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Shocking the System through IT Reform

Over the last 18 months, the Administration has made great strides clearing obstacles in the way of reform, allowing agencies to leverage information technology to create a more efficient and effective Government.

Washington, DC has never suffered from a lack of ambitious plans and strategies to tackle tough challenges. The sticking point, often, is execution. This is why in December of 2010, when we launched the 25 Point Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management, we committed to a focus on execution to tackle obstacles that get in the way of lasting reform.

From day one, this Administration has recognized how critical that type of reform is. By cutting waste in IT across the Federal portfolio, we’re not only saving taxpayer dollars, but also improving the overall function and efficiency of the government.

Over the last 18 months, the Administration has made great strides clearing obstacles in the way of reform, allowing agencies to leverage information technology to create a more efficient and effective Government. While the 25 points have not solved all Federal IT challenges, they addressed many of the most pressing, persistent challenges we face.  Most importantly, this plan established many wins that will drive our efforts well into the future.

For example, the 25 Point Plan addressed some of the basics around the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative.  These include dedicating a senior program manager in charge of consolidation at each agency, establishing an interagency Task Force to drive consolidation and sharing of best practices, and launching a government-wide marketplace to promote the availability of data center space to other Federal offices.  We also recognized there is more we can do, so we expanded our data center consolidation efforts, increasing our goal by 50 percent from the original set in 2010.

As of March, 267 data centers have been decommissioned across the Federal Government and by the end of 2012, we plan to have closed a total of 429. Additionally, on June 9, OMB and GSA will launch the data center marketplace inside government, which will help agencies better utilize spare capacity within operational data centers.

Yesterday, we launched the Initial Operating Capability of the Federal Risk Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).  FedRAMP will enable agencies to have confidence that their data will remain safe and secure when they deploy a cloud solution – without requiring each agency to reinvent the wheel each time they choose to shift to the cloud.   

Under the 25 Point Plan we jumpstarted the adoption of cloud computing, shifting agency mindsets in the process.  Beginning in FY 2013, we expect cloud migrations to save agencies about $100 million a year, at that is for email alone. And while these savings are notable, cloud computing also enables agencies to improve service and produce business efficiencies that save even more.

On May 2, 2012, OMB published the Shared Services Strategy, which required agencies to identify IT services to migrate to a shared service model by the end of 2012. Agencies identified 60 initiatives, totaling $34 million in annual cost savings and avoidance. These are just the tip of the iceberg as it pertains to shared services.  Through the PortfolioStat process this summer, we will begin to see great results and incorporate these savings and reinvestments into the FY 2014 President’s budget.

In May 2011, OPM and OMB launched the IT Program Manager career path. Over the last year, agencies have designated over 1,000 IT Program Managers with the experience and know-how to hold agency and contractor staff accountable for substantial taxpayer investments. These individuals now manage major IT investments that for decades were plagued by mismanagement and poor governance.

Without question, TechStat has been one of the major successes of the IT Reform Plan. To date, agencies have held over 300 TechStats and trained over 1,500 employees in the process, exponentially growing the work that started two years ago. As we drive TechStat into the bureaus and components of agencies, we are seeing positive shifts in accountability and management.

The 25 Point Plan has without question served its purpose as a shock to the system. Prior to the plan’s launch, agencies were sporadically migrating to cloud solutions, major IT investments were managed by individuals with varying degrees of expertise and experience,  the acquisition process did not keep pace with the technology cycle, TechStat reviews were held only by OMB, and CIO authority within agencies was too often lacking.

Fast-forward 18 months and now cloud migration is no longer an aspiration but a reality across the government, all major investments are led by a dedicated program manager, contracting guidance to support modular IT development will better align acquisition and technology cycles, the Federal Government has achieved cost savings of over $4 billion as a result of the TechStat process, and a majority of CIOs have formal authority to review and approve the major IT investments in their agency portfolio.

We will continue to eliminate duplication wherever we find it and shift spending from the costly maintenance of outdated systems to more efficient technologies.By doing so, we can improve the delivery of mission critical services, as we work together with Congress to hold agency IT budgets in check and reduce the costs to the American people.

Steven VanRoekel is the Federal Chief Information Officer – for more information visit