MeriTalk - Where America Talks Government
Steve O'Keeffe

Delicious Digg StumbleUpon
View All Entries
Popular Tags
Posted: 6/24/2009 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Republican or democrat, Federal IT reinvention is a graveyard of three letter acronyms.  TQM, FEA, BPR, PMA – the “new-think schemes” have all proved disappointments in the ring – too much trash talk, no punch, glass jaws all around. As such, many in our community hear reinvention and immediately turn off their sets. We’re all tired of super heavyweights holding each other for 15 rounds, hitting below the belt, and the judges splitting the decision – while taxpayers get the black eyes. While Obama’s mob promises real change like others before, the Fed IT community wants to watch a couple of workouts before jumping into the new contender’s corner. Is a real shakeup afoot? 

Well, we’re starting to get some glimpses inside Obama’s IT training camp. Vivek Kundra is imposing a new workout regime – although questions abound about his operational plan and very aggressive timelines. At the same time, IT’s constant sparring partner – the Hill – is making some important funding moves. So, let’s take a closer look at the action in the two biggest fights in Fed IT – cloud computing and cybersecurity.
Four developments last week make the cloud outlook more real. GSA will issue its cloud RFQ shortly after July 4th. At the same time, the rocket scientists are helping with the math – Chris Kemp, CIO at NASA Ames, briefed Casey Coleman on the agency’s real-world experience with Nebula, its established cloud program. In other news, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved significant 2010 funding to consolidate DHS’ 24 data centers into two secure facilities – primed for a cloud play. And, OMB and GSA rolled out the Federal Cloud Computing Governance Framework and named Casey Coleman, CIO at GSA, and Carl Staton, deputy CIO at Energy, as co-chairs of the Executive Committee, setting strategic direction. Importantly, recognizing that it will take more than the CIO nod to realize cloud success, the framework names Pete Tseronis, deputy associate CIO at Energy, to chair the Cloud Advisory Council, which brings together agency IT infrastructure and enterprise architects. A 30-something with strong ring experience, Pete has the vision and operational spark to bring the Fed cloud to earth.   
We clearly have challenges in cybersecurity. Melissa Hathaway’s 60-day Cybersecurity Review makes it difficult to sleep easy. And, the Hill seems uncomfortable with Defense leading the charge on cyber. We need a cyber czar to light the path forward. On the bright side, some positive news broke last week. Tony Sager, the reigning cybersecurity champion at NSA, threw down for more progressive red team/blue team cyber sparring as a way to improve our vulnerability testing. NIST, DoD, and the Intelligence community released the first of three phases of the plan to secure government’s cyber space – the Unified Information Security Framework. As the Senate Appropriations Committee funded DHS’ data center consolidation, it also approved $398.7 million to expedite efforts to combat the cybersecurity threat by reducing points of network access. 
So, is there real change afoot – or is it all prefight hype? We’re still in the early rounds – it’s too early for the judges to make a call. But for skeptics who have grown deaf to the talk of change, I’d point out that not all talk is cheap. Our community is starting to take some critical steps in operationalizing the change – Mr. Kundra, please show us a roadmap with deliverables and associated key dates so that more people will buy into the vision. We should all remember that some fellas who make a lot of noise can back it with their hands – just listen to Sonny Liston.
Posted: 6/2/2009 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

While Daniel Craig customarily takes on a room full of goons in the service of her majesty, even 007 might abandon Elizabeth when confronted with the $71 billion crushing inertia that is Federal IT. Enter Vivek Kundra – our IT change agent focused on saving not Liz, but LibITy.
Speaking at a GBEF dinner last week, Mr. Kundra talked about new transparency – the end of what he called the “era of faceless accountability” in Fed IT. He said that OMB will unveil a new public-facing Fed IT program dashboard on June 30 that will provide new transparency into, and accountability for, agencies' IT management performance. And, organized under a photograph of the CIO, the dashboard will show whether programs are on track, on budget, on schedule – and quantify the variance. An even-handed approach, the site will track contractors' performance and agency change orders – to lay bare the drivers for performance challenges. The notion is that complete transparency will ensure that CIOs keep their eyes focused on the prize.
Like Bond, Kundra is young, smooth, and irreverent. However, can Kundra succeed in his mission to shake up Fed IT – and if so, will his path to success be littered with CIO and contractor corpses in the wake of his Aston Martin?