Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel is expected to release the details this week of a long-awaited digital strategy document, laying out his vision and direction for how federal agencies should expect to use information and mobile technologies moving into the future.
Agency CIOs and others who’ve seen the document aren’t saying what’s in it. And VanRoekel didn’t tip his hand Sunday evening during a keynote speech to a group of government and contracting executives gathered in Baltimore to attend the Government Information Technology Executive Council (GITEC) summit.
But the new digital strategy, expected out of the White House Office of Management and Budget later this week, will likely build on several recurring themes that VanRoekel has been emphasizing in recent weeks–most notably his vision for shared IT services–according to sources familiar with the soon-to-be-released strategy.
VanRoekel’s call to action to executives Sunday evening–for agencies to embrace a new investment portfolio review process called PortfolioStat and to convert IT savings into new innovations–also hinted at some of the central themes expected in the new digital strategy document.
VanRoekel is scheduled to speak publicly about the details of the strategy for the first time on May 24 at an event organized jointly by the American Council for Technology (ACT) – Industry Advisory Council (IAC) and AFFIRM at a Department of Interior auditorium in Washington, D.C.
Among the strategies expected to be emphasized in OMB’s plans is a renewed focus on reducing and consolidating duplicative commodity IT systems within federal agencies and a more rigorous effort to reinvest in innovative IT approaches.
During his remarks on Sunday, VanRoekel reiterated the senselessness in agencies continuing to host “dozens of email systems, hundreds of web sites and thousands of mobile contracts” and other commodity IT services. He also noted the difficulties businesses have working with a federal government that has 1,800 top level web site domains, and between 30,000 and 40,000 sub-domains.
“Inefficiency doesn’t serve anyone well,” he said at the GITEC event, retelling how the Department of Agriculture had reduced 21 email systems to one, laying the foundation for $500 million in savings, and how the department reduced the number of mobile contracts it managed “from 1,000 to three,” resulting in an 18% reduction in mobile costs.
With about $47 billion of the government’s nearly $80 billion in annual IT spending being channeled into commodity computing services, that kind of “double-digit savings is significant,” VanRoekel said.
However, VanRoekel also stressed the importance he and the Office of Management and Budget are placing on a new investment portfolio review process that the OMB has already begun to institute with agencies and its potential for getting agencies to see the benefits of reinvesting, not merely cutting costs.
Each agency has been tasked with gathering information about their IT systems and developing consolidation and investment plans. Then their chief financial, IT and management officers, “will have face to face meetings with the budget side of OMB,” in what is intended to be an investment review meetings rather than a budget scrubbing exercise, VanRoekel insisted.
The PortfolioStat process, which will impact the fiscal year 2014 budget cycle, is expected to add momentum to the CIO Authorities memo issued by OMB last August.
CIOs however will be responsible for submitting an enterprise roadmap to OMB by August 31, 2012, for fiscal years 2012-2015, covering their agency’s business and technology architecture, IT asset inventory, commodity IT consolidation plans, line of business service plan and by the following April, their IT shared services plan.
VanRoekel expressed hope that agencies would “jump on the PortfolioStat bandwagon…to start catalyzing investment review boards,” similar to those found in the private sector, and to “turn savings into innovation.”
VanRoekel acknowledged the reluctance agency IT departments often have in seeing their IT services consolidated elsewhere and suggested the potential for the vendor community to create a new market selling “face server fronts, with blinking lights that people can point to” even if their email service is hosted elsewhere.