The new Virginia Chief Information Officer (CIO), George Coulter, released plans to reorganize the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) in September. The reorganization comes after Coulter – who was announced the successor to Lemuel Stewart in August 2009 – inherited the problems accompanying the $1.9 billion contract with Northrop Grumman to privatize Virginia's IT infrastructure (GovWin Opportunity 33878). The contract, which was signed in 2005, has been highly publicized due to a series of failed attempts to meet contract deadlines. A missed deadline in April 2008 to complete a state inventory of computer equipment and services has created a trickle-down effect delaying the scheduled June 2009 turnover. Since then, Commonwealth employees have complained of poor customer service and the continued missed deadlines.
Already a private-sector veteran, Coulter joins VITA as the Commonwealth makes efforts to mend broken ties with Northrop Grumman. Coulter makes his reorganization with the hopes that in doing so, VITA will better meet executive agency needs. Northrop Grumman proposed contract revisions in August, which Coulter and VITA have yet to approve. Coulter hopes his reorganization plan will improve the interchange of information between state agencies and Northrop Grumman. The Virginia CIO's plan includes the elimination of three directorates, a strengthening in the customer service area, and also calls for a council of "agency IT and business leaders" that will allow for more direct feedback from state agencies in regards to their information technology needs. Coulter also hopes that Northrop Grumman will work with Virginia in changes made to the customer service arena so that things may run smoother throughout the rest of the contract.
While the contract in Virginia has led to some negative publicity for the top government contracting firm, Northrop Grumman recently won an extension to their contract with Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana. The $33.9 million four-year extension marks a success for the contractor in their abilities to privatize government IT infrastructures.
Attributing the missed deadlines to a series of communication errors, Coulter hopes his reorganization efforts will mend broken communication lines and allow for agencies to have a more audible voice in the transition process. Currently the Commonwealth and Northrop Grumman hope to have a full turnover completed by June 2010.