While it may be too early to describe the Department of Energy’s (DoE) IT modernization strategy as a success, the agency has made strong progress toward reaching the strategic goals it outlined just over six months ago.
DoE’s efforts come as government agencies seek ways to improve efficiency while reducing the cost of providing services.
According to a September 2012 memorandum and white paper, the combined work of the DoE and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is aimed at delivering “improvements in the enterprise that will enable shared services, reduce the cost of IT infrastructure, improve the speed and flexibility of operations, and create the foundation for a virtual workforce for the 21st century.”
In a recent interview with FedScoop, Robert Bechtel, chief technology officer and senior policy adviser for DoE, shared several examples of who the agency has embraced cultural transformation required for their mutual successes. The agency’s goals are to:
- Leverage existing information technology and expertise to maximize its accomplishment and reduce costs
- Identify and foster new and emerging information technology to maximize its mission and reduce costs
- Provide departmental IT governance, policy, and oversight processes to ensure secure, efficient, and cost-effective use of IT resources
- Strengthen enterprise situational awareness to foster near-real-time risk management and combat advanced persistent threats while forging interagency and sector partnerships to protect critical infrastructure, promote information sharing, and advance technologies for cyber defenses
To meet these goals, Bechtel says the DoE plans to continue partnering with commercial entities that are authentically innovative. For example, Bechtel points to the DoE’s use of salesforce.com as it prepares to compress 100-200 business applications onto the platform. While this effort could take as much as 2 1/2 years to complete, it represents an important step by the government to move away from developing and maintaining proprietary solutions to leveraging best of breed solutions, no matter their origin. In addition to streamlining business applications, the agency’s strategy also involves utilizing a hybrid cloud environment to control costs as well as employing infrastructure on demand, leveraging ‘platform as a service’ and ‘software as a service’ as well as managing commodity IT assets externally. Of course, security is always front and center.
With these changes underway, Bechtel believes,” it’s an exciting time in government [and] it’s an exciting time for the Department of Energy. We are at a point in time where we have reductions in budgets and reductions in our ability to spend lots of money to solve problems rapidly. We have to be smarter, and we have to work fast because we have a short timeline and low budgets.”
What other government agencies on the federal level are making great strides in the area of IT modernization? Please share your thoughts with us.