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SDWIS Prime (NextGen) Update

Except for short term delays caused by the government shut down, development continues on the drinking water software formerly known as SDWIS NextGen.  The main focus now is on the application “sprints”, the part of the development process where state subject matter experts provide input on how the new system will operate.  The sprints related to inventory and system administration/security are essentially complete, although some inventory related issues may come up in future sprints.

Sprints

Currently much of the development is going on behind the scenes and will not be visible even to those states that are members of the various focus groups.  This is because EPA and their contractor, Indus, decided that the user interface could be improved by using different software tools for that part of Prime.  This should result in better long term performance of the resulting Prime application but necessitates a temporary slowdown in the application sprints.  During the sprint hiatus this fall, states on the focus groups may be involved in “pre-sprint activities” where some of the high level user needs can be defined in more detail.  For some of the more complex issues (compliance, enforcement) multiple focus groups may work together.  With this this intensive preparatory work, when the actual sprints resume late this year or early next, the development should go more quickly and it may allow development to catch up with the original schedule.

Taking place concurrently with the application sprints are rules sprints.  In these groups, EPA rules managers are defining and mapping individual rule requirements.  The products of the rules sprints will feed a tool known as a “rules engine” which translates the rule requirements into code that can be used in Prime.  The rules engine then provides the core upon which the applications sprints will build the process for monitoring, compliance, and enforcement of the rules as the development moves into 2014.

Transitions and Conversions

While development on Prime itself continues, there are other things to consider, including how states will make the transition to Prime from SDWIS /State and other state data systems.  This includes not only conversion of the core program but any “interfacing applications” (state specific add-ons to SDWIS/State).  Also, data quality, transition schedule, funding support, and other factors must be accounted for.  LuAnn Darnell is the new EPA transition manager responsible for assisting states.  She is working on assistance tools and other support for transition.  A transition pilot is underway with a number of states to identify issues and help EPA develop the tools states will need.

Schedules

Most of you recognize that the development process for Prime has been slower than originally envisioned.  Often the delays result in the ultimate improvement of the product, but nonetheless it is behind the initial schedule.  A working Prime is still projected for September 20, 2014 but it may not be a complete match for SDWIS/State at that time.  EPA is still committed to making RTCR compliance part of the initial version of Prime.  How all this impacts when states will convert to Prime remains to be seen.  As with the conversion from legacy systems to SDWIS/State, the timing of the process is very state specific and dependent on a number of factors.  Hopefully, EPA’s work with the transition pilots will help states adequately prepare to make these decisions.

Learn More at ASDWA

A discussion of transition issues will take place during the State/EPA Roundtable at the Annual Conference later this month and other Prime issues will be discussed during the Data Management Committee meeting.  A special Prime demonstration and development update webinar for state administrators will be held on October 21.  More detailed information on SDWIS Prime will be shared on these occasions.