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FCW : November 30, 2013
26 November 30, 2013 FCW.COM In my Nov. 15 column, I discussed the importance of moving to a mod- ern, standardized and consolidated IT infrastructure, at least at an agency-by- agency level. Such infrastructure ratio- nalization is critical to enabling IT to be most effective in helping government mission or business customers. In that column, I presented four structural obstacles --- budget, pro- gram, procurement and political --- that have greatly inhibited the federal government from making signi cant progress in that area. It s not that individuals actively work against what is considered IT best prac- tice, but "the system" as it is composed today makes it dif cult to drive effec- tive IT infrastructure rationalization. Let s discuss each of those obstacles in turn, with recommendations for addressing each one. These recommen- dations are not for the faint of heart, but they are critical if we hope to drive signi cant positive progress rather than just work around the fringes. Regarding budget, the primary issue is that most IT spending lives not in a budget overseen by a CIO but rather is scattered in numerous budgets, as dictated by how appropriations are structured for that agency. Pulling funds from numerous appropriations, although doable through transfers or working capital funds, is cumbersome at best and puts the CIO and IT orga- nization at a signi cant disadvantage by forcing the CIO to cajole users to cooperate. I recommend the following: 1. The agency CIO should be given complete control over all IT infra- structure, and to the degree possible, the Of ce of Management and Budget should apportion the amount for IT infrastructure from each appropriation for all of those funds to be managed by the agency CIO. Agency chief nancial of cers must be partners with the CIOs to make this possible. 2. In parallel, OMB should work with agencies and appropriations committees on Capitol Hill to realign IT infrastructure spending across an agency so that those funds are moved under the agency CIO. The infrastruc- ture for any new IT program would be provided by the agency CIO s orga- nization, with funds allocated by the program to the agency CIO through the budget process. Regarding program obstacles, the biggest issue is that in the past, major IT programs have typically handled the procurement of their own IT infrastruc- ture, which works against the consoli- dation model. Yet programs need to deliver, and in many agencies, the CIO organization has not been in a position to provide enterprise IT infrastructure services. CIOs must step up to this responsibility. My recommendation is: 3. Agency CIOs should be given the responsibility and resources to assume accountability for exist- ing agency IT infrastructure, and they should leverage the PortfolioStat pro- cess to develop a three- to ve-year plan for modernizing and standardizing on that infrastructure. Regarding procurement ideas, for- ward-looking agencies are grappling with the best way to move into mod- ern business models for procuring IT infrastructure, most notably cloud- based services. I give OMB (through the Of ce of E-government and IT and the Of ce of Federal Procurement Pol- icy) and the General Services Adminis- tration credit for attempting to address new business models, and I believe more could be done, speci cally: 4. OMB should provide leadership in working with agencies to develop CIOPerspective BY RICHARD A. SPIRES If CIOs can drive ve tactical changes --- and then get the leadership support to do so --- federal IT could be transformed by 2018 IT infrastructure: The 4 big obstacles and 6 ways to x them Richard A. Spires has been in the IT eld for more than 30 years, with eight years in federal govern- ment service. Most recently, he served as CIO at the Department of Homeland Security.
November 15, 2013