Federal CIO VanRoekel unveils plan to boost government innovation

The White House is kicking off two initiatives that will transform the federal IT landscape and how the government uses technologies and new innovations, a top official said.

Speaking at an industry event in Palo Alto, Calif., federal CIO Steven VanRoekel discussed his new priorities and shared how the White House is moving forward on the innovation front. He began his speech by highlighting how innovation has been a driving force throughout U.S. history – from the work of entrepreneurs to federal agencies.

“As it did [in the 1980s], America’s future now depends on our capacity to innovate and harness technology, he said. “That’s even more true of the federal government.”

As main priorities, VanRoekel said he will concentrate on maximizing return on IT investments, closing the productivity gap and enhancing citizen and business interaction with government. Cybersecurity and changing how the government invests will also be areas of focus.

"First, we must focus on maximizing the return on American taxpayers’ investment in government IT by driving efficiency throughout the federal enterprise," he said. The White House's Campaign to Cut Waste was launched to hold agencies accountable for driving these kinds of reforms in government, and "by doing more with less, we can drive savings across government and use those savings to reinvest in services that benefit the American people."

The White House is now launching an initiative aimed at cutting duplication across the federal IT portfolio. The “Shared First” effort would help the federal government shift to commodity IT, leverage technology, procurement and best practices and expand on current investments “rather than re-inventing the wheel,” VanRoekel said.

A second initiative is also in the works, he said, and similar to how the “cloud first” policy transformed federal IT spending, “Future First” aims to invigorate the government’s implementation of new technologies and approaches.

VanRoekel said he envisions a set of principles such as “XML First," "Web Services First” and other “firsts" that will inform “how we develop our government’s systems,” he said.

“They will effectively establish a new default setting for architecting solutions governmentwide, and they will be continuously updated as new technologies emerge to ensure that our government is at the frontier of advancements that yield a higher return on our IT investments, increase productivity, and improve the way the government interacts with the American people,” he added.

VanRoekel also called on the collaboration of the private sector and the public to build a modern, more efficient government.

"Whether you work for the government or for the private sector, we are all citizens," he said. "And we all have a role to play in bringing the spirit of innovation to the work of building a better government."

The speech marked VanRoekel's first appearance on video.


 

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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