Technology and Government
Tech Industry Lauds OMB Plan for Improving Federal IT
The Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) framework for improving the way the government buys and implements Information Technology represents a clear breakthrough for TechAmerica Foundation’s Commission on the Government Technology Opportunity in the 21st Century (GTO-21), which recommended nearly identical strategies in its own October report.
These implementations could revolutionize federal technology with strong support from Congress, as TechAmerica has said to the leadership of the House Government Oversight and Reform Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees.
A complete copy of the letters are available via the following links:
OMB’s six-month time frame shows that they are serious about setting a prudent, common-sense course for improving federal technology. To make this happen, Congress, the Administration and industry all have business to tend to – starting right now.
A complete copy of the Commission’s report is available at http://www.techamericafoundation.org/gto21
The Office of Management and Budget’s Framework for Improving Federal IT
The framework closely mirrors the Commission’s own report by recognizing essentially the same set of long-understood objectives for reform of technology procurement and management and by focusing on ways to remove obstacles to achieving those objectives. It is a very aggressive, common-sense strategy meant to be executed in just six months. A detailed companion plan is slated for release Dec. 14.
The framework as explained to Commission members and their staff follows along with quotes in italics from the GTO-21 report that show how close the Administration and Commission’s views on the subject parallel each other.
When implementing large-scale programs, the U.S. government should move to a modular approach.
While not a panacea for IT acquisition, the iterative, incremental and collaborative processes of agile development will significantly raise the Government’s return on its IT investment.
Specifically, acquisition and management of large IT programs will be improved by employing the following strategies.
I. Align budget and procurement cycles with technology cycles through Congressional authorization for all agencies of a multi-year, portfolio budget approach such as that employed by the Veterans Administration.
The agile IT acquisition approach defined by OMB must be matched by a budgeting process that is similarly agile…Congress is reluctant to allow funding to be programmed without specifying particular accounts because that could hinder its oversight function.
II. Create a cadre of IT acquisitions and management professionals with $158 million in training funds for FY 2011 and having the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) create an official IT program management career track.
Having qualified, experienced and dedicated government staff in the Program Management Office is the single most important ingredient for success…The government should build upon the 2210 job code for program managers within the IT category to establish a career track that established financial and career advancement incentives for mastery-level government program managers.
III. Require an integrated project team to include a program manager, contracts officer, attorney, etc. as a condition of project funding and align incentives between those functions.
While the capability of the program manager is essential to program success, it is also important that he or she is surrounded by a team of dedicated, experienced professionals in their respective functional areas.
IV. Increase FAR-compliant communication between government and industry with an intra-government education campaign.
A targeted campaign within the federal government to dispel myths, state rules and encourage FAR-compliant communication can change the risk-adverse culture to one of empowering acquisition professionals.
V. Streamline inter-agency governance to reduce redundant reporting requirements by employing the Tech Stat approach currently used by OMB.
Rather than being “bolted on” to the project in multiple, disjointed layers, representatives from all compliance organizations responsible for a given project should be unified into a single compliance board.
When acquiring commodity technologies, agencies will be directed to adopt a “cloud-first” approach. If there is a secure, cloud solution, one cannot be custom-developed. This approach will be driven by Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) and support a reduction of government data centers of 40 percent by 2015
The OMB funding process also needs to incorporate a funding approach that pressures agencies to follow strategies…using COTS or application development strategies using shorter term increments.
Download the Report
*Please note due to size of file, the document may take longer than normal to download.
Contact: A.R. “Trey” Hodgkins, III, CAE
Staff Director-Commission on Government Technology Opportunity for the 21st Century