OMB's digital strategy expected imminently

Editor's note: The plan has been released. Read our updated story here.

The long-awaited digital strategy from the Office of Management and Budget may be announced as early as May 23, sources say. Officials have been previewing the plan for several weeks, and FCW got a sneak preview of draft version of the plan. Some elements of the draft version could be different in the final release.

Titled “Building a Future-Ready Digital Government”, the plan expands on the efforts of the 25-point plan to reform federal IT and management. Its main objective is to help agencies create an architecture that promotes openness and interoperability. The end goal: Ensure citizens can access government information and services “anywhere, anytime, on any device,” according to an April 2012 draft version FCW was shown.

OMB officials have kept mum about the plan’s details and the release date, avoiding spilling much information about its overarching goal. U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel only in recent weeks disclosed tidbits of information, without revealing any concrete deliverables, and noted that mobile technologies will play a major part.

"We're not very far from you taking the device sitting in front of you and just plugging that in -- it just becomes a conversation about screen size, not about where you are and how you're accessing the network,” he said at a May 11 technology forum. “It's 'anytime, anywhere, any device' and make that government experience exist for federal employees and for citizens interacting with government. It needs to be a necessity. "

Haley van Dyck, a policy analyst at the Office of Management and Budget, who spoke at a May 3 event, said the strategy is the culmination of the federal government’s work to improve its use of mobile technology and rethink its service delivery model.

Developed in conjunction with federal CIOs, chief acquisition officers, the Federal CIO Council and other groups, the strategy foremost focuses on making machine-readable connections to government data and service so citizens have better access to high-quality government information .

The framework also stresses building a modern infrastructure to support the digital government’s efforts to leverage its buying power to slash costs. It also calls for the procurement and management of mobile devices, apps, and data in a smart, cost-efficient and secure way.

The plan calls for the creation of a digital services innovation center within the General Services Administration, as well as the establishment of an advisory group that will work with agencies to promote shared services, best practices and training. The center will function as a cooperative enterprise, drawing on resources across government to leverage expertise from “forward-leaning” agencies.

Under the new strategy, agencies will drive the use of emerging technology. Each agency will have to identify at least two major customer-facing systems that contain high-value data and content and expose this into “responsive web design.”

GSA will set up a governmentwide contract vehicle for mobile devices and wireless services, as well as a governmentwide mobile device management platform. The plan is to also develop models for fast and secure delivery of commercial mobile apps into the federal space.

The strategy's four key principles:

  • Information centric: How can agencies transition from managing documents to bits of data that can be tagged, searched, analyzed and disseminated?
  • Shared first: How can agencies collaborate to promote shared services and best practices and develop open standards for data and application management throughout government as a way to accelerate adoption of new technologies?
  • Customer centric: How can agencies make their web presence more relevant to citizens? Agencies will do research to find out what citizens want and needs. Web content will be better available. Content will also be accurate and relevant, and follow the guidelines of the Plain Writing Act of 2010.
  • Security and privacy: Agencies will strive to promote safe and secure implementation of technology and streamline relevant processes. The aim is to architect for more transparency and adopt identity management, cryptography and mobile device management -- all to protect citizens and their privacy.

About the Author

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


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