I remember hearing Oracle’s President and Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz speak a few years ago at a conference I was able to attend. If you’re not familiar with her she happens to be one of the highest, if not the highest, compensated women in the world. Aside from that fact she works for the co-founder of Oracle Larry Ellison; it in itself not an easy task she noted. What struck me immediately in her description of operations at Oracle was the “independent operations” that each geographically separated division of the company was doing. Having arrived in 1999 at Oracle she noted that it was effectively divisional chaos; divisions doing similar non-coordinated things all over with little contribution toward building upon the large corporate strategy. Larry had brought Safra on at Oracle to fix this massive problem.
As I listened I couldn’t help but feel that this issue having been recognized at Oracle in the early part of the last decade had not been faced or embraced within the U.S. Government. I could only identify a few examples in our Military and even less withing the U.S. Navy. But this was during the time when taxpayer money flowed at a much faster and less scrutinized rate than that of 2012. With this context I’m ecstatic to see the release of the Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People by the U.S. Chief Information Officer (CIO).
Immediately in the introduction the US-CIO identifies the major issue the USG traditionally struggles with:
Early mobile adopters in government—like the early web adopters—are beginning to experiment in pursuit of innovation Some have created products that leverage the unique capabilities of mobile devices. Others have launched programs and strategies and brought personal devices into the workplace. Absent coordination, however, the work is being done in isolated, programmatic silos within agencies.
The Digital Strategy Objectives:
- Enable the American people and an increasingly mobile workforce to access high-quality digital government information and services anywhere, anytime, on any device.
- Ensure that as the government adjusts to this new digital world, we seize the opportunity to procure and manage devices, applications, and data in smart, secure and affordable ways.
- Unlock the power of government data to spur innovation across our Nation and improve the quality of services for the American people.
The technologists have finally taken hold within the USG. The Digital Strategy Principles are based on:
- An “Information-Centric” approach—Moves us from managing “documents” to managing discrete pieces of open data and content17 which can be tagged, shared, secured, mashed up and presented in the way that is most useful for the consumer of that information.
- A “Shared Platform” approach—Helps us work together, both within and across agencies, to reduce costs, streamline development, apply consistent standards, and ensure consistency in how we create and deliver information.
- A “Customer-Centric” approach—Influences how we create, manage, and present data through websites, mobile applications, raw data sets, and other modes of delivery, and allows customers to shape, share and consume information, whenever and however they want it.
- A platform of “Security and Privacy”—Ensures this innovation happens in a way that ensures the safe and secure delivery and use of digital services to protect information and privacy.
The remainder of the document puts forth the more detailed aspect of each of these objective and how the principles should be implemented. It should open the eyes of the digital immigrants within the USG. With any new strategy this will take time for the USG as a whole to migrate toward. I simply wish that this would have received this amount of attention and backing when the USG could have avoided these extreme budget conditions. Imagine if this would have been released in 2008; the USG would be in a lot better condition both in the realm of information and fiscal effectiveness. The technology was there then… apparently we had our priorities a bit misaligned.
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The new U.S. CIO, Steven VanRoekel, has updated the initial 25 point plan that was released in 2010 by the first U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra.
Some of the main challenges have been:
- IT Reform #5 – Stand-up contract vehicles for Commodity IT services
- IT Reform #17 – Work with Congress to create IT budget models that align with modular development
- IT Reform #20 – Work with Congress to consolidate Commodity IT spending under Agency CIO
- 2. Create a government-wide marketplace for data center availability
- 8. Scale IT program management career path
- 12. Enable IT program manager mobility across government and industry
- 16. Reduce barriers to entry for small innovative technology companies
- 23. Rollout “TechStat” model at the bureau level
Pretty nice to have a 25 point plan to walk into the job with and review then work on the remainders while you formulate the next goals.
There is also discussion on the launch of FedRAMP. The goals of which are to:
- Accelerate the adoption of secure cloud solutions through reuse of assessments and authorizations
- Increase confidence in security of cloud solutions
- Achieve consistent security authorizations using a baseline set of agreed upon standards to be used for Cloud product approval in or outside of FedRAMP
- Ensure consistent application of existing security practices
- Increase confidence in security assessments
- Increase automation and near real-time data for continuous monitoring