VA CIO Roger Baker insisting on quality control over IT projects

Last week President Obama specifically addressed the technology at Federal agencies, and how that technology affects the way the agencies get their jobs done. The President said, “Government workers get a bad rap. All too often their best efforts are thwarted because the technological revolution that has transformed our society over the past two decades has yet to reach many parts of our government. Many of these folks will tell you that their kids have better technology in their backpacks and in their bedrooms than they have at their work.”

One person working with – and sometimes working around – legacy IT systems is Veterans Affairs Chief Information Officer Roger Baker. He has instituted the Program Management Accountability System, stopping over 40 IT projects, reviewing them, and eventually killing more than a dozen of them.

Mr. Baker talked to me about building flexibility into IT projects; dealing with legacy systems; and the concept that “old” doesn’t necessarily mean “outdated”, and outdated projects don’t have to be old.