Office of the Chief Information Officer

United States Department of Agriculture

Optimized Computing Environment (OCE)

Keeping Pace with Change

As the business of USDA evolves, the IT infrastructure that supports the Department must change. But in what specific ways? According to which priorities?

The Optimized Computing Environment (OCE) supports modernization and technological advancement across the Service Center Agencies (SCA) enterprise. It is a five-year program that started in 2012. When fully completed, it will define a set of IT standards for aligning SCA infrastructure to its mission.

OCE Program Overview

Since the initial deployment of the Common Computing Environment in 2000, the IT world has changed dramatically. In the past 15 years, the marketplace has grown through advances in communications technology, options for expansion, the ability to more efficiently use available resources, and increased flexibility for improved mission performance. While these changes were taking place, the infrastructure remained the same. The environment was using a break-fix model that caused increased downtime and higher restoration expenses. Due to underinvestment, the IT computing space lagged behind technological advances to meet overall business needs.

With increasing demands on the infrastructure to support new technologies and modernized SCA business practices, it was essential to design an investment strategy to best use the resources in the environment and install new equipment to provide optimal performance in the field and state offices. Through the OCE investment, Client Technology Services (CTS) began to provide a flexible and stable infrastructure with the ability to expand to meet future needs. In addition to optimizing overall operations, these upgrades significantly mitigate the risks to SCA mission delivery that are inherent to the outdated segments of infrastructure.  With OCE investments, CTS laid the framework necessary for infrastructure modernization and continued operations. Through OCE, CTS has been able to make the move from the break-fix operations model by refreshing infrastructure and modernizing technology to meet current and future business requirements. The OCE investment is continuing to build on these core investments to improve usage of new infrastructure and optimize the office architecture.  Each year of OCE builds on the investments of the prior years.