'Shared-first' not a must for federal CIOs

Agencies won’t see a mandate anytime soon to implement the shared IT services approach that the U.S. CIO released earlier this month. Instead, they should take it as a tool to guide their IT portfolio management, according to Scott Bernard, the federal chief enterprise architect.

Speaking at a May 17 luncheon organized by the Association for Federal Information Resources Management, Bernard said the language in the strategy reflects the Office of Management and Budget's recognition that agency situations are often different and wouldn’t fare well with a rigid directive.

“They need to have freedom to make informed decisions of how IT enablement occurs, so a mandate with no flexibility is not the right approach,” he said.

Also known as the “shared first” approach, the plan draws on OMB's 25-point plan to reform federal IT by providing policy guidelines on IT shared services. It also embodies a philosophy of “innovating with less,” as described by U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel.

However, while Bernard does not expect shared services to be mandated, it is “the default planning approach.” Agencies that don’t use that delivery model will have to justify why.

“I think the pendulum has swung from ‘it’s nice to think about’ to ‘yes, you need to be doing this or tell us why you are not,” he said.

The shared services plan is more about providing agencies the right tool to manage their IT than giving them the metaphorical carrot and stick, said Andrew McMahon, Portfolio Tech Stat lead at OMB.

Additionally, meetings with the federal CIO, senior policy executives and deputy secretaries will also offer “a really unique and amazing opportunity to bring visibility and show how IT can be used as a strategic asset,” he added.

“I think deputy secretaries when they see this work, they’re going to be extremely excited about executing on it because it makes a lot of sense to do this work,” McMahon said. 

About the Author

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

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