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DoD official: Federal IT needs less regulation, more innovation

Dec. 4, 2013 - 06:02PM   |  
By NICOLE BLAKE JOHNSON   |   Comments
Government Mobility Conference
Paul Brubaker, the Pentagon's director of planning and performance management, speaks at the Government IT Forum Dec. 3 in Washington, D.C. (Colin Kelly/Staff)

The government is struggling to create an environment in which agencies can readily adopt innovative business models, such as cloud computing and mobility, without being overburdened by bureaucracy.

Young and nimble agencies like the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board are often highlighted as success stories of what’s possible when agencies aren’t bogged down by regulations and are free to innovate. Recovery.gov, for example, was one of the first governmentwide systems to move to the cloud.

But too often, regulation and policy constipate the system, and it becomes hard to figure out who can make decisions and how to get work done, said Paul Brubaker, the Pentagon’s director of planning and performance management, during an information technology conference Tuesday in Washington.

“We’re running out here and saying we shall do cloud first, [but] how is FedRAMP working?” Brubaker said, referring to hundreds of security requirements that cloud computing vendors must meet to do business with the government. To date, few companies have met the rigorous standards, which will be mandatory come June.

While security and protection of government data are valid concerns, “do we over-regulate?” he said. “Do we over bureaucratize? Do we overcomplicate these movements to new platforms because that’s what we’re used to doing.”

Brubaker went on to say “we’ve got big bulging muscles that we exercise all the time to produce regulation and produce policy, but that little innovation muscle ... we don’t exercise that very well.

One reason: “You cannot have a zero-trust environment where failure is not an option and expect innovation,” he said. The government’s problem is “when we fail, we fail huge.”

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