Presidential Agenda

Digital government milestone passes in silence

Cover of Digital Government

The six-month mark for the president's Digital Government strategy has passed.

The six-month milestone since the White House released its Digital Government Strategy has come and gone with little fanfare.

When the three-month mark came in August, U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel penned a blog post highlighting the strategy’s early successes. The latest milestone, Nov. 23, passed with no mention at all.

Office of Management and Budget spokesperson Ari Astles told FCW in an e-mail that OMB will “highlight the ongoing work related to the Digital Government Strategy, including agency implementation successes and resources,” in early 2013.

The Digital Government Strategy update will coincide with OMB’s open data policy release, Astles said, which will build on the work of the Presidential Innovation Fellows on open data initiatives.

When OMB does highlight the milestone, the news will be reasonably good. A majority of agencies met most, but not all, of the six-month goals the strategy set. The data is available at the General Services Administration’s Digital Services Innovation Center.

But the agencies, like OMB, are not talking about it much. Calls and requests for comment to the General Services Administration and several other departments regarding the six-month deliverables were declined, with the agencies citing a desire to follow OMB’s lead.

According to David Powner, director of IT management issues at the Government Accountability Office, dueling priorities may be part of the reason for continued silence.  Powner said agencies have several big initiatives up in the air right now, including TechStat, PorfolioStat and the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative.  Powner said those projects could realize about $10 billion in savings all together.

“Prioritizing work ends up being a big thing,” he said, adding that dollar savings can certainly make a difference with regards to agency prioritization.

Jay Huie, a senior project manager at ActioNet, Inc. and creator of the digital government strategy tracker, said progress is not always perfectly on deadline.

“Deadlines are good, motivating factors, but there also needs to be recognition that you can’t mandate innovation on a timeline,” said Huie, whose government tracking tool monitors websites that are supposed to result from the Digital Government Strategy.

“If an agency didn’t turn a website on, maybe that’s not bad as long as it is in the process of turning it on,” said Huie. “Tools like the Digital Government Tracker, I think should be used as tools not to bludgeon agencies over the head but to ask the question, ‘Do you need help?’ And if so, let’s get the federal CIO in there and find out why.”


Some of the six-month milestones from the Digital Government Strategy

  •  OMB: Issue government-wide open data, content, and web API policy and identify standards and best practices for improved interoperability. (In progress)
  •  GSA: Establish government-wide contract vehicle for mobile devices and wireless service. (Pending)
  •  GSA: Establish agency-wide governance structure for developing and delivering digital services. (Completed)
  •  GSA: Establish government-wide contract vehicle for mobile devices and wireless service. (Pending)
  •  GSA: Update the dot gov guidance and procedures to help ensure all new digital services meet improvement guidelines and provide support to agencies. (Completed)
  •  All agencies: Develop an enterprise-wide inventory of mobile devices and wireless service contracts. (In progress)
  •  All agencies: Implement performance and customer satisfaction measuring tools on all .gov websites. (In progress)

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

The Fed 100

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


  • 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

    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