Thursday, July 26, 2012

Federal CIO outlines shared services strategy

Federal CIO outlines shared services strategy

by Joseph Marks,
December 9th 2011

Agencies must create a plan to move at least two agency-specific information technology services to shared interagency platforms by the end of 2012, according to the draft version of federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel's shared services strategy released Friday.

The draft strategy also requires agency IT leaders to create plans for how and where they can convert to shared services during the next year and directs them to shift "the 'default setting' for IT investment decisions from the development of new components to the utilization of existing resources."

That means new IT projects should be built with standardized architectures so they can be easily converted to process work across different agencies. That also will help the government better integrate new technology into shared IT systems rather than agency-specific ones, according to the strategy document.

"As it stands, agency IT investments are so highly specialized and difficult to integrate with one another that it is often less expensive to acquire a new proprietary system than to share existing systems," the draft plan said.

The government has more than 200 planning and budgeting IT systems, the strategy said, plus more than 275 human resources systems and more than 300 financial management systems.

The shared services strategy aims to consolidate services within agency divisions and then broaden out in what it calls a "crawl, walk, run approach."

The draft strategy is open for public comment now. A final version will be published in April.

The shared services strategy is the first of a series of planned initiatives under VanRoekel's Future First campaign, which he outlined in a speech to industry leaders in October.

The strategy builds on the 25-Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT, published by VanRoekel's predecessor, Vivek Kundra, in December 2010. That document focused on scoping federal IT projects so they aren't outpaced by new technology and adopting private sector innovations such as cloud computer storage that cost less and help the government operate more efficiently.

The standardization required by cloud storage also will help agencies adopt more shared services within government, according to VanRoekel's strategy.

There are a number of barriers to rolling out shared services, the strategy said, including budgetary restrictions enacted by Congress.

The 25-point plan calls on the Office of Management and Budget to work with Congress to give IT managers more budgeting flexibility. VanRoekel's office is making progress on that front, the federal CIO said during a conference call with reporters Thursday.

OMB will lead a series of agency information sessions on the shared services strategy beginning in 2012, the document said.

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