GSA picks HUD as next agency for IT modernization Centers of Excellence

HUD headquarters. (Timothy Vollmer / Flickr)

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The General Services Administration announced Tuesday that the Centers of Excellence (CoE) IT modernization initiative has found its next target — the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

GSA’s Technology Transformation Service (TTS), which oversees the CoEs, will partner with HUD for a “discovery sprint” to conduct a “comprehensive assessment of the IT needs and challenges facing the department.”

“I’m thrilled HUD is teaming up with GSA to transform this agency into a more effective and efficient servant on behalf of the American people,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “This is an important moment for HUD as we embark upon a campaign to modernize our aging technology and bring true financial integrity to everything we do.”

The process “will be led by program office experts with full IT support,” HUD CIO David Chow said.

Questions about what the second edition of the CoEs will look like have been swirling for months. Phase I at the U.S. Department of Agriculture kicked off in April with the agency hosting five teams focused (respectively) on cloud adoption, IT infrastructure optimization, customer experience, contact center services and service delivery analytics. During this phase, teams comprised of TTS employees, contractors and USDA subject matter experts did extensive user research. USDA put out requests for proposal in August for Phase II of the project, which will focus on operationalizing the research done.

GSA Press Secretary Pam Dixon told FedScoop in an email “The Centers of Excellence are designed to produce best practices that can be used across multiple agencies, in whole or in part depending on the department’s needs and requirements. At this time, HUD will be utilizing at least four of the centers [from the first iteration at USDA]. Additional capabilities will be provided based on ongoing discussions as part of the discovery sprint.”

There have been some leadership changes at GSA since the inception of the CoEs, too — Director Joanne Collins Smee, who led the Phase I work at USDA, left the agency at the end of August. Former TTS Chief of Staff Kelly Olson is now filling the role on an acting basis.

And yet now, with agency number two, the show goes on. “Today’s announcement further demonstrates the strength, success, and momentum that the CoEs have already brought to bear in less than a year,” GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited to build upon the work we have begun with USDA by implementing these best practices at an agency as customer-focused and citizen-facing as HUD.”

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Ben Carson, Centers of excellence, Department of Agriculture, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Emily Murphy, General Services Administration, IT Modernization, Joanne Collins Smee, Kelly Olson