MeriTalk - Where America Talks Government
Steve O'Keeffe

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Posted: 5/12/2010 - 2 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]


There's an establishment next door to our office in Old Town Alexandria called the Sacred Circle. Tarot-card reading, crystal balls, hair-ball divining, hocus pocus, that sort of carry on. Guess I'm not much on jiggery or pokery. Seems to me if that stuff really worked, nobody would much bother with having a flutter on the ponies. But, let's say that you could get inside Vivek Kundra's head - understand OMB's direction for the upcoming years. My there'd be a line of contractors up and down King Street waiting to stare into the gypsy's eyes...right?

Well, step up to my ouija board. Here are the magic numbers - 321-329. You may want to jot those down. And, with those numbers, we can prognosticate what's in Mr. Kundra's magic bag of IT. But, for my first trick, let's answer the eternal question - how big's the Fed IT budget and where's it headed? I've heard numbers from $70 to $80 billion - but what's $10 billion among friends? The 2010 budget is $78.44 billion - that's up from $71.227 billion in 2009. And, the number is projected to grow by 1.2 percent next year to $79.375 billion.

Yes, we've all heard the "doing-more-with-less" mantra. But, if the numbers are growing, aren't we talking about doing more with more? Perhaps today, but the path forward - beyond 2011 - does not look so magical. The wizards at Gartner tell us that Federal IT spending will start to decline in 2012 or 2013. Agencies need to take a hard look at their priorities today - and work out where to start proactive rationalization. Failure to do so will mean radical "gun-to-the-head" cuts as budgets start to contract. And so, Mr. Kundra wants Feds to tighten up IT spend starting today. The Federal CIO's spell book is all about centralization, green, consolidation, procurement reform, cyber security, hiring the right IT people into government, and transparency - it's about affecting real change today to prepare for tomorrow.

So here's my read on the Federal civilian IT tea leaves - the top 10 priorities for 2010:

  1. Survival of the Fittest - Centralized Service Providers: Feds are taking a leaf out of DoD's book in identifying the best providers of specific services - human resources, financial management, and the like. Pilot programs in 2010 will blossom into production in 2011. We'll see less duplicative systems, so watch out if your agency is not a centralized service provider.
  2. Russian Dolls - Data Center Consolidation: There are more - OMB wants less. Let the turf wars begin. As I said in my data center consolidation blog, this will likely prove a tough operational exercise. It'll be interesting to watch the sleight of hand tricks on definitions of what is a data center...You can register to attend the MeriTalk 1,100 conference on Data Center Consolidation on May 20th at the Reagan Building - DHS CIO and all the Federal leaders will be there.
  3. One-Stop Shopping - Centralized Purchasing: Feds spent more than $20 billion using purchasing cards in 2009. The plan is to focus Federal purchasing through an online eMall. Now, not all of that $20 billion is IT spend, but GWAC operators, I'd watch your wallets.
  4. IT Census - Replenishing the Cyber Ranks: OPM reports there are 70,000 IT pros in the Federal government - wouldn't conference organizers like to get their hands on that list... 2,500 of these IT pros are leaving the civil service each year. The CIO Council will survey the Fed IT workforce to learn who's on board, who to hire, and what IT pros think about Federal service. Yep, figure that'll be an online survey.
  5. Federal Facebook - Collaborative Platform: You've heard of Spacebook. You know MeriTalk. You know GovLoop. Get ready to meet a fresh new face - FedSpace, the new Web 2.0 platform for Feds. Web 2.0 experts from across government are hard at work mapping requirements today. The platform will debut this year and go into full-scale production in 2011. Guess you'll be able to access it from your government PC... Somebody's going to lose face at some point - how many Web 2.0 platforms do we need in government? Feds will vote with their cursors.
  6. Naked Truth - New Transparency in the Offing: Now this stuff gets confusing. Between,,, IT Dashboard, and geospatial; we may need a dashboard to manage our dashboards - sometimes more can be less. The goal is to tie these data resources together to provide for radically improved management and new government-to-citizen transparency. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) will be delighted to hear that will provide subcontractor transparency in 2011 - bringing OMB into compliance with the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA). Now we'll know where our tax dollars really go.
  7. Government Customer Service - Seriously?: In 2010 and 2011, Uncle Sam will stand up - yes, you guessed it - another dashboard. This will highlight the top service delivery touch points to show the quality of service delivered to the public. I got in trouble last time I made a DMV joke - and the DMV got its own back on me when I had to apply for a disabled parking pass. So, moving right along...
  8. Challenge Platforms - Innovation Prizes: Jumping on the reality TV bandwagon, Feds will ask average Americans to help solve priority challenges - cash prizes for clever ideas. Joking aside, this is a great, common-sense idea.
  9. Cyberscope - FISMA Gets Off the Ropes: Tired of being the punch bag of Fed IT, FISMA's been to the gym - and is ready to start hitting back. Equipped with Cyberscope - yes, that's a dashboard - the new FISMA's long on real-time awareness, short on paperwork.
  10. Identity Crisis - HSPD-12: Feds will revitalize identity management. As of September 1, 2009, Uncle Sam had issued some 4.1 million credentials. Twenty-nine percent of Feds still don't have their cards, so more work to do here. You know that credentialing and authentication will become increasingly important in a cloud-based world. As we push forward with issuing cards, it's important not to forget that cards don't add much value without readers...

Okay, so that's the top 10 prognostications for the coming two years. So, Dope, where'd you get this dope you may ask? Séances with the CIO Council? Digital divining? Remember the magic numbers you jotted down earlier - 321-329? Those are the page numbers in the Analytical Perspectives of the Budget of the U.S. Government for Federal Year 2011 where OMB lays out its plans. No magic here. The mystery is that more people don't read this public document. It's much cheaper than a session with a fortune teller - but please don't tell the fellas at the Sacred Circle. But if they're really psychic, figure they already know...

Posted: 5/6/2010 - 1 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]


What you talkin' 'bout, fool? Does anybody else remember the "A-Team" - Murdock, B.A. Baracus, Hannibal, and Faceman? When planning a mission, George Peppard - the one-time-"Banacek" star - and the "A-Team's" Hannibal, coined the line, "I love it when a plan comes together..."

Well, we've been working with a group of Fed IT pros to put together a little caper of our own. An operational dialogue on Data Center Consolidation - DCC - called MeriTalk 1,100 on May 20 at the Reagan Building in D.C. We started the planning knee-deep in the "snowpocalypse," when OMB released its Federal DCC Initiative memo on February 26. To net it out, data centers are like rabbits, and the population is out of control - it's skyrocketed from 432 in 1999 to more than 1,100 today. And, they're expensive little bunnies, and many of them aren't working that hard - so OMB wants fewer rabbits working harder. DCC is myxomatosis. OMB's directive does point to the green opportunity. Federal data centers are hungry - in 2006, they consumed over 6 billion kWh and are projected to eat 12 kWh by 2011. And, who wouldn't want to save some lettuce, or carrots as the case may be?

We chatted with Feds about the DCC directive. Feedback - this is big stuff. A significant part of Uncle Sam's IT spend goes on bunnies. We ran into a DCC lead from one agency and learned that each agency has a "bunny killer" lead - I'll do my best to avoid the "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" jokes. We asked if they knew their peers in other agencies? Nope. Interesting that the Feds should push out a program focused on consolidation and better workload optimization without providing the leads with a list of their peers in other agencies. We scampered about trying to identify the bunny killers in other agencies. Within a week, we hosted a conference call with 45 participants - the DCC leads from many agencies. Real progress. We extended an invitation to the two lead execs from the CIO Council - Richard Spires, CIO, DHS, and Michael Duffy, CIO, Treasury. Richard Spires signed up and will keynote alongside Bob Otto, the former CIO at USPS - they'll share the vision and the operational reality. Regret Michael Duffy had a conflict and could not make it. Neil Wright from Treasury will share his private-sector perspective on how a major DCC initiative delivered at UPS. Fifteen Federal DCC experts signed up to speak in the program. More than 400 DCC experts and operators signed up to attend. Great stuff.

But, let's go back to the A-Team's Hannibal - throughout the planning calls, Feds nibbled at the disconnect between the DCC and green IT mandates. While the DCC stuff talks green, there was no connection between the DCC goals and the green IT goals as established in E.O. 13423 - requiring agencies to reduce energy intensity by 3 percent annually - and in E.O. 13514 - focused on reducing green house gas and sustainability. Considering the overlap between the green mandates, why not combine agencies' green IT planning and reporting? Further, why shouldn't agencies map their green IT initiatives into DCC planning? Mike Howell of OMB released a Modification to 2011 Passback Language for Green IT Plans on Thursday, April 29 that brings the green IT and DCC plans together. Now we need to identify and share the relevant agency points of contact and enable real operational dialogue - conversations among stakeholders where we discuss successes and challenges, and work together to map a high-value path forward. To be sure, the path ahead is not easy. Like an A-Team assignment, the mission is difficult. We are greatly encouraged by OMB's good-sense decision to level stove pipes and lighten the redundant reporting streams - as George Peppard would say, "I love it when a plan comes together..."