The Department of Housing and Urban Development is the second agency to team up with the General Services Administration to jump-start IT modernization through a Centers of Excellence program, the agencies announced Sept. 25.

“I’m thrilled HUD is teaming up with GSA to transform this agency into a more effective and efficient servant on behalf of the American people,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in the press release.

“This is an important moment for HUD as we embark upon a campaign to modernize our aging technology and bring true financial integrity to everything we do.”

The Centers of Excellence program, a partnership between GSA and the White House Office of American Innovation, first began in December 2017 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the lighthouse agency for the program.

USDA recently moved into Phase II of its CoE program, which focuses on implementation, with solicitations issued to the private sector in late July 2018.

“Today’s announcement further demonstrates the strength, success, and momentum that the CoEs have already brought to bear in less than a year. I couldn’t be more excited to build upon the work we have begun with USDA by implementing these best practices at an agency as customer-focused and citizen-facing as HUD,” said GSA Administrator Emily Murphy.

According to the press release, HUD and GSA finalized their interagency agreement for the CoE program this week, and the agency will begin work on Phase I of the program, planning and organization, in the near future.

“In partnering with GSA's CoEs, HUD’s business needs are our primary focus,” said HUD Chief Information Officer David Chow.

“This first phase of the CoE will be led by program office experts with full IT support to streamline business processes and enhance taxpayers’ overall experience.”

The CoE program is designed to enable agencies to examine the specific IT needs of their organizations while also learning from the past experience of other agencies that went through the program before.

“With GSA’s help we will transform how HUD operates across our agency and within our programs,” said HUD Chief Financial Officer Irv Dennis.

“This first phase will help us identify the upgrades we need to bring our technology systems and accounting procedures into the 21st century. Overall, this is a great initiative we see often in the private sector and not often enough in the federal government.”

According to the press release, awards for Phase II at USDA are also scheduled to be announced in the next few weeks.

Jessie Bur covered the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees for Federal Times.

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