Digital Strategy

VanRoekel touts digital strategy's first-year progress

Steve VanRoekel 102012

U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel detailed the progress that the government has made in the first year of the Digital Government Strategy. (FCW photo)

One year ago, federal CIO Steven VanRoekel and federal CTO Todd Park announced the government's digital strategy. On May 23, the pair put out a new blog post announcing the completion of the latest round of deliverables, including new mobile security guidelines, the launch of an online catalog with nearly 300 APIs, and a digital analytics program that parses government website traffic with an eye to improving performance and delivering the most sought-after information.

A governmentwide policy now looks at how agencies "are tracking from a customer service standpoint, the aspect of usability of the federal web," VanRoekel said in a May 23 conference call with reporters. Metrics are being used to make customer service decisions and investment decisions. He cited the launch of an Education Department app that collapses student aid information from 14 separate websites into a unified resource. "It's exciting to see what analytics can tell us to do," VanRoekel said.

Agencies are now able to track the path users take across federal sites, how they leave and arrive, how they search and for what, and what their clicks suggest about the information they are seeking. The analytics do not include any information that identifies a particular user or computer, VanRoekel said, stressing that the program "allows us to have a view while respecting the security and privacy of people accessing it."

The new API catalog, meanwhile, documents the efforts of each agency to release at least two "major customer-facing systems" through web APIs -- another Digital Government Strategy goal. VanRoekel reported that nearly every agency has created a special page for developers to access APIs, which are also available through a central repository. He said that the two-API requirement was really the "crawl" stage of a "crawl-walk-run" learning curve, and that the amount of data to be made available in machine-readable format is going to dramatically increase over the second year of the digital strategy.

Congress is making a bid of its own to free up government data. The DATA Act, introduced earlier this week in the House and the Senate, is designed to improve the quality and reliability of federal spending data reported to the website. VanRoekel would not address the specifics of the legislation, although the administration had opposed a slightly different measure introduced in the last Congress.

He did point out that the administration planned to move responsibility for the site to the Treasury. And he added that after Obama's executive order on open data went out on May 9, a team from Treasury contacted the CIO's office, to talk about how to "dovetail open data in the next generation of financial systems."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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