To mark the June 9, 2012, completion milestone for Federal IT reform, I am pleased to highlight several DHS initiatives. Our focus includes shifting to a cloud-first policy, establishing strong governance of the Department’s IT investments, and the implementation of TechStats.
This article originally appeared as a blog post on the Federal CIO Council’s website. For more news and insights on innovations at work in government, please sign up for the AOL Gov newsletter. For the quickest updates, follow us on Twitter @AOLgov.
DHS is establishing a strong foundation for cloud computing services, shifting to a cloud model that will allow Components to quickly acquire services for their business and mission needs. DHS currently has 12 cloud services available to its customers. Nine are provided in the DHS Private Cloud:

  • Authentication as a Service (AUTHaaS)
  • Business Intelligence as a Service (BIaaS)
  • Case and Relationship Management as a Service (CRMaaS)
  • Development and Test as a Service (DTaaS)
  • Email as a Service (EaaS)
  • Production as a Service (PRDaaS)
  • Project Server as a Service (PSaaS)
  • SharePoint as a Service (SPTaaS)
  • Workplace as a Service (WPaaS)

Three are provided in the DHS Public Cloud:

  • Enterprise Content Delivery as a Service (ECDaaS)
  • Identity Proofing as a Service (IDPaaS)
  • Web Content Management as a Service (WCMaaS)

All except one are available for order and have Authority to Operate (ATO), meeting FISMA certification and accreditation standards. Meanwhile WPaaS is scheduled for ATO in August.

Already, DHS is seeing the benefits of notable usage of these “as a Service” offerings:

  • Approximately 30,000 users utilize SPTaaS
  • An initial 11,485 have migrated to EaaS
  • 70 percent of our websites have transitioned to ECDaaS, establishing High availability and an enhanced security posture, as well as establishing 14 IPV6-enabled websites
  • More than 100 applications use AUTHaaS for single sign on capability

Central to our efforts, WPaaS will replace traditional desktops and laptops with virtual computing. WPaaS provides as-needed operating systems and applications at monthly, pay-per-use service with scalability-all supported by a robust security model-that promises to reduce operating costs, increase operational flexibility, and simplify administrative management.

Our external milestones are notable too:

  • More than 60,000 U.S. workers have utilized IDPaaS to verify the status of their employment eligibility on E-Verify Self Check, a nationally available service that received the Excellence in Government award for Customer Service in March
  • Three public-facing websites are utilizing all Open Source software through the adoption of WCMaaS, with all primary websites expected to migrate within 18 months

In fact, DHS became a leader in putting the government’s Cloud-first policy into practice by awarding a task order using the General Services Administration’s (GSA’s) Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This contract is leading the transformation of Government-to-Citizen (G2C) services by establishing the DHS Public Cloud. This cost-effective, best-of-breed open source platform enables Web site and services hosting for,, and among others.

At DHS, our focus also includes establishing strong governance for our IT investments. We monitor IT programs through portfolio and program governance boards, Centers of Excellence, as well as Techstats.

All DHS IT investments are classified by 13 functional portfolios. Portfolios are groups of closely related investments and assets classified by major functions (such as screening and incident response) that support our five mission areas. These portfolios cross organizational boundaries helping us reduce duplication and identify synergies to support “OneDHS.”

Our governance boards ensure investments maintain alignment with the infrastructure’s segment architecture. Five portfolio governance boards are operational-the IT Services Governance Board (ITSGB) and the Information Sharing and Safeguarding Governance Board (ISSGB), Enterprise Human Capital, Intelligence, and Screening. We plan to set up the additional 8 portfolios by the end of FY2013.

ITSGB is a keystone in technology and infrastructure upgrades as well as operating procedures. ITSGB identifies strategies within the IT Services Portfolio and its seven domains of IT infrastructure-Data Centers, Software, Networks, Wireless, Sites, Desktop, and Help Desks. ITSGB evaluates cost-effective technologies that fill capability gaps that are common across the Department to minimize redundancy and reduce costs.

In addition to portfolios, we are conducting comprehensive assessments to align resources with strategic priorities. These assessments are designed to clearly focus programs on both their current status and the improvements necessary to ensure they successfully deliver the benefits promised. We have assessed 41 of our 83 major programs since January 2012, with assessments of the remaining programs slated for completion by August.

DHS is actively establishing Centers of Excellence (COEs) to support programs through bringing best practices, tools, and templates in key areas such as Requirements Engineering, Systems Engineering, and Test & Evaluation. These COEs provide proven expertise in different technical and managerial areas that support program execution. As an example, during the last six months, the Requirements Engineering (RE) COE addressed 22 major programs to assist in accomplishing RE life cycle activities. This outreach identifies and harvests proven practices, artifacts, and guidance, in turn building collaboration across DHS.

Finally, DHS has actively stood up the TechStat model during the past 18 months. The TechStat model improves transparency and enhances governance as we turn around or terminate underperforming projects.

Together, these fully integrated and functional IT governance processes create a framework that enables DHS to have direct visibility into all IT investments from concept through execution.

Richard A. Spires is chief information officer at the Department of Homeland Security and also serves as vice chairman of the Federal CIO Council. He also co-chairs the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative.