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Fundamental Changes

By Robert Otto  |  Posted 05-04-2009 Print

In reality, this multi-year government technology plan (GTP) should build upon the points that they're already championing while addressing many of the concerns I've highlighted. The objective is to get ALL of government IT following the same marching orders so that we can capitalize on economies of scale and the benefits of consolidation while overcoming the constraints of interoperability once and for all.

Within the GTP, I'd advise them to address the following priorities:

1.    As part of a performance-oriented culture, work with agency secretaries to ensure that a significant percentage - 50 percent - of the CIO's bonus is directly related to success in implementing the GTP.

2.    Standardize the role of CIO throughout government with more consistent roles, responsibilities, operational structures and performance measurements.

3.    Establish as an overriding meta-model for all agencies an overall business, technology, service, data and information architecture for government. 

4.    Ensure greater consistency by defining a minimal set of common standards and governance requirements for mandatory use across all government agencies, including:

a.    Security, identity and access controls
b.    Data models and presentations
c.    Application services
d.    Datacenter operations and hosting
e.    Network management
f.    System interfaces
g.    Telework policies
h.    Tools
i.    Project management methodologies

5.    Establish a government-wide collaboration and information-sharing network to facilitate inter-agency cooperation and ad hoc workgroups.

6.    Create a shared government cloud to replace the vast majority of federal, state and local data centers.

7.    Extend the Bush-era line-of-business initiatives to support additional shared service centers supporting common requirements, such as HR, finance, procurement, real estate and facilities management, and help desks.

8.    Mandate a single government-wide standard for data uses throughout government and support efforts, such as master data management, to create a 'single citizen view' across all agencies.

9.    Consolidate research & development investments within a single, government-wide organization and require vendors to work through it to validate new technologies for government adoption.

10.    Work with Congress to support procurement reform so that the government can capitalize on more innovative vendors and more agile business models.

The strategic benefits here are twofold.  Rather that continuing to reinvent the wheel by duplicating common solutions, CIOs can focus their innovation and development resources on those areas of most strategic importance to their agency. And with a clear, long-term roadmap in place, they can develop, build and acquire new systems, infrastructure and policies that work to achieve these government-wide objectives. 

While this may seem elementary, this level of clarity and specificity is needed to ensure that each agency is working off the same game plan and has no excuses for deviation from plan. While this won't solve every problem--nor will it occur overnight--it will make it possible over a 10- to 12-year period to leave nearly all of our legacy constraints behind as agencies embrace a more standardized, centralized and simplified approach to IT.

Robert Otto is executive vice president for advisory services with Agilex Technologies. Previously, he worked for 38 years in federal IT management, most recently as CIO and CTO of the United States Postal Service. 


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