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New Virginia CIO Reorganizes in Hopes of Resolving Contract Tension

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.

2016 Olympics in Chicago: Implications for the Public Safety Technology Market

In just a few days the International Olympic Committee will select a city to host the 2016 Olympics Games. The bid by Chicago to host the Games has received increased attention in the past months in part due to President Obama's support for his adopted hometown's case. While mention of the Olympics causes most sports fans to think of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, as a Public Safety market analyst my thoughts quickly turn to the radio systems, surveillance cameras and metal detectors that would be needed to protect the athletes, visitors and citizens of Chicago. An Olympic Games hosted by Chicago would present a huge opportunity for Public Safety Technology vendors looking to showcase their products on one of the biggest stages available.

If Chicago's bid is successful, all security activities for the games would be managed by the Chicago Olympic Public Safety Command (COPSC) which would combine federal, state and local agency resources under a single unified command. So the question for vendors is what type of products and services would COPSC need? In the short term, the services of consultants would likely be valuable in developing security strategies and product recommendations. The acquisition of state of the art interoperable communications, surveillance systems and intelligence fusion technology can be expected in the long term.

If Chicago manages to beat out Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo when the decision is announced October 2, 2009 expect GovWin to dive deeper into this topic.

The Trend Continues: Xerox Plans to Buy ACS

Following close on the heels of the news that Dell plans to acquire Perot Systems, Xerox announced that it too is getting in on the acquisition game. The company will purchase Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (ACS) for an estimated $6.4 billion. This acquisition will open the doors for Xerox to expand into administrative operations management for the federal government.

Xerox is the latest IT hardware company to snap up an IT services company. Last year HP acquired EDS for $13.9 billion and recently announced that it is dropping the EDS name. Like Dell and HP, Xerox has seen the writing on the wall - they must get into the services game to survive in the federal market.

According to data from the Federal Procurement Database System, over 72% of Xerox's $198 million in FY2008 federal prime contract obligations were for office machines, equipment, machinery and supplies. Professional services accounted for 10% of the total, while information technology accounted for only 7.5%. ACS brings information technology and professional services to the table ($218 million and $4.1 million respectively for FY2008). Clearly, the ACS acquisition brings Xerox into IT services game; with the shift from commodities to services in the federal government this was a necessary move.

This acquisition will allow Xerox to bring IT services into existing customers such as DoD, VA, Treasury and HHS. On the federal level, ACS does not share the same level of diversity in customers, at least at the prime contractor level. Over 97% ($216 million) of ACS' prime contract obligations for FY2008 were with the Department of Education and 1.8% ($4 million) with HHS. However, at the state and local level, ACS is a major player in the healthcare space with Medicaid Management Information Systems (MMIS). This expertise allows Xerox to expand its presence in the growing state and local Health IT market.

I suspect that we'll see this trend continue over the coming years as a result of economic and competitive pressures. The real question is: who's next?

An International Perspective on Health IT

A better understanding of health information technology (IT) implementation in leading countries such as Denmark, Finland and Sweden can help guide US adoption strategies.

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) held a Health IT Leadership event on September 22, 2009 which coincided with the release of the report titled, "Explaining International IT Application Leadership: Health IT". The focal point of both the report and event was reviewing lessons learned from the successful deployment of health IT in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. These Nordic countries are ahead of the curve and have utilized health IT as a platform for reforming their respective health care systems. Factors that have contributed to these countries success include:

  • National leadership directing strategic planning and coordination
  • Single-payer health care systems
  • Provider incentives
  • Government mandates
  • Country size
  • Structural issues, such as the number of vendors in the marketplace and size of medical practices
  • Societal and cultural factors
  • Privacy issues
  • Policies supporting telehealth
  • Shared health IT infrastructure
  • Standards-setting coordinating entity
  • Use of unique patient identifiers

ITIF has made the following recommendations to US policy makers on how to drive health IT adoption and best utilize economic stimulus funding based on their research:

  • Strong national-level leadership instead of a bottom-up strategy
  • Sufficient funding for health IT which may need to go beyond the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)
  • Stronger penalties
  • Invest in next generation technologies such as robotics and RFID
  • Build and share tools for health IT
  • Encourage health record data banks
  • Encourage patient-centric healthcare through personal health records (PHR)
  • Address legitimate privacy concerns
  • Identify and legitimate regulatory and other barriers to health IT adoption
  • Encourage "in silo" health research

The research and recommendations by ITIF provides new insights, as well as, reinforcing industry perspectives on how to move forward with health IT and reach health 3.0. The US has already begun work on several of the recommendations, including establishing national leadership through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and trending towards a more patient-centric health care system. These countries do have several advantages which the US lacks and therefore should be taken into consideration, such as, size and political environment. Further, the US is significantly larger with more complexities, including more vendors, stakeholders and competing interests. On the other hand, the US has more money to finance these initiatives. Finland, Sweden and Denmark also have the advantage of single payer systems which allow for greater government involvement and more easily aligns health IT goals. Nonetheless, these countries can serve as pilot studies from which there is a lot to be learned. Business opportunities for the vendor community will be found in initiatives that seek to align with these recommendations as the US will likely modify, replicate and build upon these successes. Innovative solutions that will push health IT forward and work towards larger health care reform issues will be vital.

Massachusetts joins in the country's quest for Next Generation 911 service

On September 25th, the State of Massachusetts joined a variety of other states and localities in their quest to develop Next Generation 911 (NG911) systems. The state released a solicitation (RFR# State 911 10-002) for a statewide Next Generation 911 consultant. The consultant will help the state in the planning, acquisition, and implementation of Next Generation 911 services. RFR responses for this project are due October 16th. The state would like to have a contract signed by November 1st.

This project will happen outside of the U.S. Department of Transportation's five agencies NG911 pilot project. Those agencies include Rochester, NY; Bozeman, MT; King County, WA; St. Paul, MN; and Fort Wayne, IN. The U.S. DOT has committed over $11 million to study the effectiveness of NG911. GovWin is currently tracking 13 state NG911 projects. While states are moving towards the IP-based 911 systems, many local agencies are also moving in this direction. For more information on NG911 projects, please see GovWin's vertical profile for Enhanced 911.

It's Official - No FY2010 Budget...For Now

It's been expected, but now it's pretty much confirmed: the FY2010 budget is a no show. Today the House passed a continuing resolution (CR)lasting through October 31. The Senate still has to take a look at the CR, which the House included in the FY2010 Legislative spending bill, to give a thumbs up or down but for all intents and purposes, the deal is done. The CR funds most of the federal government at FY2009 levels, but VA will receive an extra $3.85 billion for medical programs and Census gets $3.87 billion to support preparations for the FY2010 census.

Interestingly, the bill also calls out the troubled Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), making it clear that it won't receive one dime. The bill also extends the life of a handful of programs that would have otherwise expired, including:

Intelligence programs and counter-drug activities

Guantanamo Bay restrictions

Surface and aviation transportation programs

E-verify

Chemical Facility Security Program

The Postal Service also gets a break on funding retiree health benefits to address its budget shortfall.

According to an article in the Congressional Quarterly, Republicans weren't pleased about the CR being included in the Legislative spending bill for a couple of reasons. First, it means that Republicans can't propose amendments. Republicans also found it interesting that Democrats placed the CR in the particular bill that gives Congress its funding but forces the rest of government to wait.

Continuing resolutions are the status quo these days, and with the focus on the healthcare debate it's no surprise that Congress didn't get around to passing a budget. Now we wait until October 31 to see if another CR is on the horizon.

Senators Rockefeller and Hutchison introduce Bill to extend PSIC Grant Program

Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Baily Hutchison (R-Texas) have introduced a bill (S. 1694) which would extend the Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) grant program. The PSIC grants were awarded in September 2007 and all projects were expected to be completed by September 30, 2010, fiscal year 2010. This bill would extend the time frame for the use of this funding through fiscal year 2012.

The PSIC grant program was established through the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005, authorized by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Public safety agencies across the country were awarded funding totaling nearly $1 billion as part of the PSIC awards.

Many states funded large communications projects that have enabled agencies to have full interoperability throughout the state. The Maryland statewide public safety communications interoperability system was funded in part from the PSIC grant, approximately $9 million, and the project is currently in the source select phase. In addition to this program that is nearing the end of the procurement cycle, there are also projects that are in the early stages of the planning and development and therefore extending funding for the PSIC grants is essential in the completion of these projects. In Orange County New York a contract was awarded this past Spring for a consultant to assist the County in developing their plans for their county-wide radio and data equipment needs. With the contract for the consulting portion running until December 31, 2010, after the PSIC grant expiration date, it is imperative that the funding be extended through the FY12.

With many states and counties in various stages of their interoperable communications projects, many of which will not be completed by September 2010. Many localities are depending on these funds and may not be able to continue their projects without this money. Senate Bill #1694 passing would be both beneficial to public safety, but also to vendors, hoping to provide communications systems and other equipment to these localities.

Revolutionizing Health IT’s Role in Pandemic Monitoring

The recent shift in focus to the notorious "swine flu" has fortunately transpired the need to expand health information technology in order to enhance practices across health care environments. More attention is being placed on ways in which information systems can revolutionize health care settings through the surveillance, and monitoring of hospital equipment and resources.  According to the California Department of Public Health, countless agencies are having a hard time collecting disease outbreak data, generated from complications in accessing patient records, and insufficient resources. The Department also blames data collection quandaries on the lack of Electronic Health Records (EHR) in health care settings. The absence of EHRs in hospitals and public health departments poses great difficulty in integrating information across entities, imperative to controlling the effects of disease outbreaks. Increasing the adoption of EHRs would alleviate manual communication practices between state and local agencies. Tests on existing systems must be executed in order to ensure its ability in monitoring disease outbreaks, opening up numerous avenues for procurement.

In June President Obama allocated $7.65 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in preparation for the 2009-H1N1 Influenza outbreak. A report released by the Government Accountability Office on July 29, 2009, exemplified the need to conduct testing on departments. The report also emphasized tighter parameters in monitoring performance current pandemic management IT systems amongst federal, state and local and accountability for pandemic preparedness. The DHHS announced their plan to utilize $350 million for upgrading state and local grant capacity for the development and preparation for the H1N1 pandemic. State public health departments are expected to receive $260 million from grant funding; the other $90 million will go to hospitals.

On August 7, 2009 the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report analyzing the Obama Administration's 2009 H1N1 Flu preparation. The report highlights PCAST's recommendation for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to expand their current surveillance system to track disease information from emergency departments, hospitals and population samples. The CDC in conjunction with DHHS are currently working to build up a system to track emergency department visits and admissions for influenza-like complaints to aid in stifling cases of the pandemic. They are also planning to enhance public health surveillance systems to help data aggregation across existing emergency departments and hospital information system, which will heighten the capability of analyzing the impact from pandemics.

The nature of pandemics inevitably calls for immediate planning and response. For that reason, states should focus on ways to assess existing health information systems to boost data collection and visibility of disease-tracking. The Office of the Inspector General suggested more focus being placed on sharing information across states and localities after an analysis on Maine, Missouri, South Dakota, and Virginia. Other states, such as Maryland, have surveillance systems in which quality assurance testing could be conducted on. Maryland currently utilizes ESSENCE (Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics); a web-based syndromic surveillance system designed for early detection of disease outbreaks, illness patterns, and public health emergencies. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) has succeeded in enhancing the biosurveillance and expansion of ESSENCE across hospitals. With that, exploring ways in which pandemic monitoring can be used across networks will aid in closing the gaps between federal, state and local government and heighten efficiencies. As for current initiatives, GovWin is tracking Mississippi's Department of Health's Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plan initiative here.

Navy ERP Program: From a Sprint to a Crawl

Just when we thought that the Navy ERP Program was moving along at a steady pace, ready for full deployment across the department, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that strongly suggests otherwise. According to last week's report, the ERP program, initiated in 2003, is close to two years behind schedule and $570 million over budget. The program was originally scheduled to be complete in 2011; however, officials now fear it will conclude no earlier than 2013 with ballooning costs of over $2.4 billion. The reason for this delay appears to be a combination of inaccurately estimating contractor costs in the master plan as well as failing to plan for the potential difficulty in migrating data from legacy operating systems at various Commands to ERP.

The ERP project was developed to be an operating system that "updates and standardizes Navy business operations, provides financial transparency and total asset visibility across the enterprise, and increases effectiveness and efficiency." It is based on an SAP Corporation product that is designed to streamline processes within the Department of the Navy as well as the Department of Defense. Several Commands within the Navy, including Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP), and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), have recently been taking strides towards adopting ERP. In fact, in a Government Computer News article released on August 11, 2009, Rear Admiral David Dunaway, Commander, Operational and Test Evaluation Force, implied that the ERP program was rolling along and ready for full deployment department-wide.

There have been numerous contracting activities related to the ERP program over the past few years. Below is an abbreviated list of GovWin opportunities, previous and current, related to ERP:

Opportunity Status Solicitation Release Award Date Value
ERP Contractor O&M Forecast Pre-RFP January 2012 October 2012 $22M
Army ERP SETA Pre-RFP October 2009 February 2010 TBD
NAVAIR FM Support Post-RFP August 2009 December 2009 $49M
Navy ERP Program Awarded March 2006 June 2006 $69M
ERP Management Support Awarded May 2008 September 2008 $116M

So what does all this mean for industry? The GAO recommended to the Secretary of Defense that they direct the Secretary of the Navy to make the necessary changes to ensure further damage will not occur. The suggested changes include risk mitigation, strict consistency with proper management practices, and an independent agency to oversee the process. Consequently, Navy officials "agreed" with the recommendations and stated that they intend to be back on track within seven months. It will be interesting to see how current contracts for ERP work are affected, if at all. Perhaps the need for better program management services and streamlined processes will lead to new contracting opportunities within the DON, not just for ERP projects, but for general efficiency enhancement services for other programs as well.

$110 Million Worth of IT Projects Listed in 2009 VA RTIP

The Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA), released its annual strategic plan September 1st, which outlines projects for the next few years. There are a total of 42 technology investment projects, new or continued funding, with a value totaling $110,877,826.

The VITA RTIP for the 2010-2012 budget biennium makes mention of six planned and six active health care and human resources projects with a total value of $59,635,642 (8.7% of funding). This includes the active Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) fiscal agent takeover project, which was recently awarded to ACS Inc. through a competitive bid process. Please see GovWin Opportunity #44219 for further details. In addition, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) has two major IT projects on the horizon, the Clinical Information System Application and the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system. The projects will replace legacy systems with integrated clinical applications sharing an EMR repository at each Department facility and central office. These recommended new projects are unfunded at this point in time, but the Department will likely continue to pursue funding in order to move forward. These projects were originally estimated to start in April 2011 with an estimated value of $13,093,207. Please see GovWin Opportunity #53676 and #53677 respectively for further details.

On the social services side of the house, the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) was allocated $45 million for the Unemployment Insurance Benefit and Tax (UIBT) system. The UIBT will replace the current legacy system which was implemented in the '80s. VITA released a Request for Proposal (RFP) on VEC's behalf in May 2008 and an award is anticipated sometime within the next month. Please see GovWin Opportunity #45271 for details. VEC may solicit for a VEC UI Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) services contractor as well. Additional information can be found under GovWin Opportunity #52159. The Department of Social Services (DSS) received $15 million in funding for the Automated Child Care Subsidy Payment System (CCSPS) which is a subset of the larger Child Care Automation Project and can be found under GovWin Opportunity #56236.

Public Safety (including Statewide Agencies Radio System, STARS Project) has planned 8 projects, with a total value $400,684,964.00 (58.3% of funding). The STARS project's estimated value is $357,224,677. Please see GovWin Opportunity #4436 for further details. Although the STARS project is a significant chunk of the overall funding for Public Safety Projects outlined in the VITA RTIP report, the remaining projects are still very significant.

The Replacement of Central Criminal History (CCH) System, has been approved for planning, and will be executed under the Virginia State Police (VSP). The estimated performance dates are March 2010 through June 2014, and the project is valued at $6.5 million. This project was ranked by George Coulter, Virginia CIO, as the 11th priority of all the IT projects. Historically speaking, CCH is more than 30 years old, and is in dire need of a face-lift. Consulting services will be used to gather requirements and develop an implementation plan for replacement or enhancement of the CCH system. This will determine whether a commercial off-the-shelf-package exists or whether development will be necessary. The CCH Replacement Project also includes planning implementation; including installation and deployment of software at VSP, and training services for VSP staff and local agencies. Go to GovWin's tracked Opportunity for more information.

The Virginia Intelligence Management System (VIMA) Project has been tracked by GovWin since 2006 when it was recommended by the VA Information Technology Investment Board. The Project as of September 2009 has a bit of a discrepancy associated with it. Directed by the VSP and valued at $11.5 Million; this project was listed as cancelled in appendix D of VITA's annual strategic plan. However, GovWin has received confirmation from Dave Beckner, Lieutenant in the VSP Department, that the State is moving ahead with the project. GovWin will continue to monitor this project. Please go here to receive further updates on this opportunity.

Other Opportunities mentioned in the Strategic Plan:

Central Criminal Image System: Opportunity #39824 (which has been completed and awarded to Dataworks Plus for $968,637).

Law Enforcement Activity Management System: Opportunity #34617 (which has a total project cost of $3,361,400)

Customer Management Queuing System: Opportunity #40405

FEMIS: Opportunity #34581

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