VanRoekel: Citizens expect more digital interaction with government

The next generation of citizens will demand more digital interaction with government, pushing public sector leaders to partner with industry to make it a reality, said the White House chief information officer.

Speaking at an event Dec. 16 hosted by the Association for Federal Information Resources Management and ACT-IAC, federal CIO Steven VanRoekel underscored the importance of technology and innovation in the government and discussed his key priorities for 2012.

With the consumerization of technology, citizens will expect to interact with the government in with help of technology. This shift toward a more technology-driven population has been seen in the emergence of a “Facebook Nation,” with individuals who are fluent in technology and know how it affects their lives, VanRoekel said.


Related story:

Cloud providers get security standards under new program


But he also acknowledged that few had known the impact Twitter, Facebook and YouTube would have.  “I think what we hadn’t anticipated was the effect of social media,” VanRoekel said. “We now have 80-year-olds who are getting on Facebook and embarrassing their grandkids, like my parents!” he added jokingly.

Those digital natives will drive changes in the public sector. Instead of cumbersome, multistep approaches to filling out something as simple as paperwork for Social Security, “they expect digital interaction with their government,” VanRoekel said.

“We have a nation of people who expect more,” he said, “and it covers the gamut of people who really interact with the government all up.”

Laying out his priorities for the new year, VanRoekel said he will focus first on maximizing return on investment on federal IT and “how we will do more with less.” But oftentimes, he said, the focus has been more on the “less” part: how many data centers were closed down, how much money was saved and whether a TechStat killed a program. “I think it’s equally as important to also give the message about what we are doing from the ‘more’ perspective, and always couple ‘more’ with ‘less,’” VanRoekel said. “If we go out and talk about something great we’ve done, [we should ask] how can we do that great thing in a more efficient way?”

2012 will also see more work in closing the productivity gap in a 21st-century government. “We as the government haven’t kept pace with the private sector as far as productivity, both as employees and the aggregate level in government all up,” VanRoekel noted. “There needs to be efforts put forward in thinking about closing that gap and bring these two things together.”

In his first 120 days as federal CIO, VanRoekel launched the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace and FedRAMP, and the same focus on cybersecurity will continue in 2012.

With FedRAMP, agencies now have a blanket purchase-like agreement to go in and buy cloud services that also meet stringent security guidelines. Traditionally, agencies had to go through the process by themselves, with a 30 percent to 40 percent higher cost, VanRoekel said.

“This is a great opportunity from an industry perspective to help us, as we crawl, walk and run through the FedRAMP process that is shaped in a way that is most beneficial to you and as secure and beneficial for the government,” he said. This will be the thing that lights the fire under cloud computing in the federal government and gives us a way to really ignite the phenomenon all up.”

About the Author

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

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group