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HHS Enterprise Performance Life Cycle (EPLC)

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Volume 2 | Issue 3 | March 2008

Daniel Vitek, MBA, PMP

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congress have set ever higher standards for the management and performance of information technology investments within the Federal government. Those standards require a project management and accountability environment where IT projects achieve consistently successful outcomes that maximize alignment with business objectives and meet key cost, schedule, and performance objectives.

A key to successful information technology (IT) management is a solid project management methodology that incorporates best government, and commercial, practices through a consistent and repeatable process, and provides a standard structure for planning, managing, and overseeing IT projects over their entire life cycle. The HHS Enterprise Performance Life Cycle (EPLC) framework provides that methodology for HHS.

The HHS EPLC framework applies to all HHS IT investments and projects, including but not limited to new investments, major enhancements to existing investments, steady state investments, high-priority, fast-track IT investments, and new Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) product acquisitions. It applies to the Operating Divisions, all Staff Divisions, and the Office of the Inspector General (collectively as “HHS OPDIVs”).

The EPLC framework has an initial focus on the life cycle of IT projects. Eventually, the scope is expected to expand to include all project management within HHS. EPLC implementation is anticipated to be in 2009 and the CDC is preparing for this by ensuring that IT Governance processes are in place and that appropriate practices guides, templates, and checklists are available on the CDC UP website to support all required deliverables.

The EPLC framework consists of ten life cycle phases. Within each phase, activities, responsibilities, reviews, and deliverables are defined. Exit criteria are established for each phase and Stage Gate reviews are conducted through the IT governance process to ensure that the project’s management quality, soundness, and technical feasibility remain adequate and the project is ready to move forward to the next phase. The EPLC framework provides a guide to Project Managers, Business Owners, IT governance executives, and other stakeholders throughout the life of the project.

The EPLC framework is designed to provide the flexibility needed to adequately manage risk while allowing for differences in project size, complexity, scope, duration, etc. Examples of flexibility include the ability (with IT governance approval) to tailor the framework where particular phases or deliverables may not apply, to aggregate phases and deliverables when appropriate, to provide for conditional stage gate approvals that allow progress to a subsequent phase in a manner that identified and controls for risk. The EPLC also accommodates iterative development methodologies.

Implementation of the EPLC framework will allow HHS to improve the quality of project planning and execution, reducing overall project risk. Reducing risk, in turn, increases HHS’ ability to move IT projects that best meet business needs into the production environment more quickly and with established cost constraints. The framework also provides an effective vehicle for adopting and propagating best practices in IT management. Finally, the framework provides a solid foundation for Project Manager training, certification, and more effective IT capital planning.

The EPLC framework implementation is likely to shift more time and resources to the planning phases for projects and require additional resources from Project Managers, Business Owners, and IT governance participants for review and approval activities. This increased investment in planning and oversight is expected to be more than offset by reduced resources spent in duplicative efforts and rework of avoidable errors.

Industry and government experience demonstrates that the quality of IT investments is directly proportional to the quality of the management processes used to acquire and operate the IT products those investments produce. Implementing the EPLC framework will help ensure the quality of HHS IT products through improved project management processes.

Information technology plays a critical role in helping HHS carry out its complex, wide-ranging and evolving mission and objectives. HHS uses IT investments to support more than 300 programs that protect the health of all Americans and provide essential human services. Those programs are administered by OPDIVs which have responsibilities throughout the country. Each year, HHS invests more than $2 billion to ensure that its OPDIVs have the technology to support their programs. HHS IT investments include software and computer systems interconnected through nationwide networks. Many HHS systems are interconnected with partners in the federal, state, local, tribal and private sectors. As a result, HHS has a very complex, difficult task in ensuring that its diverse IT investments are properly aligned within a coherent Enterprise Architecture.

HHS approaches the management of IT projects with an enterprise perspective that facilitates smooth interfaces among HHS IT investments and with HHS partners. These investments and their interfaces must be adequately established through robust enterprise architecture. Adhering to recognized IT standards, as well as to Section 508, security and privacy requirements is essential to this goal. By managing and governing projects from an enterprise perspective, HHS will also be in a better position to take advantage of economies of scale, as it purchases computers, related equipment and software on a large scale - maximizing its bargaining and buying power. Furthermore, this enterprise perspective will enable improved compliance with the Clinger-Cohen Act and other legislative and regulatory requirements that require managing and governing investments from an enterprise perspective.

In addition to focusing on the planning, development, operation, and management of individual IT projects, HHS ensures that the overall portfolio of IT investments achieves maximum alignment with HHS strategic goals and maximizes the return on the Department’s IT investment. The HHS IT Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) Program, in conjunction with the IT governance process, brings together the various critical partners required to ensure maximum IT portfolio performance.

The content of this newsletter was reproduced from United States Department of Health and Human Services Enterprise Performance Life Cycle Framework Overview Document April, 24, 2007.

For more information and tools related to the topic(s) covered in this newsletter, the CDC Unified Process, or the Project Management Community of Practice please visit the CDC Unified Process website at

Please also visit the CDC Unified Process Newsletter Archive located at for access to many additional newsletters, articles, and management related topics and information.


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Contact the CDC Unified Process at or visit to arrange a short overview presentation for your group.


The CDC Unified Process Project Management Newsletter is authored by Daniel Vitek, MBA, PMP and published by the Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services.

For questions about the CDC Unified Process, comments regarding this newsletter, suggestions for future newsletter topics, or to subscribe to the CDC Unified Process Project Management Newsletter please contact the CDC Unified Process or visit



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