VanRoekel: Agencies Need to ‘Cut and Invest’

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Federal agencies will need to take a “cut and invest” strategy when it comes to innovation as tightening federal budgets will make it increasingly more difficult to find money for new projects, Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel said.

Speaking Tuesday at the Federal Office Systems Expo, VanRoekel said it will be up to agencies to decrease or eliminate funding for older projects using programs like “Shared First” and the federal government’s data center consolidation initiative to fund new technology projects.

“In government we don’t have a culture of take from the old and give to the new,” VanRoekel said.

The speech echoed VanRoekel’s key points since the release of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget that – for the third straight year – saw funding for information technology remain flat and fall significantly in regards to inflation.

VanRoekel hit on those topics again, saying that while the budgets have remained flat, the government has done a wonderful job of innovating. He pointed to things like the Department of Agriculture consolidating its 21 email systems into one and the Department of Defense saving more than $300 million in data center consolidation.

“We need to think about government as a platform” for delivering better digital services to citizens,” VanRoekel said. “We need to drive this maniacally inside agencies to streamline this stuff, to create that investment capital for us to continue to innovate.”

VanRoekel said that the government needs to create a culture of innovation that will be pushed by the consumerization of all technology as well as greater expectations from the government’s own workforce.

He said decision makers must think more vertically than horizontally, not look at solutions to individual problems, but how to solve the problem for multiple subscribers and business users.

VanRoekel’s goals for the future of government technology include:

  • deliver functionality as a government;
  • take a holistic approach to delivering mobile solutions, providing data and content by building and managing digital services and delivering them online, to mobile or via web services;
  • provide a government as a platform framework by take a data-centric approach to architect for openness, interoperability and shared first;
  • engage citizens and private sector to join as partners in delivering better digital government services

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Steven VanRoekel
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