4 goals for fiscal 2014
Is it poor form to say good riddance to fiscal 2013?
Not all the news since last October has been bad, but anyone affected by agency budgets — that is, everyone in federal IT — just endured 12 straight months of meat-cleaver spending cuts, multiple shutdown threats and the severe restrictions on strategic planning that come with continuing resolutions.
That's no way to run a government, but as FCW has explained in some detail, those hoping for a return to regular appropriations had best not hold their breath.
Still, hope springs eternal. So here's our short list of modest proposals for fiscal 2014:
1. Better budget clarity
Agency leaders can cope with tight budgets and even use those pressures to jump-start needed reforms and reinventions. They cannot, however, plan for the future when CRs curtail the spin-up of new programs and when funding could be slashed or interrupted entirely next Tuesday. Real budgets are needed for effective management, and agencies deserve a true appropriation — even if it comes in omnibus form.
2. Collaborative cutting
Budgets are likely to keep shrinking, and with the possible exception of cybersecurity, most IT programs should expect flat funding at best. Furloughs and across-the-board cuts are an idiotic approach to austerity. IT leaders must be proactive with agency executives, congressional overseers and the Office of Management and Budget to find smarter ways to make the numbers work.
3. Get behind the innovators
Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel speaks frequently about finding savings in IT and reinvesting them in innovation; it's one of the most appealing aspects of the administration's Digital Government Strategy. Yet too often, such creativity gets stalled, not supported. If ideas like applying energy savings performance contracts to data centers (see Page 21) have flaws, put the effort into fixing them — not to keeping them in limbo.
4. Start early on fiscal 2015
It is easy to blame Congress for the lack of action on fiscal 2014 funding in the past several months, but the executive branch missed key deadlines, too. The time to start working toward next Oct. 1 is now.
Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW. Connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.