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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 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]

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