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FCW : November 15, 2013
26 November 15, 2013 FCW.COM Starting with IT infrastructure For more than eight years, I had the pleasure and privilege of serving the federal government in a number of senior-level positions, in both the George W. Bush and Obama admin- istrations. Based on my experience, I believe that improving IT man- agement and delivery in the federal government can have as great an impact on government ef ciency and effectiveness as anything else that can be done. Given that belief, I m excited to launch this new series with FCW in which I will take a look at ways we can improve IT management in government. My aim is not merely to assert but to show through logic and demonstrable experience why I advocate for a certain approach. I welcome well-reasoned comments on these columns, especially those that bring credible arguments to challenge my views. Although this is not a blog, I do intend to publicly answer comments that I believe bring up particularly insightful or provocative views. A couple of years ago, I was fortu- nate to be in a meeting that included a number of the CIOs for Fortune 50 companies, organizations in which IT has been a true competitive discrimina- tor. In the course of the discussion, it became clear that effectively leveraging IT for an enterprise requires the mod- ernization, standardization and appro- priate consolidation of the underlying IT infrastructure --- including network- ing, computing and some standard soft- ware platforms, in particular email and other collaboration tools. All the CIOs concurred that although one objective was to be more ef cient and save money, a consolidated IT infrastructure also enabled more effec- tive and timely delivery of new capa- bilities for their business customers and improved the overall IT security posture of their organizations. All the CIOs acknowledged that the process of standardizing and consolidating IT infrastructure is dif cult, but all argued that it is critical for long-term success. The session was another powerful validation to me of one of the fun- damental problems underlying the issues we face in federal government IT: the inability to properly modern- ize, standardize and consolidate our IT infrastructure. Since the beginning of the Obama administration, there have been a num- ber of interrelated initiatives driven by the federal CIO to address the issues of IT infrastructure, at least at an agency- by-agency level. Under Vivek Kundra, the Federal Data Center Consolidation and cloud- rst initiatives were born. Steve VanRoekel created PortfolioStat, which subsumed those earlier initia- tives with the intent of helping each agency develop an approach to ratio- nalize its IT infrastructure. Each of those initiatives is well- intentioned, and very capable employ- ees at the Of ce of Management and Budget are working with each agency on their plans. Yet in almost all large agencies, we are far from the level of modernization, standardization and consolidation laid out in the discus- sion by private-sector CIOs. In most instances, the agency CIO does not have control or oversight over all IT infrastructure, and in some agencies, the CIO has surprisingly little insight and oversight. Further, although the CIO community might agree on what should be done in IT infrastructure rationalization, there is not the buy-in across the leadership of government that these initiatives are foundational to the improvement of government effectiveness. I have been in the crucible twice as a government CIO, and from that vantage point, I believe there are four systemic areas critical to achieving the degree of modernization, standardization and consolidation necessary for real opera- tional and cost ef ciency. In each of these areas, there are structural obsta- cles, but I believe that if those obsta- cles can be overcome, we can mod- ernize, standardize and consolidate IT infrastructure. • Budget structure. The appropria- tions process typically scatters funds CIOPerspective BY RICHARD A. SPIRES The possibilities of consolidation --- and the structural obstacles to overcome
October 30, 2013
November 30, 2013