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FCW : May 30, 2015
May 30, 2015 FCW.COM 23 The Obama administration's early Of ce of Management and Budget initiatives and the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act now being implemented all have been well-intentioned, but none has offered an over-arching IT strategy. One of the main reasons that the Clinger-Cohen Act failed to rein in waste, and why all the intervening reform efforts have had only limited impact, is the absence of an enterprise organizational design for IT acquisition and management. There are guidelines, regulations and initiatives, but there is no centralized, integrated strategy supported by a corresponding organizational structure. The government has been intensely fragmented when it comes to IT acquisition. Read in a vacuum, the pre-2015 OMB initiatives, many of which were memorialized by FITARA, are hard to criticize. Yet these well-meaning and hand-crafted initiatives have been trapped within a dysfunctional structure. The "25- Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management" of 2010 was less a strategy than a tactical assault. It articulated 25 concrete steps to try to achieve particular short-term outcomes. Likewise, 2012's effort, "Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People," addressed the need to ensure that the systems managing public data were designed to maximize the public's ability to use the data. Again, it was a component of a strategy, not an acquisition design. Since Clinger-Cohen, most of the initiatives have been tantamount to designing beautiful windows and doors for a house that sits on a faulty foundation. Government is not really an enterprise At the core of the strategy vacuum is the oft-ignored reality that the government does not operate like a conventional enterprise. Rather, the government "manages" its IT like a holding company with a portfolio of many disparate assets. The current structural approach is to treat the agencies as independent entities with the ability to determine their own IT paths, guided by maxims such as "cloud rst" and coupled with oversight at the budgetary level from OMB. That approach lacks cohesion and inhibits the ability to develop and exploit best practices. It has been an ad hoc structure devoid of an enterprise strategy. The fragmentation also hinders the ability to develop valued expertise or deploy any of the various continuous improvement methodologies that have been so useful for the private sector. The less-than-stellar results we've Why reforms fall short After two decades of good intentions, it's time for an enterprise strategy for IT acquisition and management BY MICHAEL GARLAND The guidance touches on other areas of FITARA's legislative language, includ- ing strategic sourcing, data center con- solidation, governmentwide software purchasing and IT acquisition cadres. But because those elements were so closely modeled on existing Obama administration initiatives, there wasn't much in the way of new material. Updates in areas that require ne-tuning to comply with FITARA will be released before the end of scal 2015. One of the law's key architects is pleased with OMB's efforts. "The proposal represents an impor- tant milestone in transforming FITARA from the letter of the law on paper to the reality in practice across the fed- eral government," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told FCW. "Importantly, the draft guidance recognizes that effectively implementing enhanced CIO authori- ties requires that reforms be carried out across the entirety of an agency's C-suite leadership." Connolly also stressed the impor- tance of CIOs using the new powers they've been given. "I look forward to working closely with the FITARA implementation team to further re ne and enhance this pro- posal, particularly with respect to ensur- ing that agency CIOs utilize the full authority under FITARA to ensure that they have the right component agency CIOs in place now," he said. Federal CIO Tony Scott said at a May 1 conference that the guidance is not so much about ramping up CIO authority as it is about rationalizing agency pro- cesses to accommodate the integral role that technology plays in government operations. "There's nothing you can do, no busi- ness decision you can make that doesn't have some huge technology implication or impact," he said. The window for public feedback on the draft guidance closed May 30, and OMB promised to review and incorpo- rate suggestions, "as appropriate, to develop nal guidance in the coming weeks." n
May 15, 2015
June 15, 2015