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We’ve seen the U.S. Government CIO publicize his plan to Do More with Less Through Strategic Investment and now the White House has published the Federal Information Technology Shared Services Strategy (May 2, 2012).  

Its main points are:

  • Need to Innovate with Less – the large fiscal deficit drives this necessity but really the IT consolidation that is occurring throughout the U.S. Government is something that should have been done from the beginning.  Quantities of Scale are not a new discovery and the ability for the USG to combine together to provide a single service provided for the entirety of the organization is now paramount.  The disappointing aspect of this document is that is bounds itself to only the Executive Branch of the USG.  The requirement to “Deliver solutions faster, for less money, and with fewer resources” is a significant challenge.  One that will only be accomplished through this quantity of scale solution.
  • While I would agree that “Federal Agency CIOs are well positioned to work with other agency executives and provide leadership for the Shared-First effort by using a cross-organizational perspective to identify opportunities for the consolidation of redundant mission, support, and commodity IT services at all levels,” I don’t believe they are empowered sufficiently enough to accomplish what is being required of them.  One must remember that the USG has only had two CIO’s.  This entity within the Government sector is an exceptionally junior member that has only recently been able to sit at the table with the well established executives within our Government.  There is significant differences from organization to organization with respect to how the CIO is positioned and how empowered the individual is within the organization.  This all equates to their overall effectiveness.  I think this aspect represents the largest portion of risk to this initiative.
  • A new requirement for Chief Operating Officers (COOs) is hidden within the generation of a thing called PortfolioStat.
  • What is a PortfolioStat?A PortfolioStat session is a face-to-face, evidence-based review of an agency’s IT portfolio that includes examining cost, schedule and performance data on commodity IT investments, and identifying potential duplications or investments that do not appear to be well aligned to agency missions or business functions, with an eye toward consolidating or eliminating those investments to free up agency funds for innovation and other requirements (Glad we cleared that up – Effective oversight, check).
  • The document then goes on to identify the Managing Partner, Customer, and Supplier for the Shared IT services.  I’m fairly sure we could have figured this out on our own.  Should have just cut to the chase and formed a new Government “Pick your favorite major IT company” like a Government Google or Government Microsoft, etc.  At least with a solution like this we could focus the quantities of scale dollars on IT experts vice having a bounty of average IT individuals.
  • Critical Success Factors – Executive Support (won’t happen without it), Cultural Change (change in Gov’t = slow), Business Process Reengineering (see previous comment about change), Technology Enablement (hmm might have heard this before), Resource Realignment (see change comment), Adoption Strategy (more change), Continuous Improvement (isn’t this institutionalized yet?).
  • Commodity IT – one great thing thus far.  But since it wasn’t defined how will we know what it is?  And the reference doesn’t make it much better (OMB M-11-29).  So we know what Commodity IT maybe is but the USG definitely does not know how to deal with it or properly acquire it and this challenge only becomes more difficult as you approach the leading edge of innovation.
  • The remainder of the document focuses on implementation, timelines, Policy and Governance details.

Remember all of this supports the initial USG 25-Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management. Although I jest a bit with this review, the document is a good continuum of effort and push by the Federal CIO.  As noted Mr. Steven VanRoekel is only the second in the USG CIO position and there are large hurdles to vault before we can get the full USG into the advanced IT realm.

[via The White House]

Incoming search terms:

what is portfoliostat, portfoliostat

We’ve talked a bit more recently about Google’s Project Glass and its potential abuses but here is big G with another release but this time in the personal storage sector. There are plenty of different personal cloud solutions from Dropbox and Evernote to Microsoft’s Skydrive (you can get 25 GB total storage for free right now).  Google has decided to enter the ring and take on some of the more established entities.  With it’s massive user base, applications and email offerings it will be quite an impressive competitor.  I like the fact that they hint at revision control but what is more impressive is the extension of applications into the cloud.  As it stands they boast being able to “open over 30 file types right in your browser—including HD video, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop—even if you don’t have the program installed on your computer.”

google-drive

Bringing the capability to open file types that I don’t have software for is a significant accomplishment and one that not many other providers allow.

Right now it looks like Google Drive is in the slow-roll rollout phase (i.e. sign up for notification of availability).  We’ll see how it looks once we can play with it but until then back the the other kids on the block!

[via Google Drive]

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I was a 3rd Class Midshipman at Maine Maritime Academy when Vice Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski and John J. Garstka put together this Proceedings article.  I had walked on to an NROTC program, buckled down on my academics and earned a scholarship.    I remember reading it and thinking that it was a bit of a “flashback” vice forward looking.  But that was mostly because I had grown up with these items.  I’d had the Atari, the Commodore 64, and even a suitcase 286 loaned to me to “play” with.  But having experienced much of what is talked about in the paper I encourage another review of the document.  I’ve put together a few of the items that I find most important to where the Navy has come with the Information Dominance Corps, where it has fallen short, and where it can work to overtake it’s missteps.

Admiral Jay Johnson said it is “a fundamental shift from what we call platform-centric warfare to something we call network-centric warfare.” This was operationally shifted effectively, however the man, train, and equip entity remained focused on providing platform-centric leaders (Aviation, Surface, Submarines).  I would argue that since the start of this decade, warfare we exercise has always been technology-centric but from the days of recognizing network as an enabler for Naval missions it has shifted from the network-centric that Cebrowski described to  information-centricty and this centricity is only becoming more prominent and identifiable.

Vice Admiral (ret.) Arthur K. Cebrowski

Cebrowski’s three main themes still hold true with information-centricity:

  • The shift in focus from the platform to the network
  • The shift from viewing actors as independent to viewing them as part of a continuously adapting ecosystem
  • The importance of making strategic choices to adapt or even survive in such changing ecosystems
We’ve started to network everything (not well in some cases) but the information has become dominant.  The legacy platforms we still man-train-equip are becoming simple sensory platforms for the information-centricity in the global battlespace.
Intellectual Capital – Information-based processes are the dominant value-adding processes in both the commercial world and the military. Yet the military fails to reward competence in these areas. “Operator” status frequently is denied to personnel with these critical talents, but the value of traditional operators with limited acumen in these processes is falling, and ultimately they will be marginalized, especially at mid-grade and senior levels. The war fighter who does not understand the true source of his combat power in such things as CEC, Global Command and Control System, and Link-16 simply is worth less than those who do. The services must both mainstream and merge those with technical skills and those with operational experience in these areas. These are the new operators.”
I don’t think I could come up with a better summation for why there is a push for:
  • the Information Dominance Corps to become a URL (right or wrong for the long term good of the Navy);
  • better implementation of these systems to ensure the Human Computer Interaction (and understanding by the human) is so important;
  • the development of a significant core of technologists within the U.S. Navy;
  • the increase of this core in personnel number and improvement in ability.

Financial Capital – although the Navy made an effective transition into the network-centric era it has now allowed those networks to wane.  The sensors available to the U.S. Military are unable to reach the forces afloat as it would flood and exceed the capabilities of the supporting infrastructure.  While the corporate Navy looks for IT inefficiencies reduce costs the afloat forces require significant resources to bring them into the current generation of technology (again Big Navy and the U.S. Navy have always been technology-centric) in order to move the supporting information-centric element.

Transformation Process- The ponderous acquisition process remains; technology speed of advance has only increased.  I’ve heard more than 50 FO/GO and their equivalent civilian counterparts state this problem over the last 7 years and yet it continues to remain.  We own these rules – the U.S. Government and the Department of Defense.  Call it a Grand Challenge – we’ve seen the model that has worked for USSOCOM; make it the model for everything and move on.  We’ll find the issues with this new model and another, better model one will develop.

I want to ensure I’m not opposing an adversary in the future while worrying about a National Deficit in the $15 trillion realm.  I want this reduced, eliminated and operate at a surplus.

Let’s become the lender; Let’s return to be the global leader!

[via Proceedings]

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