Steven VanRoekel at Monthly AFFIRM Luncheon Recap

Today I had the chance to attend the AFFIRM Luncheon and listen to Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel speak. AFFIRM President, Darren Ash, served as the moderator for the event. VanRoekel had some interesting observations about the Federal IT landscape. Here are a few themes I picked up from my notes:

VanRoekel was at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week and said he was amazed with some of the technologies emerging. He mentioned that government clearly has not kept pace with the consumerism of technology and government needs to rethink the way in which government delivers mobile, all while saving money. He also provided some insights on what role industry could play for government, he mentioned a few times during his presentation about app development and brief mentions of government as a platform. He also mentioned new authorization methods for government to implement to help remain secure in a mobile environment and adapt to teleworking needs. VanRoekel was clear that industry will play a critical role in these developments.

The topic of how agencies should prioritize IT initiatives was another theme of his presentation. VanRoekel’s basic premise that he built off of was that agencies need to match technical solution to that of the agency mission. He also mentioned the importance of strategic objectives and developing a culture of “continuous improvements,” not just fixing solution X and calling it a day.

VanRoekel mentioned that the one thing that has really suprised him since he entered the Federal workforce was the enormous difference between politics and governance, which is not always made clear to the general public. VanRoekel said he was inspired by the number of federal workers dedicated to their organizational missions, and that has served as a source of motivation. Also, he mentioned the amount of innovation in government, and how he see’s part of his role as helping agencies to tell there stories of innovation.

As usual, I really enjoyed hearing VanRoekel speak – it is the second time I have heard him speak and both times I have really enjoyed his presentation. There are a lot of challenges facing Federal IT and as VanRoekel mentioned, to get where we need to go it will take a strategy of “continuous improvements,” constantly looking at the right technological solutions to solve organizational challenges, and leverage technological to meet agencies missions.

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Julie Chase

I would love it if he would talk to DoN and the MC and tell them to “relax” about IT. It should not take 6 months and a mountain of paperwork to purchase hardware. It should not take an act of Congress and a committee of 25 to approve “mission essential” software for an organization. Enough of the “Fed Tape” already. We are working with Windows XP Professional, IE 6, Office 2007, thumb drives are banned, you cannot connect your IPod to your computer to listen to music without bells and whistles going off…..Gov Loop is banned. If it’s NOT a classified machine, what is the big deal? Gov Agencies are buying IPADS and Androids and apping themselves into the future and we are STUCK in the 90’s. Oh, by the way, IPADS are made in China. Not sure which gov agency got away with purchasing off the TAA or CCR.