The Office of the DoD Inspector General (IG) Government Accounting Office (GAO) Affairs branch is the focal point for all GAO audits and inquiries into the Department of Defense (DoD). With reduced manpower and no reduction in work load, the GAO Affairs team required a more efficient way of interacting with DoD organizations and personnel throughout the Audit Cycle. Specifically, they needed a way to accurately manage authoritative content and critical communication between GAO Auditors and DoD organizations.
The DoD IG operates on its own proprietary network which was created for the very purpose of restricting other DoD organizations from having access. This posed a significant obstacle to the GAO Affairs team who wanted to leverage their in-house Microsoft SharePoint collaboration platform to drive more effective collaboration with GAO and other DoD organizations throughout each Audit Life Cycle. The IG had a dedicated in-house SharePoint team but they were unable to produce results after several attempts due to their lack of knowledge and experience in streamlining business process and integrating them into SharePoint using SharePoint and Knowledge Management best practices. Key GAO Affairs team requirements were:
Accessible, customizable virtual collaborative work spaces enabling GAO auditors to collaborate directly with DoD Primary and Collateral offices both synchronously and/or asynchronously
Private virtual location for GAO Affairs team to manage sensitive information
Customizable permissions from the site down to the item/document level
GAO IG Affairs team must be able to self-manage without significant developer dependencies
Ability to display dashboards with measures of performance and effectiveness
Ability to automate processes to maximum extent possible
One of the challenges articulated by IG business process owners was difficulty translating their business process requirements into technical requirements for their internal IT Shop and SharePoint Team. Internal IT personnel also validated their main challenge was getting accurate technical requirements from business process owners. This is the classic language barrier between IT professionals and business process Owners/Managers and this is one of the staple areas ACES Group thrives. This project is ongoing and continuously improving. The foundational work for this new paradigm took place during the initial build (Phase 1). The details described below relate primarily to the work accomplished in Phase 1.
ACES Group was able to develop a new, fully functional, scalable, web content management system using free Government Enterprise Services. The DoD IG team was not previously aware of these enterprise services and did not understand the importance of platform selection based on audience. ACES Group was able to show them how best to unite users from different government agencies, GAO and DoD in this case, in a way that enabled them to collaborate virtually and seamlessly.
Prior to the creation of this solution by ACES Group, documents associated with each audit were stored in every participants inbox with multiple copies also saved by each person on local and network drives in many cases. With DoD-Wide Audits commonly involving well over 20 people receiving, storing, changing and forwarding documents. A 1 MB file could easily consume over 500MB-1GB of storage space across DoD. With hundreds of files commonly involved in these engagements that regularly extend for time frames beyond a year, having a central, authoritative location for users to work on and store content has tremendous advantages beyond basic storage costs and data security.
Value to Client
The model developed by ACES Group is currently being considered by GAO as a Whole of Government solution. Its ability to scale to a Whole of Government solution is due to the proper selection of the platform/network on which it is hosted (Intelink.gov). The solution’s ability to satisfy business process requirements is largely the result of which Application was chosen to develop the solution (SharePoint). This includes IT professional’s ability to work with the process owner to streamline their process and implement it within the context of the SharePoint application model using SharePoint best practices for accomplishing the various components of the solution. This is where few IT professionals are able to operate and it is where ACES Group flourishes. Following are the solution based and result oriented bullet statements performed at DoD:
Capture and Information Tracking
Document Management using Meta tags
Collaboration and Communication
Train the Trainers