While the president’s proposed fiscal year 2015 (FY15) budget takes no dramatic turns for federal IT policy, we here at the IT Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS) think that it does usher the government toward a matured plan to increase efficiency and productivity using today’s most innovative technologies. While many of the IT priorities can be gleaned from the summary below, it is important that the budget priorities are not lost on the bigger picture – namely that many of today’s problems can only be solved with technology if coupled with a review of current practices and policies. There are numerous opportunities for new business -- and a few things of which federal contractors should be aware.
The budget includes a focus on addressing cybersecurity threats; cloud computing; managing costs; expanding the use of strategic sourcing and the use of shared services; improvements to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education; and reforming the military's acquisition process.
Specifically, the president’s proposed budget calls for:
- Maximizing the utilization of ConnectED: The proposal provides additional funding for expanded access to broadband technologies in K-12 classrooms and for professional development for educators.
- Promotion of STEM fields: The president's budget highlights the need and commitment to increasing funding for STEM fields. Specifically, President Obama is calling for a complete evaluation of current STEM initiatives across all agencies to reach federal IT goals.
- Creating a 21st century government that is more effective, efficient, and delivers services to American citizens by taking advantage of the rapid growth in technological innovation. A number of the elements in this section will be of interest to those supplying services or selling technology to help federal agencies carry out their programmatic missions.
- PortfolioStat – The PortfolioStat program, which streamlines major IT projects, is given further blessing in the budget.
- Strategic Sourcing/Shared Services - The budget encourages expanded use of strategic sourcing and shared services across the enterprise of the government.
- Reforming military acquisition – Continuation and implementation of the Department of Defense (DoD) Better Buying Power initiatives are encouraged. Often cited as a component of acquisition reform, the Better Buying Power initiatives should continue to look at ways to improve how the DoD buys its weapons systems.
- Cloud computing - The budget enhances agency authority to advance many activities to the cloud. This model will increase the government's ability to not only pay as it goes, but will also better promote resource utilization at the agencies.
- Consolidating data centers - To continue the government's efficiency in IT plans, the president's budget encourages the continued consolidation of data centers. The goal is to increase IT efficiency and reduce their energy footprint, as well as strengthen the U.S. government's cybersecurity posture.
- Workforce – The budget focuses heavily on improvements to the federal workforce and dedicating resources to narrow the gap in talent and experience that exists today. Additional training programs and career paths have been included in the president’s proposal.
- Cybersecurity – The proposal includes many elements to continue to reinforce the nation’s cybersecurity position, including the promotion of better information sharing between agencies and federal, state, and local governments, reinforcing critical infrastructure, and added protection and response mechanisms.
ITAPS will continue to analyze the budget as other stakeholders provide details about IT spending levels. While only a starting point, we are pleased that the president has included so many progressive technologies to help solve problems facing the U.S. government today. We must continue to think forward to maximize technology’s greatest abilities to serve the government and its citizens, and take a look at the current system that sometimes holds us back.