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Agencies cite progress six months after IT reform mandate

Six months after federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra issued his 25-point information technology reform plan, agencies are boasting improvements ranging from moving email and other services to the cloud to creating an online IT shop.

The Commerce Department, for instance, transferred some of its interactive online services to the cloud, allowing it to handle more than 5 million Web hits some weeks during the 2010 census rollout, the department said in a six-month update posted on the Chief Information Officers Council blog. That was the highest volume of Web traffic since the 2000 census, the update noted.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said it expects to triple the capacity of its Disability.gov website, which offers disabled workers information on benefits and other topics, and avoid up to 75 percent of its old bandwidth costs with a similar cloud move. And the Treasury Department has moved six of its websites, including its main site, Treasury.gov, to the cloud.

The CIO Council began posting the six-month updates on its blog June 1. As of Thursday, a few reports were still dribbling in, but the government's largest IT users, with the exception of the Defense Department, had submitted updates.

Kundra's office had already publicized many highlights of the updates, such as the 137 federal data centers that the agencies, collectively, expect to close by the end of this year and the 78 services they will move to the cloud by May 2012.

The documents fill in many details, though, including some agency-level dollar figures that had only been described in aggregate before.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, for example, expects to save $20 million over the next five years by moving its email system to the cloud.

USAID has also launched a cloud-based videoconferencing and file-sharing service across its international and domestic offices that logged 1,400 hours of use in March, up 20 percent from the month before, according to the agency's report.

The Transportation Department touted an "Amazon.com-like IT business catalog, a one-stop shop for basic, premium, and fee-for-service IT offerings" that it's in the process of developing for Transportation divisions.

"As this catalog is fully deployed, DoT users will have a single location to search, select, deploy, rate and provide feedback on IT services," the agency said. "Highly rated services will be expanded; low-rated services will be improved or retired."

Most agencies praised Kundra's TechStat review process, a sort of intense oral exam for the managers of over-budget or past-deadline IT projects that can result in the projects being drastically scaled down, frozen for further review or canceled entirely.

Many agencies have created an internal version of the TechStat process, though most only began holding sessions in March, according to the reports.

The Housing and Urban Development Department leads the pack, having conducted 22 TechStat sessions since the program was rolled out.

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