Science and technology are driving efficiency to new heights. Now government needs to climb on board.
“It is imperative for the federal government to leverage these innovations to provide better service for its citizens in the most cost-effective and secure manner,” according to a draft report released this week by the White House’s American Technology Council and Office of American Innovation.
The Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization paints a picture of the present and ideal future state of federal IT, offering specific recommendations to “jumpstart a new wave of modernization efforts.”
Drawing on input from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the General Services Administration (GSA), the authors organize their report into two categories: The modernization and consolidation of networks, and the use of shared services to enable future network architectures.
Under network modernization, the report envisions a federal IT structure in which agencies “maximize secure use of cloud computing, modernize government-hosted applications, and securely maintain legacy systems.”
The authors encourage agencies to move away from protecting the network perimeter and managing legacy deployments, and to shift instead toward protection of federal data and cloud-optimized deployments.
Agencies are urged to prioritize their high-risk, high value assets, to enhance security and privacy controls for those systems that are more essential and where security is most vulnerable. Government also needs to modernize the Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) and National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS) Program to enable cloud migration.
Agencies also need to consolidate and standardize their network acquisition efforts to leverage economies of scale while minimizing duplicative investments.
In the realm of shared services, the report offers further specific recommendations. Contracting vehicles should make it easier for agencies to buy commercial cloud products. Agencies should speed the adoption of cloud email and collaboration tools. There should be centralized, shared capabilities in place to replace or augment existing agency-specific technology.
Even as agencies move forward on these various agenda items, they need to pull back in other areas.
Specifically, the report calls for agencies to consider “immediately pausing or halting upcoming procurement actions that further develop or enhance legacy IT systems identified that need modernization.”
Rather than continue spending on legacy systems that may be due for an overhaul, agencies should instead “emphasize reprioritizing funds,” with a focus on strategies that “reallocate funding from obsolete legacy IT systems to modern technologies, cloud solutions, and shared services, using agile development practices where appropriate.”
The report is open for public comment until Sept. 20.