Defining the Future of Government IT

Last week, GSA had the pleasure of hosting a roundtable in Washington, DC that brought together federal CIOs, CTOs, and thought leaders in technology from the public and private sectors. Together, they discussed the future of government IT, and how agencies should respond to shrinking budgets and increased expectations for workplace efficiency.

Owing to the growing disparity between shrinking budgets and the need for emerging technologies, agency CIOs are under increasing pressure to do more with less. This presents a significant challenge and a unique opportunity for GSA to bring agencies together to identify major IT challenges, share industry best practices, and develop innovative acquisition solutions to move government IT forward.

Mission-enhancing technologies

Participants at the roundtable identified the need for mission-enhancing technologies such as mobility, cloud, video, and agency-specific mobile applications to help agencies achieve improved workforce productivity. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has led the charge in defining a strategy for mobility and cloud through the 25-point IT reform plan, “cloud-first” policy, and Digital Government Strategy; however, strategies for both video and apps are still in their infancy.

These initiatives, combined with the current budget environment, have created a climate favorable to adopting mission-enhancing technologies. Implementation has encountered challenges, however, because resources are locked in legacy systems, and agencies frequently duplicate efforts to meet similar requirements. In fact, several CIOs at the roundtable reported a belief that infrastructure requirements are more common than dissimilar across agencies. Participants expressed interest in moving more basic requirements such as backbone networks to a service-based model.

In order to move government forward, agencies must find ways to shift their resources from legacy systems to emerging technologies, and deal with security and the consumerization of IT, while eliminating duplication by transitioning to government-wide shared services. The move to shared services will reduce costs by eliminating redundancy and leveraging the buying power of the federal government.

The industry participants are using IT as a strategic business asset to build competitive advantage through human resources, reduction in space/facilities, improving business processes, and enabling information sharing and mobility.

How GSA is stepping up to the plate

Roundtable participants frequently cited GSA as a key partner in helping to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency through programs like the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), which was launched last week. FedRAMP provides agencies with a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring by utilizing a “do once, use many” approach that simplifies the security approval process for cloud providers, thereby saving agencies precious time and money.

We have also helped agencies meet government-wide requirements through our Networx contract that has resulted in a savings of about $7.7 billion since 1999 as compared to commercial telecommunications prices.

Agencies are asking GSA to step up to the plate by leading the shift to mission-enhancing technologies. FedRAMP and Networx are two examples, but there is still work to be done. Government must continue working with agencies and industry to define requirements and develop IT acquisition solutions that enable agencies to get more for their mission. Meetings like last week’s roundtable help position GSA as a leader in driving that process.

Do you have an idea of how government can help eliminate duplication and leverage requirements? Post in the comments section below or follow us on Twitter @GSA_ITS to join the conversation.