2013 lapses drive new performance goals

Obama and the budget

President Barack Obama's budget charges Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel with spearheading improvements to IT acquisition and delivery, one of 15 cross-agency priority goals highlighted.

President Barack Obama's fiscal 2015 budget request includes a slate of 15 cross-agency priority (CAP) goals, with IT reform and security at the top of the list. The two most prominent government IT failures of 2013 – the buggy launch of and the leak of top secret signal intelligence program documents by contractor Edward Snowden – appear to be driving the latest priorities.

Top presidential cybersecurity advisor Michael Daniel is taking the lead on an effort to protect government networks, and developing metrics to measure success – a continuation and update of the 2013 Cybersecurity CAP Goal.

The effort includes continuous monitoring of government networks, improving anti-phishing and malware defense through technologies and training, and the development of a system for credentialing feds and contractors with the goal of making sure users "have access to only those resources that are required for their job function," according to the website.

The new section on access looks to be a particular outgrowth of the Snowden disclosures, and it comports with a recommendation of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies that advised creating a category of "administrative access" for IT personnel accessing classified systems that gives them access to work on systems and software, without providing, "unnecessary access to substantive policy or intelligence material."

Security clearance reform is a related priority, with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta and cybersecurity advisor Daniel taking the lead. The goals include improving oversight and quality of background checks, creating an insider threat detection program, improving automation of threat detection, and trimming the backlog of rechecks of potential high-risk cases.

Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel is leading the charge to improve IT acquisition and delivery, with the assistance of CTO Todd Park and Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson. The administration wants to look outside the community of federal IT contractors to include small, innovative companies, while expanding hiring authority and contract flexibility. One key change will be using the CIO's shop inside the Office of Management and Budget as an incubator for new models and templates for government websites. It also appears that a reform of the TechStat and PortfolioStat review system is in the offing.

The open data goal, articulated in previous CAP documents, has been updated. Metrics are a big part of the new iteration, with the administration promising to measure the economic impact of data released by the government, the impact on the delivery of government services, and any improvements to internal government efficiency.

More generally, the goals reflect the data-driven management agenda announced by Obama in July 2013 and further developed in the budget released March 4. They include efforts to drive the use of shared services at agencies in financial management, human resources, technology and acquisition, and a plan to extend the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative to IT purchasing and other areas.

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 roles 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.

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