Thursday, July 24, 2008

District of Columbia Launches New Intranet

The District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) today announced the release of a new Intranet portal that will provide District employees a broad array of new tools and transform the ways they communicate and work together.

The new portal will open to a home page that presents both Mayoral news and up-to-date news releases from all District agencies. For the first time, employees will have instant access to all the breaking news that affects their jobs and their lives as residents of the District metropolitan area—everything from health advisories from the Department of Health to road work announcements from the Department of Transportation to tips on summer fun from the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Also available right from the homepage will be a brand-new video training center. The portal will now provide video of virtually every training class conducted in the District government—from management training required for MSS employees to Continuing Legal Education to computer classes. Now employees will be able to complete training requirements—and take all the elective job enrichment courses they want—on their own schedules. No longer will they have to miss critical classes because of meetings, illness or vacation.

The home page will also link to a fast and multi-faceted search capability. For example, employees will be able to search for any other District official and get a handy information page complete with agency, title, contact information and even a picture of the individual and a map to his or her office. Employees will also be able to search for any address or point of interest in the District and get a picture of the building along with a detailed map of its location.

Employees will also be able to use the new portal to obtain and provide information about themselves, their agencies, and important issues affecting the District government. The portal offers a "DCpedia" that is modeled on Wikipedia and uses the same technology. Like Wikipedia, DCpedia is a free, open-content online encyclopedia created through the collaborative effort of the user community—in this case, the more than 39,000 employees of the District government. Any user of the new Intranet can post information to DCpedia, and anyone can edit it. The system contains an automatic check against misleading information—each entry identifies the time, date, and individual submitting it.

Equally exciting is a new common platform for document review and editing. With this new feature, employees in different units, agencies, even buildings, will be able to collaborate on documents like contracts, MOUs, legislation, regulations, press releases and more, without the need for long meetings or extended email chains.

The new home page will be a gateway to a wide variety of other resources. It will connect directly to all agency Intranet websites and to frequently used information sources like the District Personnel Manual. The home page will also link to critical citywide applications like HR, the PASS procurement system, the citywide email system and more.

"With our new Intranet portal, we’re aiming to make work life in the District richer, more efficient, and also more exciting," said District of Columbia City Administrator Dan Tangherlini. "We’re creating a virtual community and an open market of ideas and resources to empower employees so that they can deliver better informed and higher quality service to our customers."

In building the new portal, OCTO used flexible, low-cost open-source technology to make the portal functionally versatile and reduce expenditures. The choice of open-source technology drove the total cost of the portal down from an original estimate of $10 million to a final total of only $500,000.

“The new Intranet is just one example of OCTO’s ongoing efforts to deploy the most cost-effective and innovative technologies to enhance all areas of District operations,” said District Chief Technology Officer Vivek Kundra. “We are leveraging the successes of consumer technology to create opportunities for collaboration and to impact productivity District-wide.”

Learn more about DC government technology initiatives and resources.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Vivek Kundra on Government Technology TV–Procurement 2.0

Vivek Kundra, chief technology officer for Washington D.C., describes how Web 2.0 tools are improving procurement for the city government.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

District of Columbia Releases Comprehensive Collection of 3D Buildings

The District of Columbia's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) today announced the release of one of the largest collections of three-dimensional (3D) building maps posted on Google Earth to date.

The 3D building data, developed by OCTO's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program, covers the whole District of Columbia. The data represents a total of more than 84,000 3D buildings. In addition, the data includes corresponding two-dimensional footprints that provide height information for each individual building.

The data includes rooftop details that differentiate each building from those around it. The District is known primarily as a horizontal city because of its strictly enforced height limit, but it is also a city of spires, penthouses and domes. Now all of these dramatic roof details are visible in 3D.

For several years the District has published 3D images of the city’s downtown and major commercial centers, but the new release expands to encompass the entire 69 square miles of the District. Economic development was a primary driver behind the expansion. The District chose to model the whole city to fulfill Mayor Fenty’s commitment to bring planning and development to every ward and neighborhood, not just downtown. For the first time, developers, architects, and planners will have all the data necessary to assess possible new structures throughout the city. Additionally, the public will have unprecedented access to this data, and can now be more effectively engaged in development and planning.

To ensure that the District's new 3D building data is as widely available and easily accessible as possible, the data will be hosted on Google EarthTM , the free mapping program available via download from Google.

In addition to the new 3D data released via Google Earth, the District has for years provided a wealth of geospatial data to the public via the Internet. Among the 200 geospatial data sets available on the District’s GIS site are wards, trails, parks, museums, building permits, fire hydrants and zoning maps, as well as service- or incident-based maps like abandoned vehicles and crime locations. Visit to see the District’s entire geospatial repository of maps and databases.

“Our new 3D maps are just one part of the rich technology resources that the District offers to the general public,” said District Chief Technology Officer Vivek Kundra. “From GIS data to brand-new PCs in every classroom to our web portal with about 200 online services, we’re leveraging technology to bring the best and most convenient services to residents, businesses, and visitors of the District of Columbia.”

To learn more about DC government technology initiatives and resources, visit or

Google Earth is a registered trademark of Google Inc.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Drive Government Performance by Creating the "Stock Market Model"

Managing Government Technology Like Your Investments

When Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed me to his Cabinet as Chief Technology Officer for the District of Columbia, I asked a simple question: Why can I find the real-time stock price and performance of any publically traded company with a few keystrokes, but I can’t get solid information on the performance of technology projects in the government?

My answer was to create a “Wall Street” model to manage the $950-million-plus District technology portfolio as a portfolio of stocks. Each project is a “company,” its team is company management, its schedule and financial status are captured in market reports, and customer satisfaction is the market reaction. The model allows us to balance riskier strategic IT investments with more conservative ones and rebalance the portfolio whenever necessary. The model also fosters government transparency and accountability--we deliver accurate, real-time performance data to government officials and citizens using web reports, podcasts, and YouTube videos.

I built a team of five Portfolio Managers to run the Wall Street model according to three core principles:

Apply the Efficiency of the Stock Market to IT Governance
In an environment of shrinking budgets, rising energy costs, and growing citizen expectations of government, evaluating the performance and promise of IT projects continuously and accurately is critical. With the Wall Street model, we can make fast and sound decisions to “buy,” “hold,” or “sell” an IT project—i.e., invest more financial resources or change management to improve performance, maintain the current resource level, or cancel a failing initiative.

Capture Quantitative and Qualitative Data
The IT stock model incorporates both quantitative and qualitative analysis to provide a holistic picture of the investment. Quantitatively, the Portfolio Managers analyze vital project statistics including schedule, spend against budget, and return on investment. Qualitatively, the Portfolio Managers evaluate the management team, customer satisfaction, and current project-related events to ensure a deep, integrated understanding of the project’s drivers and results.

Treat Taxpayers like Investors
We define the Portfolio Managers’ roles as guardians of taxpayer funds. Ultimately, these managers must ensure that all District agencies spend taxpayer dollars wisely and well on technology investments.

Here are a few cases where we turned “Dogs” into “Stars” by rebalancing our IT investment portfolio:
District Intranet: The District planned to invest $4 million to develop a government-wide Intranet—but with outdated technology. I withdrew the $4 million and switched the technology to free, flexible open-source software. The only cost was $10,000 for a server. The result: a cost reduction of 97.5%.

Report card system: The District planned to build a costly new complete automated report card system for the DC Public Schools. But the holistic stock market evaluation revealed that secondary schools already had automated report cards. So I switched to a much smaller $160,000 investment to install a primary school report card system and integrate it with the existing secondary school software.

DC-Net: DC-Net is a state-of-the-art fiber-optic DC government network that delivers high-bandwidth, high-reliability voice and data services to District agencies. A year ago, the project was a perfect example of excellent technology badly managed. Every month it ran a deficit, it had not added new customers at the planned rate, and costly contract staff sat idle. I changed the management, dismissed the contract staff, and re-invested the funds in a smaller group of less costly, more focused District employees. The result: a consistent monthly surplus since June 2007, renewed customer growth from 15,800 phone numbers as of June 1, 2007 to 21,580 phone numbers as of June 5, 2008 (37% in a year), and high customer satisfaction.

The genius of the American stock market is to put capital to the most efficient use, continuously redirecting funds from low-performing companies to high performers. Our IT stock market model infuses the same efficiency in government, assuring citizens the highest and best use of the tax dollars they entrust to us.