Learning from the FDA

It is not too often that one is driven to read a report from a regulatory agency. Even rarer are the instances when we find prismatic examples of engineering and organizational leadership in these reports. That makes this strategic plan of the FDA Information Management and Office of Information Management all the more remarkable. As an inducement to read the full report, here are some results that the informatics and IT departments of many organizations, academic and industrial, would envy.

  • Reducing the number of servers from 397 to 265 (by a virtualization and hosting approach).
  • Not coincidentally, availability (i.e. not downtime) increased from 98.3% to 99.9996% (the difference between 30 seconds of unscheduled downtime and over 6 days unscheduled downtime).
  • Billions of intrusion attempts against FDA IT Systems annually with no major information security breaches.
  • Supporting annual 5-15% increases in IT capability without increases in budget.
  • Training budget for personnel eliminated and training activities of personnel increased based on savings from reduced external consultant fees.
  • Annual decrease in cost of data storage.