Continuance of the Obama administration means the IT and IT acquisition policies of the past four years won’t get uprooted and re-branded. That gives the CIO community time to push a few things over the line. Here are my choices for the agenda for the next four years.
Get cloud computing past first base. It’s time to finish up the FedRAMP process. Then agencies can much more quickly pick a medium-security cloud provider. This project is overdue. But much more needs to happen. The roster of cloud computing providers is growing, but so far most agency cloud activity has been switching to either Microsoft 365 or Google for e-mail. A few agencies are hosting development and test environments in their data centers. For more cloud adoption, which would spur data center consolidation, the government must find a way to use the cloud broker model. Brokers in effect virtualize the choice of cloud provider. The General Services Administration put out an RFI for cloud broker services in July, but people there say the idea is still a long way off.
Finish the DOD-VA electronic health record. Doesn’t it seem like this one has been going on forever? Both departments have gigantic legacy systems – AHLTA at Defense and VISTA at VA – that must be satisfied, and that hinders adoption of one record or the other. In October, the Institute of Medicine reported that in the merger of two medical centers in Detroit, one VA and one DOD, EHRs were hanging up over how to code prescriptions. Yes, there are a thousand fussy details involved in merging these records, but it’s time to get this one done. The IOM study recommended “no new federal health centers be implemented until an interoperable or joint EHR system is available.”
Show tangible progress towards the ID ‘ecosystem’. The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace should have the funding and attention to show real progress. NSTIC’s goal is a commercial market for electronic IDs that people can use for both government and non-government transactions. Recently the NSTIC’s Identity Ecosystem Steering Group voted on how to organize itself. The group was only formed in late summer. Here’s a blog post from October from Jeremy Grant, the NSTIC program manager. It provides a lot of insight into how complicated the NSTIC project has become. But it did launch five pilot projects in September to test concepts. The time is right. With smartphones selling at the rate of hundreds of millions per quarter, it seems like the mobile device is destined to become the locus of trusted IDs.
Fix the online integrated procurement environment. The System for Award Management project was awarded to IBM in 2010. The idea was to join up eight databases having to do with procurement into a single integrated environment. Although the resulting SAM ostensibly went live in July, it was a mess and agency users complained. GSA sent IBM a warning letter. For some reason the project had been run out of GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy until just a couple of weeks ago when GSA brass moved it to joint ownership of the CIO and Federal Acquisition Service offices. Casey Coleman and Mary Davie, the CIO and FAS acting chief respectively, could re-bid the project or tighten the screws on IBM. But if you believe in having a single portal for viewing everything a contracting officer has to know about a contractor, then SAM should be righted soon.
Rationalize federal Web sites. Yes, I know the administration has been ordering agencies to prune their web addresses. But OMB has sanctioned a slew of what I call meta-sites, sets of resources brought together under a new portal, which is given an XXXXX.gov name. The words apps, benefits, challenge, data, disability, dotgov, drought, grants, how-to, recreation, regulations, symbols, usability, and usaspending are just a few of the function-specific, non-agency names that exist with resources behind them. Is this a better approach than the standard agency.gov way to get at resources? It’s hard to say, but how does the average person find these specialized sites in the first place?