Transforming IT at the Department of Labor

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Transforming IT at the Department of Labor

Submitted by oung on Fri, 01/01/2016

Overview

Overview

The mission of the Office of the Solicitor (SOL) at the Department of Labor (DOL) is to meet the legal service demands of the entire DOL. As the Secretary of Labor and the Department officials seek to accomplish the Department's overall mission and to further specific priorities, SOL provides legal advice regarding how to achieve those goals. In doing so, SOL ensures that labor laws are forcefully and fairly applied to protect workers. SOL fulfills its mission by representing the Secretary and the client agencies in litigation and alternative dispute resolution activities. This is done by assisting in the development of regulations and by providing legal opinions and advice concerning all the Department's activities.

The SOL legal teams maintain information on millions of records, regulations, and legal matters. Managing this information is crucial for several reasons. Current and accurate case information is critical to the accomplishment of the SOL mission, and the information must be readily accessible. At the same time, individual privacy must be protected. Departmental resources must also be efficiently assigned, so the workloads of the teams supporting different clients and regions must be monitored. Finally, many matters cross geographical lines so multiple offices must share information.

Body

Opportunity

When the GovernmentCIO team began working with SOL in 2012, there was no consolidated case management system. Instead, there were more than a dozen databases spread across the country, and the information was so highly compartmentalized that it was nearly impossible to share data without mailing a physical file. Tracking and sorting information were highly manual processes, with the management reporting requiring hundreds of labor hours per month. SOL was in the process of implementing a new, consolidated Matter Management System (MMS), but progress was slow. The development team was following a Waterfall-type process and releases were constantly behind schedule with numerous quality issues. Additionally, the governance activities were reflecting the development difficulties as the investment was receiving unacceptable evaluations on its capital planning (CPIC) and security scorecards. The GovernmentCIO team saw opportunities to improve quality, compliance, and efficiency while lowering total cost of ownership.

 

Solution

When the GovernmentCIO team transitioned on as the SOL’s application support contractor, we assessed the current processes and identified several potential improvements. We implemented a Kanban system to improve transparency in each team’s communication with the system owners and users, and we identified several bottlenecks in the development process. Keeping the same development team, we transitioned to an Agile methodology focusing on delivering high-quality features at time-boxed intervals (Sprints). This allowed us to provide greater flexibility to the system owners who could now deploy more frequent releases if a particular feature was urgent or of very high value. Conversely, they could choose a longer development cycle if they needed a larger number of features implemented in a given release.

We followed a similar approach to improve the system management and governance issues. We began by assessing the current practices and found that communication was breaking down between SOL and the CIO’s office (OCIO). Our solution was to improve communication by opening a more frequent dialog with the OCIO’s Capital Planning and IT Security Compliance teams. We encouraged their participation in our planning sessions and asked for their input on compliance deliverables earlier in the process.

By engaging the compliance teams earlier in the process, we built a more collaborative relationship in areas that can sometimes become adversarial.

 

Results

Our performance has earned recognition from customers and the DOL OCIO.
SOL has cited the GovernmentCIO team as the best IT contractor they have hired, consistently providing numerous recommendations to other Federal agencies. Managers in the DOL OCIO reported that ours was the best-run project they have seen.
Working with the client at SOL, we delivered improvements in several business areas, including: • Software Development: Using Agile methodologies, we are better able to develop user requirements, which leads to more useful features. We delivered nine consecutive on-time releases with minimal quality issues. • Security Compliance: Working with the Federal ISO, we helped SOL maintain a “Green” rating on security compliance scorecards, implemented the DOL Cloud System Security policy, and successfully transitioned the Matter Management and Evidence Management systems to Revision 4 of the NIST 800-53 controls. • Productivity: Our team has automated several processes, including the generation of management reports and the installation of system and database updates, allowing us to reduce the size of the support team. Additionally, we identified and implemented an alternative tool for business intelligence, reducing software licensing costs by 25 percent per year. • Capital Planning: Working with the DOL OCIO, we improved the SOL CPIC processes and brought the Legal Technology Systems into compliance with DOL and OMB policies (transitioning from scores of “Red” and “Yellow” to 100 percent “Green”).
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