David McClure calls the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) “a little sparkplug igniting innovation all across government.”
Indeed, OCSIT’s just-released 2012 annual report, “More for Mission,” serves as a 51-page catalogue for the office’s multi-pronged push for innovation in technology in the federal government.
“We are a lean but incredibly productive office,” said McClure, OCSIT’s associate administrator.
In 2012, OCSIT continued to implement government-wide solutions and lead key information technology management reform initiatives that will let agencies “significantly increase operational efficiency and effectiveness, saving significant resources,” he said.
At the top of the innovation agenda is OCSIT’s drive for the adoption of cloud computing across government through its Federal Cloud Computing Initiative (FCCI) Program Management Office. According to the report, potential government spending on cloud computing is $20 billion, which would amount to a quarter of the current total federal IT budget of $80 billion.
In its first two years, Challenge.gov posted 212 challenges from 48 agencies, which awarded more than $34 million in prize money to citizen ‘solvers.’ “
In the last year, OCSIT solidified its role as the government-wide champion for cloud computing, “helping agencies to identify and move to cloud-based solutions when a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists,” McClure said. The program office is leading the way in cloud computing through a range of initiatives:
–Working for GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service to establish contract vehicles for cloud computing, including infrastructure as a service and e-mail as a service.
–Leading by example by hosting and managing some of the administration’s showcase Web sites in secure and reliable cloud-computing environments, such as data.gov, usa.gov, challenge.gov and businessUSA.gov.
–Managing the Federal Risk Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), www.fedramp.gov a nascent framework for security assessment, authorization and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services. Officials expect FedRAMP to help accelerate agency adoption of cloud services by alleviating security concerns.
According to the report, agencies seeking to acquire cloud services have shown “strong support and demand” for FedRAMP. GSA launched “initial operating capability” for FedRAMP last June to assess new guidelines and processes, the report said.
OCSIT also manages the government-wide Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, a major contributor to IT infrastructure optimization, one of the administration’s top IT priorities. The report noted that, among other accomplishments, the FCCI program office has developed a comprehensive total cost model that lets agencies analyze alternative consolidation scenarios and use “data-driven decisionmaking” for infrastructure cost and performance optimization.
Among other projects, OCSIT’s USASearch, a commercial grade search engine, has more than doubled the number of Web sites it supports in the last year, to 1,100 sites from 400 sites. Six cabinet-level agencies now use USASearch to power their department and agency-level Web sites. USASearch’s services are available at no cost to state and local government agencies as well as federal agencies.
“USASearch improved the quality of NC.gov’s search results 1,000-fold,” said Lois Nilsen, Web content manager for North Carolina’s state government Web site.
On another front, OCSIT’s Mobile Program Management Office is helping agencies meet the rising public demand for anytime, anywhere, any device access to government information and services. According to the report, for example, the office built a community-generated and edited Mobile Gov Wiki as a toolkit for agencies to use in creating and rolling out their mobile strategies.
Another promising OCSIT program is challenge.gov, a platform where federal agencies can use crowd-sourcing to seek innovative solutions to problems. In its first two years, the report states, challenge.gov posted 212 challenges from 48 agencies, which awarded more than $34 million in prize money to citizen “solvers.”
OCSIT also has expanded its focus on social media and helped agencies “stay ahead of the curve” as the use of social media explodes across government. For instance, the office’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government uses @GovNewMedia Twitter account to share trends and activities in new media across government. Last year, the account saw a 388 percent increase in retweets and a 236 percent rise in replies, according to the report.
Looking ahead in 2013, McClure said, OCSIT will continue its dual mission of delivering innovative technologies and services to the public and to its government customers.