State government not holding IT suppliers accountable for delays, study says
Since switching to a model with eight suppliers providing the state government’s information technology infrastructure services, the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) has seen significant service delays and has not held suppliers accountable, according to a study released Monday by the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission (JLARC).
Collectively, the eight contractors have not completed 43% of critical deliverables needed to implement the state government’s new IT infrastructure program in the wake of the state’s termination of its previous IT services supplier, Northrop Grumman Corp. Those deliverables were due by December 2018.
As of July, the study states, VITA’s new managed security supplier, Atos, was 245 days late completing an update of the state’s database of IT assets.
The JLARC report also says VITA may not be staffed and structured adequately to oversee the multi-supplier model.
The delays have resulted in issues such as the phones in one Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services field office being out of order for 27 days. Submitted as a high-priority incident, the IT issue should have been resolved within four hours, the JLARC study states.
Among other instances cited in the report, agencies have been unable to use Google Drive cloud storage services for more than a year, while VITA is working on a security upgrade, even though the agencies are paying for the service under a contract with Google. Additionally, the Virginia Department of Transportation has reported a significant increase in network outages since VITA has shifted to the multi-supplier model for IT services.
What’s more, VITA has not held the suppliers accountable for failing to meet required performance requirements outlined in their contracts. According to the report, VITA could have fined Unisys Corp. $2 million for “unmet and unreported performance requirements” between December 2018 and June 2019 but didn’t. Five of the seven other suppliers appeared to have similar problems with unmet performance requirements, says Lauren Axselle, a JLARC principal analyst for ongoing oversight.
It’s unclear, Axselle says, whether VITA could still pursue fines against the companies for not meeting contract requirements.
The report places part of the blame for the delays on Reston-based Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), which it says is “significantly behind schedule” in its role of integrating the various suppliers’ services into the state government’s IT infrastructure.
SAIC’s delays were caused in part when it had to temporarily step in and assume Northrop Grumman’s responsibilities for all of the state’s IT infrastructure services after VITA fired Northrop Grumman in August 2018. That was due to the fact that Northrup Grumman failed to fulfill responsibilities related to implementing VITA’s new multi-supplier model, the report states, including not giving other suppliers access to needed systems and information.
JLARC’s recommendations for VITA in the report included instituting a comprehensive tracking tool to ensure the status of deliverables and suppliers’ contract requirements.