VanRoekel: More data coming from feds in fiscal 2014

CIO says open data unlocks opportunities for agencies and business alike.

U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel

U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel took his message of innovating with a flat budget to the federal contracting community when he delivered a broad outline of the federal IT budget and previewed new initiatives at an AFCEA event April 19.

VanRoekel said he hopes to make open data the default setting of the federal government and advised vendors to think about how to collect and disseminate data so that agencies could make it available to public users in a nonproprietary way. He cited real estate listing networks Zillow and Trulia, the credit card protection firm BillGuard, and health website iTriage as examples of private firms that are using open data to unlock business opportunities.

“The steel factories of old are starting to become the data factories of the future,” VanRoekel said.

He also announced that agencies’ reporting requirements for PortfolioStat are being tweaked in the program’s next iteration. Agencies will now need to supply only three collections of data a year instead of 30 because officials have eliminated duplication and variations of similar questions.

VanRoekel’s office is also looking for ways to codify the Office of Management and Budget’s guidance on giving agency CIOs more budget authority. According to FCW’s reporting, the issue of CIO authority over departmentwide budgets might be part of the reason Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires has been on leave for more than a month. Neither VanRoekel nor acting DHS CIO Margie Graves, who was also at the event, would discuss the Spires case and instead directed inquiries to their press offices.

Graves was part of a panel of agency CIOs who addressed concerns that as much as 70 percent of agency IT budgets are devoted to paying for the operations and maintenance of existing programs, leaving relatively few resources for new projects. Graves said that “the ever-increasing O&M monster is accelerating” the demand for change among federal IT agencies, and the solution is to move from a capital expenditure model to budgeting for operational expenses.

She said DHS is looking to vendors to provide solutions that are flexible enough to withstand surges in demand and are not owned and operated by the government. “That is the conversation we’re having with industry,” she said.

Cheryl Cook, acting CIO at the Agriculture Department, also spoke at the event, and said state governments represent an often-overlooked resource for data center consolidation. Her agency maintains remote operations in agricultural regions, and Cook said state departments of agriculture are likely partners for IT colocation.

NEXT STORY: CIO wanted at FEMA

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