Slowly but surely how federal agencies acquire, procure, and roll-out information technology is changing. The days of proprietary software are long gone as are long-term contracts and rapidly expanding data centers. Driven in part by on-going budget constraints and by mandates like the recently announced Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI), it’s the centrality of IT to the delivery of mission critical services that is the real change here.
How FITARA is Changing the Role of Agency CIOs
With FITARA assuming a defining role in federal government IT, it appears as though there’s a distinct need to redefine the role of the CIO. In a recent interview with FCW, Federal CIO, Tony Scott, shared that “[t]he Office of Management and Budget is working on a revised job description that could serve as a template for CIO jobs across government.” While the OMB has not publicly released any details of what the revamped job description will look like, speculation inside the Beltway is that new the next generation of CIOs will have DevOps, InfoSec, and data analytics as core competencies. Scott has also been heard discussing the importance of “rotational assignments” to ensure that agency IT workers who follow a career path in public service are well prepared to take on senior positions.
Learning More about the Data Center Optimization Initiative
In a bold acknowledgement that the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) was not having the desired impact in containing the number of data centers operated by federal government agencies, the mandate was suspended this spring. In its place came the Data Center Consolidation Initiative (DCOI) which is still focused on reducing the number of data centers but redefines how data centers are categorized and also ties DCOI goals to both FITARA and Cloud First for greater effectiveness.
The General Services Administration (GSA) has made clear that it has a central role to play in the success of the DCOI to ensure that the ambitious goals become a reality. One of its primary roles will be “to find the most efficient data centers to accommodate information for multiple agencies, create a Federal marketplace for data center services, and push agencies toward the cloud.”
But how do you know if your data center is operating at optimal efficiency? You can find some useful resources here.
Department of Defense Looking to Build Strong Alliances with Private Sector
Department of Defense (DoD) CIO, Terry Halvorsen, is taking a bold stance when it comes to IT modernization. At an event earlier this summer Halvorsen called for closer ties with the private sector and now he’s unveiled an eight goal “living document” to help drive collaboration between allied military counterparts as well. By government standards the DoD’s “Way Forward” document, as it’s become known, is a slim tome, at just 7 pages, but it clearly lays out the importance of cyber and IT capabilities to mission success and national security. Each goal identifies mission impact, critical goals, and discusses how other organizations – from military alliance partners to strategic industry partners – will help the DoD achieve their goals.
Is ‘Be Prepared’ the New Motto for Federal Agencies?
As federal mandates require agencies to know more about their environments from where data is located to how budget is spent, it seems that IT departments are better equipped to face the challenges that lie ahead for data-driven government. But how do they are when it comes to cyber preparedness?
Given the constant state of attack on federal agencies networks, storage environments, and endpoints, cybersecurity readiness is a hypercritical area of importance. According to a recent article in GCN by Joe Kim, SVP and Global CTO of SolarWinds, the definition of cyber-preparedness needs to expand to include more than the just the traditional malicious actors trying to hack into networks. In the article he noted that “[i]n the past, cybersecurity threats were thought to come solely from malicious activity outside the organization, so agencies focused on protecting sensitive information from foreign governments, hackers and more. Today, however, careless or untrained employees are just as dangerous to network security as malicious threats.”
Want to learn more about preparing your networks from insider threats? You can find some great resources here.