Government declares success on much of federal IT reform

June 17, 2012

About a year and a half after the release of an extensive plan that promised to reform federal technology, the government says it has made much headway — but the Government Accountability Office says there’s plenty left to do.

“There has been a lot of good progress to date,” said David A. Powner, GAO’s director of information technology management issues. “What we don’t want to do is ... slow down.”

In late 2010, Vivek Kundra, federal chief information officer at the time, released a 25-point plan to reform IT, which focused on prioritizing cloud — or Web-based — computing, shuttering unneeded data centers and aggressively reviewing IT programs to ensure they stay on track.

The government adopted a cloud-first policy and pushed for federal agencies to shift their programs to the cloud. In a June 7 blog post, Steven VanRoekel, who took over from Kundra as federal CIO, said the administration has “jump-started the adoption of cloud computing, shifting agency mind-sets in the process.”

But in a late May report, the GAO said the government’s work is only partially done. While the agencies it reviewed had cloud migration plans in place, these plans “were missing key required elements” and “at this point there are no time frames for agencies to complete their migration plans.”

The federal government has also touted progress on a data center consolidation effort meant to close more than 1,000 by the end of 2015.

According to VanRoekel, the government had closed 267 data centers as of March and plans to have closed 429 by the end of 2012.

Still, the GAO has found that some agencies’ data center consolidation plans are incomplete, noting that updates are expected in September.

“Ultimately data center and cloud [are] about saving money,” Powner said. “Agencies weren’t laying out those details on cost.”

The GAO and the Office of Management and Budget agree that the government has successfully created a cadre of specialized IT acquisition officials. Over the past year, VanRoekel wrote, agencies have designated more than 1,000 IT program managers.

The two bodies also agree that the IT reform plan’s call for what’s known as TechStat reviews — meant to ensure IT programs stay on track — has been successfully completed. To date, agencies have held more than 300, according to OMB.

GAO noted in its review that as of December of last year, all 24 agencies had conducted at least one TechStat review.


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