OPM hiring program managers for scrutinized IT modernization

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The Office of Personnel Management wants to hire four IT project managers to lead the development of an enterprisewide IT modernization, which has received increased scrutiny following massive breaches on agency systems.

The four IT senior project managers will serve as key experts in the Office of the Chief Information Officer’s migration of legacy applications to a modernized infrastructure, what OPM is calling the “shell,” according to a posting on USAJobs.gov. They will work closely with program staff architecting the shell and its new applications while tracking progress of the project to update senior leadership, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress.

OPM introduced this modernization project to bolster the security of its systems after a security incident in March 2014. The OCIO decided it was best to overhaul its entire infrastructure, starting by addressing security concerns first before moving on to building a completely new and modern IT environment and migrating existing systems, once made compatible.

After OPM announced a more recent pair of cyber vulnerabilities on its systems that compromised at least 4.2 million federal personnel files and likely millions more, the agency Office of the Inspector General performed a flash audit targeting the $93 million IT overhaul and shell system development. In the audit, the IG took specific objection to the project’s planning and management, saying OPM failed to identify the full scope and cost of the project, leaving it with “a very high risk of…failure.”

“The cost of this work is likely to be substantial and the lack of a dedicated funding source increases risk that the project will fail to meet its objectives,” Michael Esser, OPM’s assistant inspector general for audits, said during a hearing in June. OPM requested $21 million more in President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget request.

OPM did not respond to FedScoop’s request for comment.

The hiring of the four managers comes more than a year after the project started and will cost OPM up to $675,000 in annual salaries, according to the listing.

In a recent cybersecurity action report, the agency said it is heeding the IG’s recommendation to shore up the scope of this massive project before the end of the fiscal year, meaning even more additions could be made.

“As part of this – and as recommended by the IG – OPM will assess the level of effort and estimated costs of the migration process,” the report says. “OPM will continue to track, document, and justify any changes should those estimated costs need to change.”

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