Alongside the release of the proposed 2017 budget, the White House released its annual Analytical Perspectives of that proposal, a sort of justification of the money the administration wants to spend.
The document, which totals 418 pages, analyzes every cent of the proposed budget, from where it goes to why it’s needed. Among this outpouring of information, the analysis contains five important trends in the IT world and describes how the Federal government plans to address them.
1. Enhancing Federal IT to secure data
Not only is President Obama spending $19 billion to beef up cybersecurity efforts, he also wants to invest in new systems. The proposal: to put $3.1 billion in seed money to a revolving General Services Administration fund that would switch out older IT systems for new ones. The fund would also enable Federal agencies to fortify hard-to-secure existing systems by installing mechanisms that update those systems using new best practices and technologies.
2. Standardizing Operations
The plan emphasizes the goal of establishing shared services and standardized operations across agencies. Due to previous success in standardizing the payroll system across agencies, the proposed budget would aid in the standardization of agencywide IT. Part of this endeavor is accomplished through the creation for the Shared Services Governance Board, led by the Office of Management and Budget. The goal is to enable agencies to become more efficient, saving funds in the long term.
3. Attracting and Expanding the Workforce
On the whole, the plan addresses the need for a younger Federal workforce. The Analytical Perspectives states, “According to the Partnership for Public Service, individuals younger than 30 years of age make up 23 percent of the U.S. workforce, but account for only 7 percent of permanent, full-time Federal employees.” This lack of young employees can mean a crippling loss of skill as the older employees retire without an infrastructure of younger employees to take their place.
This is especially relevant in the government IT world, as Federal agencies have struggled to recruit and retain the best IT experts. The Analytical Perspectives has set the goal of hiring 500 top technology and design experts by January 2017. To accomplish this goal, the budget plans to expand “scholarship for service” plans, develop cybersecurity curriculum for academic institutions, and provide grants to expand the National Centers for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Program.
4. Improving Digital Procurement Efforts
Slow response and confusing guidelines continue to hamper the Federal procurement process. The U.S. Digital Services teamed up with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in late 2015 to develop a more agile procurement process. This year the USDS will build on that momentum to improve delivery efforts in the procurement process by continuing to support the Digital Service Contracting Professional Training and Development program. The program will continue to seek input from contracting companies to develop digital service procurement best practices it can implement to streamline the process.
5. Researching and Developing IT
Overall, the proposed budget would invest $152 billion in R&D programs, which is a 4% increase from 2016. The Analytical Perspectives notes that IT research in areas such as high-capacity computational systems and cybersecurity is an essential part of this R&D fund. “They are vital to the nation’s interest in science, medicine, engineering, technology, and industry,” the analysis states. The proposed budget therefore places an emphasis on IT research and development as a keystone for other programs. It places particular import on the multi-agency Network and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program, which will provide strategic planning for and coordination of agency efforts in IT.