The administration's IT agenda centers on three core objectives: driving value in IT investments, protecting federal assets and information and delivering "world-class" digital services.
Resource: Full Budget Coverage
The budget proposal – a 2.7 percent increase in IT spending over 2015 – includes significant investments in programs that focus on these missions.
- $450 million for IT oversight and reform, including funding to improve use of PortfolioStat for tracking IT projects.
- $105 million to create U.S. Digital Service teams at 25 agencies to help with citizen services.
- $14 billion for cybersecurity, including the continued rollout of the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program.
- $84 million for the Defense Department's Joint Information Enterprise to integrate the military's IT services.
The budget looks to outline a future where agencies provide better citizen services for less, using strategic sourcing, open source options, shared services and concrete benchmarks.
Civilian spending targets efficiency
The president's management agenda for 2016 puts a significant focus on tracking IT spending through the PortfolioStat program and includes funding to capitalize on the launch of public-facing dashboards this year.
Accompanying budget documents show an $11 million investment in PortfolioStat has resulted in $2.7 billion in savings over three years by focusing agencies on programs that work and provide timely deliverables.
The program, designed to keep agencies on track while developing IT projects, is a centerpiece of the administration's overall strategy to deliver services faster by using best practices from the private sector, like agile development and cloud computing.
To bolster this shift in thinking, the administration has brought in heavy-hitters from some of the biggest names in IT.
The new Federal CIO, Tony Scott, came most recently from VMware, a company with deep ties in the federal sphere that provides the core stack that most agency IT systems run on.
The nation's other top technologist, Federal CTO Megan Smith, is a former Google executive who believes government can be as fast and agile as the private sector.
"We're the country that built Amazon, we built Facebook, we built Twitter – we built these incredible things. So shouldn't our websites and our mobile sites be that great?" Smith said during an ACT-IAC event recognizing innovation in government.
"We have crazy IT spending going on," she said. "We need to get control over that. The best way to do that is start to have innovative technical people there who can help with architecting and thinking about that."
The budget includes $450 million in funding for oversight programs, as well as $105 million to "scale and institutionalize" the U.S. Digital Service to agencies outside OMB.
The administration is looking to hire some 500 IT professionals to create Digital Service teams at 25 major agencies that will work to improve high impact, citizen-facing programs.
How these new teams will interact within the existing CIO and CTO structures has yet to be worked out and will have to be considered on a case-by-case basis, according to Mikey Dickerson, USDS administrator.
The OMB USDS would take on a new role as the lead digital service, helping to build out the new teams at other agencies and tracking IT spending and procurement to increase oversight and improve efficiencies.
"The world evolves and so we as government need to keep iterating and staying ahead," Smith said.
The proposal also budgets $14 billion for cybersecurity – a 40 percent increase over 2015.
Much of that funding is allocated for the CDM program, intended to bring real-time network monitoring to all civilian agencies. The second set of task orders for the first phase of CDM are expect to drop late spring, early summer.
"A significant portion of that [$14 billion] goes to securing networks across the federal government," Deputy Federal CIO Lisa Schlosser said after the budget was released. That includes CDM, as well as private sector outreach and scaling the NIST Cybersecurity Framework across government and industry.
"And of course we have to continue to invest in investigating national security and cyber threats," Schlosser added. "So there's a significant portion of the budget that's going to the Department of Justice to investigate public and private intrusions."
While the budget includes these civilian programs, the majority of cybersecurity funding is found on the defense side of the budget, Schlosser said.
Defense prioritizes future
Defense Department priorities include a number of tech-focused initiatives within the $585 billion budget that officials hope will mold a networked, cutting-edge future military.
The ongoing move to enterprise-wide IT services got a boost, with the Pentagon's leading enterprise IT effort receiving more than a six-fold increase in spending. The increase underscores a DoD-wide push to streamline using IT, and to centralize IT operations that extend to end users scattered throughout the Pentagon's areas of responsibility.
Funding for the Joint Information Enterprise under the Defense Information Systems Agency's budget grew from $13.3 million in 2015 to $84 million in 2016, part of DISA's nearly quadrupled procurement budget of $1 billion. DISA is leading the DoD-wide move to JIE, the Pentagon's all-encompassing initiative for consolidating and integrating military IT and the flagship of DoD's new IT strategy.
As DoD pushes ahead with JIE, as well as enterprise IT services and IT infrastructure upgrades, some legacy efforts saw significant funding decreases, including DISA's net-centric enterprise services program, which fell from $3.7 million last year to a mere $444,000 in 2016.
The emphasis on technological superiority is the centerpiece for efforts like the Defense Innovation Initiative, announced late last year in pursuit of "breakthrough technologies and new concepts of operations to enhance the U.S. military's dominance," according to the documents.
Elsewhere in the budget, investment in advanced technologies underscores the tech-dominance theme with more than $11.5 billion toward basic and applied research and advanced technology development, including $3 billion for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In another example, the budget's Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative provides $26.4 billion to accelerate modernization of DoD systems, and also provides resources for manned and unmanned aircraft, ground vehicles and communications systems.
In the Air Force alone, $1.7 billion is directed toward space procurement and nearly $2 billion is allocated for electronics and telecommunications procurement.
Across DoD, the budget accounts for some $37.3 billion in IT spending, an increase of $1 billion over 2015. Investment in military manufacturing science and technology jumped from $90 million last year to $157 million in 2016 as Pentagon officials seek emerging manufacturing capabilities and other advanced technologies that more closely align with fast-evolving commercial offerings.
Aaron Boyd is an awarding-winning journalist currently serving as editor of Federal Times — a Washington, D.C. institution covering federal workforce and contracting for more than 50 years — and Fifth Domain — a news and information hub focused on cybersecurity and cyberwar from a civilian, military and international perspective.