Case Study

United States Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS): COPS – Reviving Faith and Excitement in IT Delivery

Key Findings

  • Understanding of the agency’s business—in this case, federal grant-making—is vital to fully comprehending and meeting agency needs
  • Defined processes, especially those based on best practices such as CMMI, ITIL, and PMBoK, improve operational agility and responsiveness
  • With the right preparation, transitioning from contractor to contractor can save money and improve effectiveness very quickly


The COPS Office is like the Justice League of America. As a Federal grant-making agency, COPS is responsible for advancing community policing nationwide and supporting state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. Since 1995, the agency has invested $11.9 billion to advance community policing, including nearly 36,000 grants awarded to more than 13,000 state and local law enforcement agencies to hire more than 118,000 officers and provide numerous technical assistance resources. COPS helps keep the nation safer by improving the quality and effectiveness of community policing across the country.


IT operations at COPS had reached a point of stagnation. Innovation had stalled, meaning the agency’s IT services were underperforming while the workload and pressures on COPS’ staff grew. In addition, COPS needed to:

  • Improve the provision of end-to-end IT services
  • Enhance development of a critical grants management system
  • Reduce costs
  • Increase the effectiveness of overall IT operations.

The time was ripe for a new face and a fresh organized approach to tackle this mission.


TCG transitioned support from a company that had served COPS for 10 years. We captured 100% of requirements and increased operational stability within the first month of the contract by implementing CMMI and project management best practices—and all while reducing the overall budget, maintaining the same staffing levels, and implementing improved service-level agreements.

The benefits of our approach were clear. For example, the incumbent contractor had begun development of a new Web strategy but in two years had not completed the prototype. Upon contract start, our team analyzed the requirements and code that the incumbent had produced and implemented a structured methodology to better guide the development process. This allowed us to schedule multiple iterations in short phases and reuse as much existing code as possible. This phased cycle methodology allowed us to produce results quickly and add value at each phase. A completed prototype was delivered to COPS within three months, and was placed into production two months later. In effect, the TCG Team completed in five months what had eluded the agency for two years.

TCG provides COPS with project management, applications development and maintenance, network support, and help desk services. We lead efforts in application development, database administration, and network support. We identify additional resources, hire subcontractors, and co-manage the project as a whole.

We have implemented industry standard project management and software development best practices advisory services, including implementation of PMBOK, CMMI, RUP, and ITIL processes and policies.

This approach has created such success at COPS that the project scope has increased by 33% to date while continuing to operate under budget.


Tim Quinn, as COPS Chief of Staff, has been extremely complimentary about our team’s performance. In December 2006, he noted that, “Every day someone stops me in the hallway to say how happy they are that you’re here.”

In February 2007, after successful implementation of a custom grant progress reporting system, Mr. Quinn, “Never before have I had to worry about IT less.”

Taxpayer Savings: $12 million

For every project, TCG tracks the savings generated by innovation in methods and technologies. The COPS IT Support project has saved the US taxpayer over $12 million. Here are some ways that COPS can claim savings from our work:

  • By incorporating the ITIL process and procedure into the COPS projects and daily tasks, we save time and money, and produce a more effective solution
  • Acceptance of Recovery Act grant applications using an online system removed the requirement to manually manage and process paper applications