A special edition of the DorobekINSIDER today we went LIVE. This is the second time we’ve done this and we’ll be doing it regularly in next year. The idea is to get smart people together and share ideas because we believe that the real power of information comes when it is shared.
Today, we’re looking at the year in government IT — technology. And there was so much that happened this year; seemingly never ending battles. Some people said there was a do-nothing Congress. It seems to me they were more like a deadline congress. There were budget super-committees. there was a Digital Government Initiative and a host of new words became real in our lives… BYOD… yes, cloud… big data… and we can’t forget security. This was the year that cyber-security and cyber-war started to merge.
We had some of the best and the brightest joined us to flesh it out and explained what it all means and how you can be prepared in the days, weeks and months ahead:
- Karen Evans – the former Administrator of the Office of Electronic Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget — the post now known as the federal CIO. Currently she is a partner at US Cyber Challenge and at KE&T Partners.
- Paul Brubaker is a consultant who has been both in and out of government. Paul served as a senior aide to then Sen. Bill Cohen and helped write the Clinger-Cohen Act, the law that created the position of federal CIOs. He has also served as the deputy CIO at the Defense Department and the administrator at the Transportation Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA).
- Tom Suder is the President Mobilegov and is widely recognized as one of the mobile thought leaders out there.
- PF: Pat Fiorenza, Research Analyst at GovLoop and the author of our Technology Guide.
Highlights from the Conversation
Define IT in 2012?
- Brubaker: “2012 was a year I was disturbed by because it was all about technology not about the strategic use of technology. Focus in 2012 was about enabling technologies like big data, cloud computing mobility. Agencies weren’t think in a strategic way. What we need to be focused on are those very specific, measurable context goals. We should think not about technology but about what we can do with it.”
- Evans: “When you have a scarcity of resources it forces you to innovate. That’s why I think now is a very interesting time for government. This year was the 10th anniversary of the E-Government Act. And what’s so interesting is we are facing the same challenges now that we did 10 years ago, but now those challenges are coming so much faster and with much greater frequency.”
- Suder:”The Digital Government Strategy came about this year and it was very interesting because I had one agency tell me they couldn’t talk about their plans for mobility because they were too focused on implementing the strategy. We want agencies to go to a mobile first strategy because it helps them do their jobs better, not because it’s a regulation. Agencies need to be in strategic mode.”
Be Strategic – Focus on the O-Word – Outcomes
- Brubaker: “Think of data center consolidation, shrinking the number of data centers just to shrink the size of government operations, it’s strategic. It’s really important that agencies spend the time to really figure out how to re-engineer business processes. Performance management has the ability to put IT in context.
- Evans:“The GPRA Modernization Act is forcing us to really have a dialogue around performance metrics. But the framework still needs to be solidified. Plans and milestones should also be included in the Digital Government Strategy.
- Suder: “We’re not doing big projects anymore. If you run the numbers a mobile project takes 1/12 of the time and 1/12 of the budget as other projects. It’s easier to add and throwaway mobile capabilities.”
- Brubaker: “But mobile is not a silver bullet. Some things take time and complex systems. Take the FAA Next Gen project. The reality is that it’s a hairy and old system. Even if you use agile development and align all the right people it could still take you a long time to accomplish your task.”
Austerity of Personnel – Evans and Brubaker Go Into Debate Mode
- Brubaker: “Another aspect of this whole thing is people. If you start pulling people out because of cuts, you could pull out the wrong people and be in a world of hurt.”
- Evans: “Departments need to justify what they are doing. When you have a duplicative program with another agency and you can’t explain why your is different or necessary be prepared for it to be cut. Those are the programs and management teams that will go first.”
- Brubaker: “That’s ideally how it should work. But these things aren’t easy or straightforward.”
- Evans: “It’s easier when you factor in that all these projects are on a timeline. Agencies just won’t execute an option to have them continue. Options on a lot of these projects are just not going to be executed.”
Procurement and Acquisition Reform
- Suder: “We need to develop agile procurement. We need to do it faster. With GSA’s Better Buy project we were able to crowdsource RFI’s. It made it much simpler.”
- Brubaker: “But we don’t just want to speed up a broken procurement cycle.”
- Evans: “We need a faster way for sure, but if you are brining in technologies for technology’s sake then it’s pointless. We need records management. That’s strategic.”
Role of the CIO – Should it evolve again?
- Evans: “What makes a CIO success like the VA’s Roger Baker is that he controls the money. It forces the discussion because all the money is housed in the right place.”
- Brubaker: “I think in recent years we’ve actually seen the de-evolution of CIO’s. They’ve never been strategic players. And since Y2K they’ve shifted into a more hardcore IT role. They’ve become the Chief Geek. They are not trying to apply strategic IT strategies across the agency. When I was at the Defense Department and the Transportation Department the CIO got pushed aside.”
- Evans: “It’s almost like the CIO has evolved into being a risk manager instead of strategic player. They need to step up to it.
- Suder: “DHS IG has looked in the role of the CIO.” Check out the report here.
Peering Into the Crystal Ball – 2013
- Suder: “In 2012 we talked a lot about mobility. It was one of the most hyped phrases in government. But in 2013 we’re going to see agencies actually using mobility as part of the mission.”
- Evans: “My focus has been on cybersecurity and data management. Mobility will really enable that. They will also need to have a bigger focus on records management. They way we are moving now we really need to be able to archive everything so people 100 years from now can understand why we made the decisions we did.”
- Brubaker: “We need to re-engineer the business of government. We are going to need a strong performance management network.”
GovLoop has just published the GovLoop Guide that looks at government IT in the past year.
The GovLoop Guide: Government Technology Year in Review
|Agile Government||Cloud Technology||Turning Data into Power||Expansion of Mobility||Social Government|
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