Budget request highlights push for efficiency

Centralized IT service providers, consolidation of data centers in plan

The Obama administration's $79.4 billion budget request for federal information technology in fiscal 2011 emphasizes consolidation.

That would be carried out by creating central service providers for IT services, consolidating federal data centers, using cloud computing, expanding federal group purchasing and providing for more collaboration among federal employees, according to the “Analytical Perspectives” budget document today.

For example, one strategy being promoted in the budget is developing central service providers for IT services for non-military agencies, which the administration says would reduce duplication and wasteful IT spending across agencies. “Centralized provision of key IT ser­vices could prevent billions of dollars in increased costs across the federal government,” the budget document states.

Leverage planning and analysis will be conducted in 2010, followed by generation of governance models, funding, performance metrics and service models. In 2011, pilot projects would go to production, with the Office of Management and Budget providing guidance.

The administration also seeks to consolidate federal IT data centers. In 2009. there were 1,100 of those centers, up from 432 in 1998.

To achieve the consolidation, OMB will work with agencies to develop a governmentwide strategy and agency plans to reduce the number and cost of the centers.

The budget request also touts cloud computing as a step forward in efficiency and effectiveness. The General Services Administration has claimed a cost savings of $1.7 million annually by moving USA.gov onto a cloud comput­ing platform.

Agencies will deploy cloud computing pilot projects in 2010, and following an evaluation, the cloud solutions would be implemented across agencies in 2011. There will be an on­line storefront to enable subscribers to access lightweight collaboration tools, software, and platform and infrastruc­ture service offerings in a cloud environment.

Following the example of Apps.gov, the administration’s storefront for federal acquisition of software, the White House wants to put additional federal purchases into a Federal eMall. The goal is to move routine federal credit card transactions to that Federal eMall.

Encouraging more collaboration among federal IT employees through using social media and other Web 2.0 technologies is another goal. “This plat­form would enable employees to locate other government employees with common challenges, needed skills, and ideas to solve common problems, communicate and share information, and generate better solutions to problems more efficiently,” the budget document said.

Work on this project will begin this year, with evaluation of alternatives, selection of a solution, development of an implementation plan, and initial implementation. In 2011, the capabilities will be deployed across government, the document said.

The administration is seeking a relatively flat budget for IT next year. It represents a 1.3 percent increase from last year's IT budget request and a 1.6 percent decrease from the current fiscal 2010 enacted level of $80.6 billion.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Reader Comments

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 Ken Powell Micro Focus

The budget request’s inclusion of cloud computing pilots and a plan for implementation provides impetus for this often discussed approach to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Still, despite the frequent discussions around cloud computing, the majority of government agencies rely on COBOL for their mission-critical applications. That doesn’t mean these applications can’t be moved to the cloud; it just means a more thoughtful approach might be needed. Modernization can help.
Instead of rewriting or replacing legacy applications, which can be risky, expensive, and time-consuming, modernizing applications can help government tackle large IT projects by breaking them down into smaller, digestible rollouts. The proper upfront analysis and testing enables agencies to evaluate the move to the cloud for that specific application, to ensure the agency is not only reducing costs but avoiding costs whenever possible.
Ken Powell, President, Micro Focus North America

Tue, Feb 2, 2010

Before any data centers are closed all validated requirements for alternate processing facilities should be satisfied.

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