Federal IT efforts slowed by weak CIO roles and uneven reporting
CIO - Though the federal government has made considerable strides in streamlining and modernizing its $80 billion IT operation, those efforts have been slowed by loose reporting about failing investments and weak CIO authorities across the agencies, a panel of senior officials told members of a House subcommittee on Thursday.
David Powner, director of IT management issues with the Government Accountability Office, allowed that the Obama administration's tech team has put some "excellent initiatives in place," but that their implementation has been slowed by a "poor track record" on large-scale IT projects, while agencies have been erratic in their self-reporting obligations.
Powner referred to the government's ambitious data-center consolidation effort, which at one point operated under an estimate of roughly 3,100 data centers maintained by the various agencies. In the time since, that figure has swelled to more than 6,000, and again, after another review, to around 7,100.
"There are some fundamental questions whether the government really knows what it has, and why there isn't better transparency here," he tells the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Government Operations Subcommittee.
Similarly, the Department of Defense, which accounts for a little more than 40 percent of the federal IT budget, has not designated a single IT project on an online dashboard that tracks technology expenditures as red, indicating that the project is in danger of failing.
GAO has recently cited agencies for failing to conduct review sessions, known as TechStats, to evaluate the majority of medium- and high- risk investments, finding that among the agencies it evaluated, just 33 percent of at-risk projects had been put through the TechStat evaluation.
U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel was on hand to defend the administration's efforts, and, on the issue of ballooning data-center counts -- a cause of alarm for many lawmakers at the hearing -- he contended that much of the shift can be attributed to a change in the definition of "data center" that he put in place. The initial definition only considered facilities 500 square feet or larger, a designation that has since been discarded "to be more comprehensive and drive better inventory," VanRoekel says.
Office of Management and Budget Dives Deeper Into Reporting and CIO Authorities
Regarding the erratic reporting, headlined by the Defense Department, VanRoekel says that his team at the Office of Management and Budget is looking beyond the data the Pentagon posts on the dashboard, and instead taking a deeper look at issues like budget overages, delays and changing scopes to identify projects that might be at risk.
"It's a fool's errand to track self-reporting," he says.
"The second part of it is CIO authorities. And I think looking at the authority of the CIO, the person whose picture is next to all those investments is (DoD CIO) Teri Takai. Teri Takai has very little influence over most of the investments that you're looking at on that dashboard," he adds.
This state transportation department uses computer science students from a local university as programming interns, and everyone is happy with the arrangement -- until one intern learns how to bring down the mainframe.
- 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.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools
- The client management tool market is maturing and evolving to adapt to consumerization, desktop virtualization, and an ongoing need to improve efficiency.
- Audit Ready and Asset Optimized: The Solid Promise of an Intelligent Software Asset Management Solution
- In this paper Frost & Sullivan examines the benefits of enterprise-grade Software Asset Management solutions, and how these solutions serve as the convergence...
- Pragmatic Endpoint Management: Empowering an SMB Workforce in the Age of Mobility
- Lacking the time for proper training and education, SMB administrators often resort to taking shortcuts to keep their environment running.This paper discusses the...
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Security
- The market for application security testing is changing rapidly. Technology trends, such as mobile applications, advanced Web applications and dynamic languages, are forcing... All Government IT White Papers
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the...
- Endpoint Data Management: Protecting the Perimeter of the Internet of Things Not surprisingly, "Internet of Things" (IoT) and Big Data present new challenges AND opportunities for enterprise IT. Teams need to harness, secure and...
- How to Protect Enterprise Data Yet Enable Secure Access for End Users Learn how BYOD, Big Data and the use of rogue applications and devices is putting corporate data at risk, best practices from IT...
- All Government IT Webcasts