HUD Officially Moves to Next Phase of Centers of Excellence Program

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After 20 months of analysis under Phase I, Housing and Urban Development announced the first two awards to begin improving the agency’s cloud adoption and customer experience.

The oldest agency partnership with the General Services Administration’s Centers of Excellence is starting Phase II of the program with two contract awards announced Monday.

The Housing and Urban Development Department is an elder statesman in the CoE program, joining in September 2018 as the second agency to sign up. The Agriculture Department was first to sign up in December 2017 but wrapped its work with the CoEs in September.

The CoE program works in two phases. During the first phase, subject experts and contractors from each center work with program managers and leaders at the respective agency to identify specific problems and map a way forward. The second phase kicks off the hands-on work, with contracts and task order awards.

As the final steps for Phase I, HUD issued six requests for quotations in late 2019 across four CoE areas, including cloud adoption, contact centers, customer experience and data analytics.

Monday, GSA and HUD announced awards for two of those efforts. The cloud adoption contract was awarded to Systems Engineering Solutions Corporation and the customer experience contract was awarded to Booz Allen Hamilton.

“We view our partnership with the GSA CoE as an important step in helping HUD achieve its mission of assisting the people and communities we serve,” HUD Chief Financial Officer Irv Dennis said Monday in a statement announcing the awards. “Specifically, the Customer Experience CoE will result in improved service delivery for our public housing agencies, grantees and other stakeholders.” 

In a 2018 interview with Nextgov after signing up with the CoE program, HUD Chief Information Officer David Chow said the agency’s cloud and customer experience efforts should be linked.

The two focus areas are “somewhat related” for HUD, he said. “It’s related to going through the process of re-engineering the grants process lifecycle,” a major component of HUD’s mission as an agency.

“In relation to that, cloud adoption [will] look at a technology that is already out in the market, doing the benchmarking and leveraging the business requirements coming from the grants lifecycle process, re-engineering and then start designing solutions based on the new process.”

While the solicitations awarded Monday do not specifically include the grants process, they are focused on using cloud-based systems to manage electronic records and datasets and improving the overall customer experience, respectively.

“HUD continues transforming its business processes by enhancing our digital ecosystem with cloud adoption,” Chow said Monday in the announcement. “We are looking to deploy a number of proofs of concept leveraging artificial intelligence, Forms as a Service, and records management.”

“These awards mark our important implementation phase milestone focused on delivering enhanced enterprise IT solutions across HUD,” CoE Executive Director Bob De Luca said. “Continuing our collaboration with HUD to advance customer-focused modernization efforts is the primary goal of our collaboration.”