• Flynn’s Fundamentals – Thought it might be fun to roll these out again from 1998…

    January 7th, 2016 by admin Categories: Blogs Tags: , , ,


    GCN State & Local, March 1998

    California issues an eight-point systems guide

    John Thomas Flynn

    At the end of World War I, Georges Clemenceau, the forceful wartime premier of France, was asked to comment on Woodrow Wilson’s historic missive on the fundamental rules of relations among nations, his famous Fourteen Points.

    The Frenchman, who thought our 28th president to be a bit on the pedantic side, was said to have remarked, “Even the good Lord himself only required 10.”

    These words were on my mind as I wrestled with the development of the criteria for selecting and ranking investments in information technology by California’s 150 agencies. The objective at my Department of Information Technology (DOIT) was to articulate a simple yet compelling set of guidelines for agency IT investment decisions.

    I hope the process the department went through will help government IT types everywhere. DOIT didn’t start from scratch. For example, the director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, Franklin Raines, has his so-called Raines Rules, guidelines for federal agencies to follow in evaluating systems investments. The rules were DOIT’s starting point. The department borrowed unapologetically from them and other sources.

    Lots of help

    Another was the best practices documented by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers. DOIT had considerable help from Gov. Pete Wilson’s private-sector Task Force on Technology Policy and Procurement, too.

    The resulting set of eight fundamentals captures the right way to do IT projects. In California, DOIT will consider, approve for initial funding and continue to support only IT projects that meet eight requirements:

    n Projects must be consistent with existing state, agency and department IT plans and architectures and with the department’s year 2000 date code plan.

    n Projects must support business functions agencies have re-engineered to be more efficient and to make maximum use of commercial software.

    Projects must demonstrate a clear return on investment with better mission performance, reduced cost or enhanced revenues, increased system speed or flexibility, or improved customer or employee satisfaction. Agencies should measure return against the California Risk Assessment Model. The model evaluates a project’s strategic necessity and technical complexity, a program’s management and operational capacity, the likelihood of cost overruns and the consequences of poor performance.

    Projects must support core mission function as defined in agency business plans. The state agency must support a project only because no alternative private sector or governmental source can efficiently do so.

    Each state department’s senior program executive, who heads the project steering committee, must actively support and sponsor IT projects. Support must also come from a member of the California Information Technology Commission. A project team must run each project, and that team must be led by a project manager who has appropriate certification and experience running a project of similar size and complexity. Each project must also have an independent overseer and substantial involvement from the program officials and the staff that will use the system.

    Agencies must use good project-tracking methods for IT projects, which entail distinct assignment of and accountability for unique, brief and measurable tasks and use of project budget, schedule and accounting systems.

    Agencies must use acquisition strategies that stress performance and reallocate risk from the state to the vendors. Projects must call for implementation in phases and tie payment to successful accomplishment of each project phase.

    John Thomas Flynn is California’s chief information officer and president of the National Association of State Information Resource Executives.


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