While 2014 may be known as the year cybersecurity awareness finally broke into mainstream America’s consciousness, there were a few other technologies that also stood out. When reviewing government IT initiatives, it becomes clear that agencies have moved to accept -even embrace – cloud computing, mobile technologies, Big Data, and collaboration.
The federal government has frequently been compared to a dinosaur – slow and unwilling, or unable, to change. But most agency CIOs have come to realize that the pace of technology innovation is only speeding up. They are working hard to bring new technologies into the federal workplace, and to evolve the internal cultures that on the one hand are resistant to change, on the other are eager to BYOD.
Frank Baitman, CIO, Department of Health and Human Services
HHS started out the year in the headlines, and not in a good way. The disastrous initial rollout of Healthcare.gov in October 2013 was dogged by problems, which in turn led to congressional hearings and a black eye for an administration that previously had seemed pretty tech-savvy. But this time around is a different story. The website has seen new enrollments approach 2.5 million, not counting those who enrolled last year and simply continued their coverage.
In the meantime, HHS has embraced President Obama’s Big Data initiative, and now has more than 1,000 datasets for organizations and citizens to browse through and use to create new products and services. In addition, the department awarded a blanket purchase agreement to InfoReliance for cloud services; after another bidder’s protest was rejected by the Government Accountability Office, work is set to begin on new email and collaboration solutions.
Sylvia Burns, CIO, Department of the Interior
Interior has been busy this year with IT initiatives. Its Interior Business Center (formerly the National Business Center) is one of the four shared services providers designated by the Office of Management and Budget for financial services. The department started moving its several content management platforms to the cloud, utilizing the Drupal open source platform.
Burns, who has been at Interior for eight years, is overseeing numerous major IT projects, including consolidation of IT management across the department while simultaneously setting up a cloud hosting service. “Generally, I think that cloud is kind of a specialty, just because there are things that have to be thought of from a security perspective and from an access and authentication perspective, that are not the same considerations when you have something internal,” she said in an interview.
Sonny Bhagowalia, CIO, Department of Treasury
One major trend sweeping through federal agencies is recognizing the value of “service as a service.” This was given a real jump-start in May, when the Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department announced the designation of four government shared service providers for financial management. Treasury, along with the departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Transportation, now offer services that lower agencies’ administrative costs, establish common processes and procedures, and advance the goal of financial system modernization.
Bhagowalia became CIO at Treasury in October after serving as technology advisor to the governor of Hawaii. He previously served as CIO at Interior, so he brings extensive knowledge from several different perspectives to running the department’s Administrative Resource Center and delivering services that add value to agency customers.