US CIO urges citizen engagement

Public-private partnerships are nothing new, but the Obama administration is now looking to citizens to play an integral part in building the next-generation government.

Delivering his keynote speech at the 2012 FOSE Conference in downtown Washington, D.C., U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel highlighted the progress federal IT has seen in the past 15 years, culminating in strategies on cloud computing and shared services.

Prior to 2009, the federal IT budget grew at 7 percent every year, then flattened out after 2009 and slowed down. Despite this trend, the federal government has managed to stay on course with its mission to innovate and achieve cost savings, VanRoekel said.

That effort has been possible due to rooting out duplication, data center consolidation, cloud computing and the initiative to implement a shared services model. Nonetheless, the pace of innovation within the federal government is not on par with the industry, VanRoekel acknowledged.

“You definitely see it; we have some of the most amazing people in the CIOs across the federal government, and there is a lot of little examples of things happening,” he said. “But on the whole from a cultural standpoint, it’s not happening everywhere.”

VanRoekel’s call to action is to citizens to engage and help the government. As the public sector starts opening up data, citizen developers and others will have an opportunity to interact online and provide feedback on what the government should be doing.

The private sector also has an important part in building the government of tomorrow, by bringing the expertise and developing the needed solutions, he said.

“Think about open data, think about these new sharable platforms,” he said. “If your company is contracting with government across multiple agencies, start talking and getting the agencies to broker conversations about how components can be shared. This is where we’re going to go and this is where we need to go.”

FOSE, held April 3 to 5, is organized by 1105 Media, the parent company of Federal Computer Week, Government Computer News, Washington Technology and Defense Systems.

About the Author

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

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