routing system that has fallen far behind its deployment schedule.  In the words of the Department of Transportation’s own assessment:

“Due to operational issues ERAM deployment is behind schedule and the ERAM Improvement Plan has been developed. This Plan describes what FAA has completed to date to achieve sustained operations at the two key sites and what approach will be taken to resume the schedule for deployment of the remaining 18 sites. The plan is to achieve Initial Operational Capability Operations (IOC) at 7 sites during FY2011, 6 sites during FY2012 and the remaining 7 sites by the end of FY2013. The investment will go to the Joint Resources Council in June 2011 to rebaseline to extend the current program segment from 2011-2014 and establish the next useful segment.”

Under the continuing resolutions, FAA has spent over $200 million thus far on the program, which is projected to extend out now to until 2020.  Sure, it’s a high-value program, and high value programs carry with them a certain amount of additional allowances for overcoming risks and overruns. But just where ERAM is en route to right now is anybody’s guess.