INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Operations Foundation Program—Restructuring Could Help Control Costs and Limit Risks
The Operations Foundation program (the program) is a large, complex information technology (IT) and business process initiative designed to improve train operations and the movement of passengers. It consists of a portfolio of 15 “themes,” which are groups of ongoing and planned projects. The themes are designed to modernize specific business processes and tools, primarily through the use of new or upgraded IT systems. More than 80 percent of the workforce of Amtrak (the company) is covered by these improvement activities. Throughout this report, we refer to this portfolio of 15 themes as “the program” because many of the themes are interrelated.
When the company initiated the program in December 2014, it estimated that the program would cost at least $427 million and be completed in 2025. As of the end of fiscal year (FY) 2016, the company spent about $89 million implementing the program and has focused its efforts on seven themes. As part of a company-wide consolidation of all ongoing IT projects, the company plans to transfer the management of the program from the Operations to the IT department by June 2017.
Our objectives for this report were to assess the current status of the program and identify opportunities, if any, to strengthen the company’s management and oversight of the program. To do so, we compared the company’s management of the program to leading practices from the private and public sectors for cost, schedule and benefits estimation, and program management.