Tight budgets should not stall innovation, VanRoekel says

Although the government is driving initiatives in areas like cloud and mobile, it would benefit from taking some pointers from industry, said the federal CIO.

Steven VanRoekel spoke at a May 24 hearing before a Senate subcommittee on the efforts to reform  federal IT spending. Having worked in the private sector, most recently at Microsoft, VanRoekel drew on his experience to offer insight on what the government could learn from industry.

The two sectors have unique challenges, he said. In the private sector, focus is often on keeping costs low and value high, and zone in on results he said. Even with flat-lining budgets, the commercial sector keeps innovating, VanRoekel said. The government can, and should, take a lesson from that, he said. 

‘We tackle very unique things in the public sector,” he said, citing cloud computing, privacy and different elements of security that apply, as well as the consumerization of IT.

In addressing the different challenges each sector faces, Dave Powner, director of IT management Issues at the Government Accountability Office, said the sense of accountability “is much stronger” in private industry.

But the government is not too far behind on the accountability issue, having launched initiatives such as the IT Dashboard which allows for greater insight into details of federal IT investments.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Powner said. Agile software development is another area the government  should consider more often, he said. Agile development can lead to usable products in 90 days, not the many months that conventional development practices often require.

The hearing was the first one VanRoekel has testified before since becoming federal CIO in August 2011. It was before the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and  International Security.

About the Author

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

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Fri, May 25, 2012 Eireguy

Hmm. There is a cost for innovation. Private industry knows this and moves money to R&D as needed. We do not have that same budgetary latitude as Feds.

Fri, May 25, 2012 Chuck Viator

It will be interesting to see how this prediction plays out in the context of "evidence-based-budgeting". The rub might be hype versus reality and the investment cost associated with the innovations.

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