While the IC’s research organization looks into adding security to cloud environments, in the here and now, intelligence agencies are sharing more data.
Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel released a pair of strategies for critical IT areas in May. The strategies for shared services and mobile computing offer plenty of promise for improving IT operations and saving money, but they both have a long way to go to get there.
Getting the strategies to yield the rewards they promise will take hard work and strong leadership. But in addition to significant benefits, success with these efforts could also provide a roadmap for success in other important IT areas.
First, VanRoekel released the Federal IT Shared Services Strategy, which requires agencies to use a shared approach to IT service delivery. It is intended to improve return on investment in the federal IT portfolio, close productivity gaps and increase communications with stakeholders.
The document defines a shared service as an IT function provided for consumption by multiple organizations within or among federal agencies. The strategy identifies three categories of IT for shared services: commodity, support and mission.
VanRoekel later released the strategy on mobile computing, titled “Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People.” The document sets out three high-level objectives: to enable access to high-quality digital government information and services anywhere, at any time, on any device; to procure and manage devices, applications and data in smart, secure and affordable ways; and to unlock the power of government data to spur innovation and improve the quality of government services.
It’s useful to examine the shared services strategy and the mobile computing strategy by rating them on criteria I consider assessment keys:
I consider the mobility strategy to be better positioned for implementation than the shared services strategy, but both documents include multiple areas that need improvement.
The shared services strategy certainly addresses a high-priority area: managing costs and improving services and security. However, the plan has several flaws:
I rated the mobility strategy more highly against the assessment keys. In addition to addressing a high-priority challenge area, the mobility strategy has objectives that are more clear, focused and measurable. Its action plans are more comprehensive and can be linked back to its objectives, providing a better basis for measuring progress. CIOs are better positioned to lead the strategy’s implementation.
But I found the mobility strategy less than complete in several areas. While many of its benefits may be considered self-evident, the strategy does not define explicit economic benefits. And like the shared services strategy, the link to the budget is not clear, and the timing of the initiative is a concern.
Despite shortcomings in these strategies, progress can be made by implementing each, putting the government closer to realizing benefits. But this will require steadfast and determined leadership by the Office of Management and Budget and federal CIOs. These are important IT reform areas, and IT leaders should continue to push hard to implement change.