August 31, 2009 By Matt Williams
Northrop Grumman has sent the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) a 40-page "corrective action plan" to remedy problems and meet the terms associated with the vendor's 10-year, $2.3 billion contract for consolidation and outsourcing of the state government's IT services.
The plan would finish Northrop Grumman's transition of IT services by no later than June 2010, a year later than originally anticipated. The delay has been caused by "a number of factors and unforeseen complexities," according to the plan given to VITA on Aug. 28 and announced Monday. The agency transitions are scheduled for completion by March 31, 2010 -- but wiggle room is built in if there are unexpected delays.
Northrop Grumman announced that the plan includes better planning and scheduling, the creation of management teams that are able to take quick action, and an improved escalation process when problems are identified.
Virginia CIO George Coulter, who was named to the post in August, was unavailable for comment Monday, but he was quoted in a press release from Northrop Grumman: "Significant progress has been made on modernization of the infrastructure, which includes networks, mainframes, servers, personal computers, messaging, help desk and facilities," Coulter said. "While the plan must be finalized, I believe the public-private partnership can accomplish transformation in the coming year."
Coulter said VITA will thoroughly review the plan and work with Northrop Grumman to refine it.
More than 90 percent of the project's milestones are done, according to Northrop Grumman. But two key initiatives remain unfinished: An enterprisewide e-mail migration and backup system is planned to be completed in April 2010; and a complete LAN migration, is due in January 2010. Server consolidation, a desktop refresh and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) optimization are nearing completion.
Some critics and lawmakers have complained the outsourcing contract and partnership has been plagued by poor service and cost overruns. A VITA oversight board dismissed former Virginia CIO Lem Stewart in June, shortly after he said he wanted to withhold a scheduled $14 million payment to Northrop Grumman because he said the vendor wasn't fulfilling its contractual obligations. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said in July that he believes that the problems stem from VITA's management, not the vendor. Kaine has asked lawmakers to change state law so that VITA reports directly to the governor's office.
According to the text of Northrop Grumman's plan, the scope of the consolidation and transformation has expanded beyond the original contract terms that were agreed upon in 2005. The company says individual agencies have been slow to buy in to the consolidation, which it claims has caused delays and cost overruns. Most recently, VITA reported a $6.2 million budget deficit.
When the transition is complete, 85 of Virginia's government agencies will have moved to the new infrastructure. Northrop Grumman estimates it will manage 200,000 devices across 2,200 locations.
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