Blackstone Case Study- Federal Government – Taking Information Sharing to the Next Level
Over the past decade, the U.S. Government has endeavored to take cross-agency communication to the next level in response to national emergency situations. Specifically, in response to the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, the Federal Government took an information sharing program that was originally used for law enforcement and built it out to provide the additional functionality of enabling communication across government agencies to combat and respond to terrorist attacks. Compounding this effort, the Government decided to increase the functionality of this program to encompass handling all types of hazards in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
At the core of this program is an information sharing network whose explicit goal is to provide a secure communication and collaboration medium for the unified effort of preventing and deterring terrorist attacks and preparing for and responding to any natural or man-made disaster.
In order to ensure the success of this network, the U.S. Government asked Blackstone to help develop a program office dedicated to driving the overall program. Blackstone staffed a seasoned management team to reorganize the program functions into a coordinated set of integrated project teams.
It is both the grand achievement and downfall of information systems that they can be custom-tailored to serve almost any purpose. The transformation of a small, information sharing network, initially utilized for law enforcement, into a large-scale, cross-agency program to be used for the deterring of terrorist attacks and responding to natural or man-made disasters led to program inefficiencies. Moreover, after 9/11 when the program underwent its initial transformation, it was rushed into production. Due to these changes, the following inefficiencies posed a challenge to the successful management of the program:
- Lack of communication with other information sharing initiatives within the hosting organization
- Missed requirements from user communities
- Insufficient quality assurance
- Inadequate stakeholder and end-user outreach
- No significant metrics for setting a performance baseline
Blackstone changed the focus of the program from a technology-oriented deployment to the identification of operational requirements. This enabled the paradigm shift from a data storage application to a network platform for gathering, fusing, analyzing and reporting information related to both natural and man-made threats to the U.S.
One of Blackstone’s most notable efforts in the modification of the program was to create a set of focused, integrated project teams. Teams were created around the following focus areas:
- Customer Outreach
- Security and Privacy
- Performance Management
- Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC)
From the development of a project management plan to the creation of the integrated project teams, Blackstone provided everything from strategic guidance to the implementation of program modifications. Due to these modifications, Blackstone was able to lead the program toward achieving the following;
- With the implementation of a program management structure, gaps in operational processes were uncovered and mitigated
- Working with third parties also contributing to the program, Blackstone helped establish common procedures to provide clarity to all users and to reduce duplicative efforts within the program
- Implementation of performance, risk, quality, and project management programs
- Delivering business cases and web-based training
- Establishing a process for successful performance reporting which enabled the client to monitor the programs successes and report more effectively to higher-level Government institutions
In developing overall process, organization, and performance metrics with highly experienced program management staff, Blackstone mitigated key issues that had placed the entire program in jeopardy and established an overall framework to continually improve the program over time and ensure its success.