Obama budget halts IT growth, cuts data centers
White House wants broad adoption of cloud computing, social platforms in $80B plan
Computerworld - WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's 2011 budget proposal, released Monday, flattens federal IT spending and orders federal departments to consolidate and centralize IT operations.
This budget is unsparing in its criticisms and says federal IT departments have a history of not delivering productivity and performance gains "that are found when IT is deployed effectively in the private sector."
This budget outlines Obama's goal of creating an IT operation infused with private sector best practices, as well as enabling citizens to easily access government data and interact with federal agencies in new ways. The White House also wants social networking tools widely deployed to help make government, through continuous collaboration, smarter.
"The rise in social media and web 2.0 technologies has proven that no single organization has a monopoly on good ideas," said the budget narrative.
And the Obama administration wants to head in this direction without spending new money on IT.
The 2011 proposed federal budget proposal by the White House increases federal IT spending to $79.4 billion, just over 1.2% and slightly above the White House's inflation forecast for this year. In 2001, the U.S. spent $45 billion on IT. The federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
To cut costs, the White House will seek a reduction in the number of data centers, now at 1,100. It does not set a goal but points out that in 1998 there were only 432 data centers serving federal agencies.
It also wants to centralize the delivery of some IT services across agencies through the use of cloud technologies and other platforms. The trick for federal CIOs will be to consolidate, centralize and increase their use of technologies such as virtualization, without spending new money.
"There won't be a lot of wiggle room for new technologies," said Deniece Peterson, manager of industry analysis at government market research firm Input Inc., who said that 70% of the money spent on IT now is just "to keep the lights on," meaning, running operations.
Peterson said IT managers will likely start small but may also face more pressure from this White House for results than from previous administrations.
The Obama administration appointed the first federal CIO and one who is "aggressive in pushing the agenda," Peterson said. Last year, Obama appointed Vivek Kundra, former CTO of the District of Columbia, as the federal CIO.
Even before this budget, the White House has come up with a means to shine a spotlight on the performance of federal IT department. It created an "IT dashboard" that rates IT projects and their performance at various agencies.
The reason for this Scarlett Letter-like attention, Peterson said, is that an IT failure at a private company could put a firm out of business, but "the ramifications of failure are not as pronounced in government," hence the approach is "is kind of embarrassing agencies to perform."
If agencies can't increase spending easily, some IT vendors may be under pressure to cut their costs as well. Other vendors may see new opportunity to sell product.
Ken Powell, president of North American Operations at Micro Focus Ltd., said he is hopeful that the government's direction will expand interest in his products that enable users to migrate mainframe applications to other platforms to reduce costs. "In our economic climate and there is one thing that you have to focus on it's not saving costs, its' avoiding cost," he said.
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed .
Obama and tech
- China set to surpass U.S. in R&D spending in 10 years
- Outgoing federal CIO warns of 'an IT cartel'
- @whitehouse takes on Twitter Town Hall
- Obama's CIO quits
- Little new in Obama cybersecurity proposal
- Feds update IT plan following Obama's 'horrible' comment
- Obama's online trusted ID plan greeted with caution
- U.S. Census tech makeover includes 'oasis' for innovation
- Obama seeks big boost in cybersecurity spending
- QuickPoll: Is Obama's 98% 4G broadband coverage goal realistic?
Read more about Government IT in Computerworld's Government IT Topic Center.
This pilot fish is a contractor at a military base, working on some very cool fire-control systems for tanks. But when he spots something obviously wrong during a live-fire test, he can't get the firing-range commander's attention.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Reduce federal infrastructure risk with compliance management and situational awareness
- IBM continuous monitoring and management solutions deliver real-time situational awareness to help federal agencies understand vulnerabilities, and protect the infrastructure.
- Comprehensive Advanced Threat Defense
- The hot topic in the information security industry these days is "Advanced Threat Defense" (ATD). This paper describes a comprehensive, network-based approach to...
- Advanced Threat Defense: A Comprehensive Approach
- In this interview, Peter George, president, General Dynamics Fidelis Cybersecurity Solutions, explains why we need more than anti-malware, and what constitutes a comprehensive...
- Market Overview: Digital Customer Experience Delivery Platforms
- Forrester states that businesses today struggle to understand and use the tools necessary to create and manage unified, multichannel digital customer experiences across...
- The Growing Demand for Rich Media
- This white paper discusses how IBM Customer Experience Suite Rich Media Edition can automate rich media workflows, from collaborating with creative agencies and... All Government IT White Papers
- On-demand webinar - 7 Keys to Service Catalog Implementation Success Watch this webinar to learn 7 crucial keys to make your service catalog a success!
- Transform Your IT Service Management Watch this webinar, to learn how EasyVista can increase IT productivity & efficiency and deliver streamlined & integrated IT Service & Asset Mgmt.
- IBM FlashSystem V840: Leveraging Software-Defined Flash to Drive Your Business With end-to-end, tightly integrated functionality and super-fast flash technology, products like IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution empower businesses to leverage the efficiency...
- Leveraging Flash Storage to Accelerate Oracle Real Application Clusters Join this webinar to understand the latest solid-state storage trends, the specific applications driving solid-state storage deployments and the benefits of deploying the...
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- All Government IT Webcasts