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VanRoekel Address Federal IT Community

This morning I had the pleasure of listening to Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel at the Ronald Reagan Building. The event was hosted by ACT-IAC (American Councils for Technology – Industry Advisory Council). VanRoekel gave a fascinating presentation highlighting the challenges of Federal IT reform. The presentation was titled, Our Moment – the information from the event can be found below:

“Forging a More Efficient and Effective Government.”

U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel

Ronald Reagan Building Amphitheater

December 16, from 9:30AM until 11:00AM.

A conversation with the government and industry IT community

VanRoekel is the second Chief Information Officer of the United States, appointed in August by President Obama. He has had an interested career prior to his position at the White House. VanRoekel previously held two positions in the Obama Administration: Executive Director of Citizen and Organizational Engagement at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Managing Director of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). VanRoekel also worked at Microsoft Corporation from 1994 to 2009. His presentation covered what he hopes to accomplish in 2012 and provided some insights into the Federal IT world.

VanRoekel talked about some of the pressures pushing Federal IT innovation. He identified six areas he considers driving innovation, cybersecurity, fiscal pressures, “Facebook Nation,” Culture, Reliance on Sunk Costs, and US Leadership. Out of these challenges, it was interesting to hear cybersecurity and listening to VanRoekel explain how cybersecurity challenges are different than ever before, especially when you consider moving to the cloud and more use of mobile technology.

VanRoekel also identified numerous goals he hopes to achieve during his time as Federal CIO. He expressed the need to maximize ROI of Federal IT and do more with less. He commented that often agencies are really good at talking about how technology has allowed them to do more with less, like close data centers – but need to do a better job expressing what the value is and how it is actually generating more and helping to improve services for citizens.

A second goal that VanRoekel mention was to close the productivity gap. VanRoekel mentioned that government has not kept pace with the private sector in terms of technology. He was clear to mention that there are many lessons that the private sector can teach government, although the way outcomes are measured are different. A final area mentioned was to streamline how government works with business and work to break down the complexity of working with government.

Overall, I though VanRoekel gave a really interesting presentation on Federal IT. He highlighted new initiatives like FedRAMP, a new services to help federal agencies purchase services to move to the cloud. He also mentioned a few strategies for federal IT, like cut-and-invest, which hopes to find savings in IT spending and funnel the money back into government.

I also like how he made an analogy to the United States back in the 80s, coming out of the recession of the 70s. He mentioned that the feeling was that America was done as a technological superpower, and would only be a service economy. He was optimistic about the future for America in general, and for the tech industry. It was refreshing to hear something upbeat about America’s future, and I enjoyed his presentation this morning.

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