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May 13, 2015

IT Solutions Challenge 2015 Problem Description - Kimberly McCarthy

By Kimberly McCarthy


The goal of our team is to solve inefficiency in government due to a lack of standardization across IT policies and infrastructure. Even though our group is made up of six different government agencies across both IT and acquisition, the problems encountered in both sectors prove to be very similar and important. While it was straightforward to arrive at our goal, developing a clear problem statement was more difficult. Finding a solution that is relevant is difficult. There are many stakeholders and complexities to take into account when trying to implement change in the federal environment. Initially, we discussed the creation of a new Beta Agency, which would both model and implement the standardization of IT practices using Executive authority. After gathering stakeholder interview feedback and doing additional research, we found that there are several Federal entities that do this and we could try to leverage the work those groups already do.

We decided to narrow the scope of such a broad problem down to smaller, more manageable increments in order to meet the milestones and abide by the schedule of this challenge. We hope to create a prototype that can be implemented across the Federal government and then scaled up as the need arises.

Some of our proposed solutions to tackling inefficiencies across Federal agencies include standardizing cloud computing, moving legacy services to the cloud environment, and expanding shared services such as communication, financial, and human resource systems across agencies.

As we work to refine the problem and scope our solution, we are drawing on the best practices and guidance from the facilitators of the IT Solutions Challenge. One specific exercise that was very beneficial was when we reviewed and combined our individual interview research. We looked at feedback from ten stakeholders and then organized recurring themes into focus areas. This allowed us to objectively determine baseline issues that could be realistically achieved within the time frame given.

In sum, the processes by which we are using to work through defining our problem are changing our perspectives constantly and leaving us with an open mind as we search for the most impactful and feasible solutions.

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