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CASE STUDIES

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Passenger Systems Program Directorate (PSPD) Program and Project Management Engineering Services Support TECS Modernization (TECS Mod)
Background

Garud is working with CBP in the modernizing of the legacy TECS system. TECS is the principal system used by officers at Ports of Entry to assist with traveler screening and admissibility determinations.  TECS is a large, complex Information Technology (IT) system that supports 70,000+ users from over 20 stakeholder organizations responsible for traveler.

A Unique Technical Challenge

To best manage risks to cost, schedule and performance, TECS Mod testing is performed continuously throughout the development and acquisition life cycle. As new modules are made available, test scenarios and methods are developed and applied to evaluate the functionality. Our reporting informed necessary improvements, that could be incorporated in the next development cycle so that overall development progress continues as corrections are being implemented (e.g. in Agile methodologies).

An added level of complexity in this program is that both the legacy system functionality and the modernized functionality are in operation and are being supported simultaneously. This means that agents continue to use software tools hosted on the legacy mainframe while participating in operational test events hosted on cloud servers (in the case of the modernized functionality). Moreover, given policy restrictions with law enforcement sensitive systems, GTS had to apply adaptive assessment methods, leveraging training and other developmental environments to assist an Operational Test Agent in the determination of operational effectiveness and suitability.

What has GTS done to ensure CBP is successful?
Ensuring Transparency and Communication across the Project

GTS understands that timely information regarding system performance is critical to complex, high-profile, time-sensitive IT acquisition programs. To facilitate the free flow of information for this effort, we hosted a highly-interactive and collaborative forum for weekly engagement of the CBP customer and each functional area of the TECS Modernization team. With oversight from the program manager, we track information requirements between stakeholders and tailor data collection and reporting to support their unique data requirements. We also manage meeting agendas; track risks to cost, schedule and performance; and facilitate discussions between participants so that emerging issues can be identified before they become obstacles. The result in a non-attributional work environment where participants are empowered to work together to mitigate risk items before problems are compounded.

Applicability to Other Projects

Enterprise-wide IT projects are typically the highest-risk acquisitions that a program manager can be tasked to execute. An operational test approach that produces evaluations only for milestone decision reviews does little to inform design decisions that can be significant drivers of cost and schedule. When OT&E is deferred until major phases of development are nearing completion, the program manager and the system developer must rely solely on developmental measures of performance at each spiral or sprint, an approach that can obscure critical design shortfalls until the cost to correct them becomes prohibitive.