Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel provided preliminary technology details that will support President Obama’s plans, announced earlier today, that call for merging the trade and commerce activities of six federal agencies and for making it easier for businesses to interact with federal agencies.
VanRoekel also elaborated on a series of new initiatives his office is taking to promote cross-governmental technology strategies in the coming year.
VanRoekel made his remarks during a luncheon hosted in Washington by the Association for Federal Information Management. His comments came on the heels of a speech two days earlier at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas during which he announced a new 2012 “Roadmap for Federal Mobility.”
As part of the Obama administration’s efforts to make it easier for businesses to increase or accelerate their export activities, the White House has launched, and plans to develop, a new website called Business.USA.gov, VanRoekel said.
The website is part of broader plans the president announced today that includes asking Congress for the authority to merge the trade and commerce activities of six federal agencies into a single unit under the direction of the Small Business Administration. The new combined agency would fold up under the Department of Commerce and be elevated to have Cabinet level authority, VanRoekel said.
Currently, businesses looking for federal export help must navigate through six major departments and agencies: U.S. Department of Commerce’s core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
“Instead of an inside-looking-out perspective,” VanRoekel said, the administration, and the President’s Management Advisory Board, which recommended the changes, wants to promote “an outside-looking-in perspective” for businesses.
The new Business.USA.gov website will be hosted and operated by the General Services Administration, in parallel to the government’s USA.gov site, according to David McClure, GSA Associate Administrator, Citizen Services & Innovative Technologies, who spoke to AOL Government following VanRoekel’s remarks.
AFFIRM president, Nuclear Regulatory Commission CIO Darren Ash, hosts Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel at AFFIRM’s monthly luncheon Jan. 13.
VanRoekel described a mobile revolution taking place that “is changing the way we interact, the way we consume and the way we work,” and that the federal government “needs to seize on this mobile opportunity” both in how we serve the public and in how government employees work.”
Going mobile doesn’t just increase productivity, he said, but it also is a huge cost saver.
That presents “a bigger opportunity to deliver service to Americans,” he said, and the potential for government to serve up new platforms on which people can innovate.
He cited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s as an example of how an entire industry has emerged from developing tools that make use of the government’s weather data.
He predicted that by next year, the real estate industry would likely be developing new applications that would show prospective homeowners broadband and WiFi availability for specific properties, using freely-available government data.
VanRoekel also reiterated his new office’s plans to develop a new federal mobile strategy, unveiled earlier this week at the Consumer Electronic Show.
The plan calls for a new website that collects ideas from industry; developing a broad strategy for mobile adoption over the next 60 days; hammering out new acquisition vehicles in the next six months to help spur mobile technology in government; and developing new applications.
As part of those effort, the federal CIO’s office, working with the General Services Administration, has launched a new “national dialogue” website designed to collect, and vote on, ideas to develop that strategy. The ideas are to be centered around six core objectives:
- Incorporate the power and possibilities of mobility into Federal government efforts.
- Build mobile technologies/services for reuse and share common services among agencies and public developers.
- Efficiently manage mobile and wireless acquisition, inventory, and expenses.
- Create a government-wide foundation to provide mobility services and functionality needed in all agencies.
- Foster collaboration to accelerate mobility across government.
- Establish governance structure for Federal mobility.
The site, which is open for input through Jan. 23 also provides a working outline for a proposed draft of the mobility strategy.
He stressed, however, his intent to remain “device agnostic.” He also said he expected “a big part of this will be a bring-your-device strategy.”
He acknowledged a variety of technical and security issues must be hammered out, however.
“I’d love to have just one device with your federal content living within a walled garden,” he said, noting that “there are vendors out there doing that now.” But he envisioned that the need to stay technology-neutral would likely mean shorter term inefficiency for government agencies, but would ultimately be positive in preserving innovation.
Another key area he discussed was the need for the federal government to take a new perspective on its IT investments, noting that the ability to depreciate technology-available to help finance and refresh technology in the private sector-is generally not available in the federal government.
“The federal government functions on operations and maintenance, and new services, without an ability to account for depreciation. That tends to reduce investment in the new, and focusing spending on the old, he said.
He cited decisions recently at the Department of Transportation to identify the “bottom 10-to-15% of IT services” that are least used by department employees and redeployng the resources for those services into newer, higher value services as an example of progress is nevertheless being made.
VanRoekels remarks were originally streamed live by AFFIRM and Breaking Gov. j