Department of Transportation CIO Vicki Hildebrand isn’t ready to tap the Technology Modernization Fund just yet, but she isn’t waiting to start upgrading her agency’s IT, either.
Speaking at an event hosted by Foreign Affairs and ATARC Thursday, Hildebrand detailed her initiative to modernize DOT’s technology infrastructure with funding from reductions in duplicative IT programs across the agency.
“I don’t want any money. I don’t need any money,” she said. “We have a lot of spend out there. We need to spend more wisely.”
Hildebrand said the transformation plan, dubbed “Destinations Digital,” uses many of the same strategies currently being used by the Centers of Excellence working to modernize the Department of Agriculture, but done internally across what she called a series of BHAGs, or Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals.
“We have nine BHAGs that we are driving toward very hard across the agency,” she said. “At the top of all of this is FITARA to help us drive that.”
Hildebrand didn’t elaborate on what those goals are, but said by leveraging the 2014 IT acquisition law, DOT is developing department-wide strategies across its component agencies and is seeking to consolidate some back-end operations, such as help desks.
By funding the project internally, the CIO said that DOT has not yet entered itself in the slate of IT proposals being submitted for the newly committed Technology Modernization Fund.
Federal CIO Suzette Kent said last month that the TMF Board had selected four agencies to submit final proposals for funding, but didn’t say which agencies had made the cut.
Hildebrand added that while she is excited by the fund, the Destinations Digital project has the potential to identify enough funding to fuel its current IT modernization efforts.
“It will be a while be for I tap into it,” she said. “As I said, we have a lot of duplicative spend. And we don’t have a strategic resourcing program out there right now that we are working on. It’s literally because we grew up in a very federated model. Everyone was doing all of the right things, it’s just that they were working in their mode of transportation. As we bring that together, there’s a lot of opportunity to reinvest.”
Another avenue for funds could come from a shake-up in the agency’s acquisition of services, which — as a former Hewlett-Packard executive —Hildebrand said are a little steeper for government and could be potentially be lowered through more competition.
“I was rather surprised when I got here from the private sector that the government gets charged more than the private sector, and sometimes for services that aren’t quite as good,” she said. “So I’m challenging that.”