Management

Sonny Hashmi's 9 principles for GSA IT

GSA CIO Sonny Hashmi (Photo by Zaid Hamid)

General Services Administration CIO Sonny Hashmi. (FCW photo by Zaid Hamid)

The General Services Administration has melded an "open source first" policy with the federal government's cloud-first policy to develop a list of nine key principles the agency’s CIO says will guide its IT operations into the future.

GSA Chief Information Officer Sonny Hashmi said the nine principles should be incorporated into all of the agency's new IT builds or enhancements. "These principles will guide us as we continue to modernize our organization, processes, technologies and platforms at GSA," he wrote in an Aug. 1 blog post.

In addition to open source first and cloud first, the other principles are:

  • Open shared data.
  • Single seamless sign on.
  • Digital services improvements.
  • Record management.
  • Cybersecurity.
  • Effective vendor/partner engagement.
  • Platform reuse first.

On platform reuse, Hashmi said that GSA has spent money over the past few years on common application and infrastructure platforms to allow rapid deployment, reuse of resources and cost-effective delivery of business services. The platforms reuse common components and technologies to cut IT costs and complexity by reducing the number of applications and tools its end users need to learn and access, he said.

Former Presidential Innovation Fellow Clay Johnson, a frequent critic of the federal procurement system, praised GSA's effort to become a touchstone for open source. "I think it’s a great thing. The GSA and the 18F team are doing remarkable things demonstrating to the rest of government how it should be done," he said.

Gunnar Hellekson, chief technology strategist at open source solutions provider Red Hat US Public Sector, concurred.

"This really is the GSA adopting industry best practices. Commercial companies evaluate open source as a matter of course. It’s just standard operating procedure. It’s wonderful to see the GSA join its commercial counterparts in taking advantage of everything open source has to offer," Hellekson said.

"One challenge GSA will face is having the talent and expertise to use all the open source available," he said. "Groups like 18F can help build capacity, but the GSA will also be relying on commercial open source vendors and system integrators that can take some of the sharp edges off these cutting-edge products."

While the GSA is known for being an early adopter of the government's cloud first initiative, its use of open source software is relatively new. "Simply put, any solution developed by taxpayer dollars should be in the taxpayer's domain," Hashmi said. "At GSA, we believe that all code we developed should be shared under an open license so others may benefit from it. In addition, we will give priority to using open source software as we design new solutions."

Hashmi's open source software pledge comes after the agency unveiled its 18F tech innovation program a few months ago, and marks a further solidification of the agency's efforts to be more flexible and innovative in the sometimes-stolid and prescribed world of federal procurement.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1986, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

  • Shutterstock image.

    Merged IT modernization bill punts on funding

    A House panel approved a new IT modernization bill that appears poised to pass, but key funding questions are left for appropriators.

  • General Frost

    Army wants cyber capability everywhere

    The Army's cyber director said cyber, electronic warfare and information operations must be integrated into warfighters' doctrine and training.

  • Rising Star 2013

    Meet the 2016 Rising Stars

    FCW honors 30 early-career leaders in federal IT.

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