The federal government IT community has been taking stock in recent days of just what has been accomplished in the year since the White House — and U.S CIO Steven VanRoekel and CTO Todd Park — issued their Digital Government Strategy (PDF).
The short answer is: Quite a lot.
The strategy, as VanRoekel and Park summarize it, “is built on the proposition that all Americans should be able to access information from their government anywhere, anytime, and on any device; that open government data – data that are publicly accessible in easy-to-use formats – can fuel innovation and economic growth; and that technology can make government more transparent, more efficient, and more effective.”
More specifically, agencies were challenged to rethink their central approaches to developing IT solutions, with an emphasis on managing data instead of documents; sharing platforms to reduce costs; focusing on enabling end users; and ensuring information is delivered safely and securely.
While the collection of deliverables in many respects represent the first steps in a longer journey, they also reflect some significant strides in what can be – and is getting – accomplished thanks to the growing impact of cloud computing and mobile technology.
Among some of the more notable accomplishments:
- Recognizing the power of open government data, the President recently released an Open Data Policy and Executive Order on Open Data (Milestone 1.1), making open and machine-readable the new default for government data.
- Agencies took up the challenge of Exposing High-Value Data through Web APIs (Milestone 2.2), releasing hundreds of unique APIs that harness the power of federal government data in areas such as health, public safety, education, and consumer protection. Among them are Labor Department APIs that provide instant access to more than 100 economic indicators such as employment numbers, wage statistics, and consumer price indexes.
- The government’s central portal for government data, Data.gov, transitioned its central catalog to an open source platform, enabling automated aggregation of data directly from agencies websites and Enabling Data.gov to Aggregate Agency Data (Milestone 2.3), making it easier for citizens to find what they’re looking for across government, while reducing the barriers to opening data.
- The General Services Administration (GSA) established a Digital Services Innovation Center (Milestone 3.1) to improve the government’s delivery of digital services by drawing on and sharing the expertise of forward-leaning agencies.
- The Digital Services Advisory Group and Federal CIO Council developed a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) Toolkit (Milestone 3.3), which sidestepped issuing specific policy recommendations, but gives agencies a comprehensive guide to key considerations, best practices, and examples of existing policies from successful agency BYOD programs.
- Agencies also now have at their disposal a Shared and Open Content Management System guide (Milestone 3.4, Web API Development Support (Milestone 3.5) and Mobile Application Development Program (Milestone 3.6) to increase the interoperability and accessibility of government information and encourages agencies to open up their content and data via web APIs.
- Under the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative, agencies now have access to a Government-wide contract vehicle for mobile devices and wireless services (Milestone 5.1) that is expected to consolidate wireless spending and save an estimated $300 million over the next five years.
- Agencies also now have Guidelines for Improving Digital Services and Customer Experience (Milestone 6.1) including a new set of common measures and tools for gauging how well customers are being served.
- Government-Wide Mobile and Wireless Security Baseline (Milestone 9.1)
Perhaps most important, though with much still to be done, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, aimed at enabling agencies to share security testing information and prevent unnecessary duplication.
- The Federal CIO Council also developed Recommendations for Standardized Digital Privacy Controls (Milestone 10.3) in a digital environment.
Add all that to a wide assortment of new mobile applications developed by agencies for the public and it’s fair to say the Digital Government Strategy accomplished quite a lot.
Perhaps most of all, it unleashed a broad-based, yet focused roadmap that is likely to keep agencies building on the past year’s accomplishments.
“In the end, the digital strategy is all about connecting people to government resources in useful ways,” VanRoekel and Park said. “And by ‘connecting’ we mean a two-way street. We are counting on the public – developers, entrepreneurs and innovators – to join us, and be a part of the process. Together, we will continue to modernize government to respond to 21st Century opportunities.”