Our Guiding Principles – Open, Innovative and Intuitive solutions

Information Technology plays a central role in supporting GSA’s mission to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people. At GSA, technologies and techniques such as Cloud Computing, Mobility, Agile Development, Open Source, Open Data and User Experience (UX) create the foundation for modern information technology (IT) solutions that empower GSA employees to better connect, collaborate and serve our customers, citizens and agency partners.

Cloud Computing diagram of laptops, tablets, mobile device connecting in the cloud

Cloud First is one of GSA’s Key IT Principles

As the GSA CIO, my vision is to serve GSA, the federal government and the American people through Innovative, Integrated, and Intuitive (I3) technology solutions. In order to ensure that we leverage such foundational practices consistently, I recently signed a new IT integration policy that requires that all new projects undertaken within GSA to build or enhance IT solutions incorporate several Key IT Principles outlined here. Following these Key IT Principles will ensure that the systems we build are open, modern, innovative, allow reuse, and intuitive to use. These principles will guide us as we continue to modernize our organization, processes, technologies and platforms at GSA. This policy will evolve with time as we adopt new paradigms and evolve our capabilities as an organization. I encourage your ideas and feedback to help us continue to evolve and refine this policy and our Key IT Principles.

Key IT Principles:

Platform Reuse First: Over the past few years, GSA IT has made several strategic investment in common application and infrastructure platforms that allow for rapid deployment, reuse of resources, and cost effective delivery of business services. These platforms are constantly being evolved, supported and reviewed to ensure that GSA’s core infrastructure and application platforms continue to deliver value to the organization. Leveraging these platforms through reuse of common components and technologies not only reduces IT costs and complexity, it also reduces the burden on GSA’s end users by reducing the number of disparate applications and tools they need to learn and access.

In order to ensure that GSA continues to leverage these platform investments, and continues to reduce cost and complexity in our IT portfolio, this policy requires that all new IT requirements consider the reuse of GSA’s existing platforms before any new investments are contemplated. If an existing platform can be scaled, configured or otherwise extended to meet the business needs, it will be the preferred mechanism to satisfy GSA’s business requirements. Legacy applications and tools shall be evaluated constantly to identify opportunities to consolidate them into GSA’s modern platforms. For example, legacy applications that may be migrated to shared application stacks, or hosting agreements that can be retired by migrating servers to GSA’s enterprise data centers.

Open Source First: Simply put, any solution developed using taxpayer dollars should be in the taxpayer’s domain (open source). At GSA, we believe that all code we developed should be shared under an open license so others may benefit from it. In addition, we will give priority to using open source software as we design now solutions

Cloud First: GSA has been a strong and early adopter of Cloud computing, and has realized significant cost savings and improved business solutions through the use of Cloud services. Moving forward, leveraging cloud services will be the default approach to designing all new IT solutions.

Open, Shared Data: All new solutions must be designed from the ground up to make data available and shareable within GSA, as well as with the public where appropriate. GSA has established the “Enterprise Information and Data Management (EIDM) team”, led by our Agency’s first Chief Data Officer. This team will be integrated with project teams across GSA to ensure effective data design, management and sharing principles are being followed consistently, and data is leveraged as an enterprise Asset within GSA.

Single/Seamless Sign-on: By integrating all solutions with our enterprise Identity and Access Management (I&AM) solutions, we will not only reduce the burden of multiple passwords on our employees, but will also increase security of our data and systems and increase compliance with federal IT policies and best practices.

Digital Services Improvements: The Digital Services Principle urges us to take the necessary steps to enhance user experience within our public web sites, systems and tools. We will follow the requirements and best practices championed by GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) on digitalgov.gov and current laws, policies, and regulations to standardize and improve all of our online services.

Records Management: As part of developing new IT solutions, we will pay specific attention to any records management implications, and ensure that we follow all relevant laws, policies and guidelines to ensure that trust is maintained in the retention and management of electronic records.

Cyber Security: As the landscape of cyber security threats and risks evolve, we want to ensure that cyber security is designed into our solutions from the beginning, rather than being overlaid as an after-thought. This principle will require that the GSA Office of the Chief Information Security Officer acts as a consultant and partner throughout the project life cycle, rather than being viewed as a compliance step towards the end of the project. Through this approach, we will increase the overall cybersecurity posture of our information systems, while designing them to be flexible in meeting future challenges.

Effective Vendor/Partner Engagement: Building and maintaining effective, strategic relationships with our industry partners is crucial to our success. Cloud acquisitions, modular development and performance based acquisitions require innovative strategies throughout the project life cycle. We have established an “IT Vendor Management” office within GSA’s Office of the CIO, which will be a strong partner and ally to the project team as well as GSA’s acquisition workforce throughout each project’s life cycle. This office will ensure that any products and services we acquire are done so in a thoughtful, innovative and strategic manner to achieve the best value for the American people and ensuring mission success.

GSA strives to develop solutions that work not just for our agency, but offer value across the federal government. Whether it’s Cloud adoption, enabling mobility, modern acquisition platforms, Smart Building Technologies, or reducing the federal real estate footprint through modern workplaces, we are proud to set a leading example and to serve our customer Agencies through our experience – Our Key IT Principles will help us continue our evolution into a modern, 21st century Information Technology Organization.