Federal IT spending may have seen a small boost under the fiscal year 2014 budget, but it hardly means agencies have extra cash to spare, a General Services Administration commissioner pointed out.
“While the FY14 budget nudges up IT spending slightly, a closer look shows many agencies actually face reduced or flat spending, yet missions continue to grow and demands continue to expand,” Mary Davie, assistant commissioner at GSA’s Office of Integrated Technology Services, wrote in a recent blog post.
This particular challenge, however, has not deterred GSA but rather inspired the agency, Davie wrote.
“It allows us to be creative, entrepreneurial and innovative,” she said. “But how do we succeed? How do we ensure budget constraints and pressure from sequestration are not missed opportunities?”
Davie noted how belt-tightening means government needs to find opportunities “to turn the game around.” A winning formula for smarter spending, for example, includes three features:
Agency deep dives: Agencies can frequently identify areas to enhance IT collaboration and system sharing, and “agency IT deep dive teams that explore cost-saving options and enhance enterprisewide cooperation make sense now more than ever,” Davie wrote.
GSA has also been able to eliminate redundancies when its IT personnel, budgets and systems were consolidated under the agency chief information officer. Additionally, the Great Ideas Hunt, launched internally as part of the agency’s top-to-bottom review, has so far resulted in $5 million savings.
Strategic sourcing: To further reduce costs, Davie said GSA needs to share and use contracts “where much of the acquisition effort and cost are already completed.” Current contracts are being modified to make it easier for customers to find and order services. In addition, an agile approach will help agencies adopt various technologies faster.
GSA IT Savings Report: Similarly to utility companies that send their customers reports on how to reduce costs, GSA wants to work with agencies to finds ways to save money and eliminate duplication “by leveraging our investment to set up contracts and acquisition vehicles, so you don’t have to,” Davie wrote.
“Our job is to help support you to focus on your missions while maintaining quality and reducing costs,” she added.
To help save the government $2.1 billion in federal IT costs every year, “[a]ll of us are going to have to rethink and re-imagine how we do things – together,” Davie concluded.