Report: Administration mulls new federal IT unit

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Fallout from the botched rollout of the website could include major changes to the way the federal government hires IT personnel and manages large scale IT projects, according to a Jan. 3 report in the Wall Street Journal.

The Obama administration is considering streamlining the process for hiring IT specialists to match the velocity of the private sector, and using executive branch authority to do it. Another proposal would have government IT workers get private sector experience through rotations at various companies – a reversal of the current White House innovation fellows program. Among the more radical changes under consideration is the creation of a one-stop tech shop inside the government to work on high profile public-facing websites like, rather than having each agency responsible for its own procurement, design, and production.

An unnamed federal official is quoted in the article saying there is “fierce urgency to tackle the problem,” of IT procurement, and the government planned to take a hard look at 50 IT projects under development. "I can definitely narrow that list down to a point where I can actually take a look at it in a much more in-depth way," the official told the Wall Street Journal.

It’s not clear what changes will be made, but officials cited in the article say moves could be coming as early as the first quarter of 2014.

The government tracks spending and scheduling for high-profile IT projects through the IT Dashboard, a website maintained by the Office of Management and Budget. The dashboard data is updated infrequently -- the site is current to Aug. 30, 2013, about a month before the launch of, and isn’t due for a refresh until next month.

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 and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

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

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Reader comments

Mon, Jan 13, 2014

I'm sure the president will be focused on IT "like a laser". He said the same thing about jobs while campaigning in 2008, 6 years ago. We just had the worst jobs report since 2011 and the lowest participation rate since 1978 (think Jimmy Carter - "national malaise"). And now that the jobs picture really hasn't improved since before the financial crisis began, the president turns his "laser like focus" to federal IT. I feel better already (sarcasm intended).

Wed, Jan 8, 2014

Consolidation saves money and extends the time to deployment of any software job. Now all agencies' public facing web sites can be as successful as the ACA site.

Wed, Jan 8, 2014 Bob

There needs to be a Department of Information Technology in the executive branh of the federal government. All IT purchasing and solutions need to be consoldiated from all branches to this new branch. The CIO could then be the Secretary of the Department of Information Technology. This branch will be known as the "DO IT".

Tue, Jan 7, 2014

Well, there is another section of the government I will never be allowed to work in. It is going to be staffed with friend of the bosses and I am nobody's friend. I am just very good at keeping government computers alive and well.

Tue, Jan 7, 2014 OccupyIT

Sad that this will probablt turn into the usual consolidation money/power grab rather than actually assessing which programs are well run and emulating them. Some gunner from GSA will reinvent the wheel, harrass a bunch of people that are doing just fine, and then give themselves an Excellence award for adding value. The real problem children will remain protected by their political top cover (VA, Healthcare, SAM, etc.)

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