How the digital government strategy will impact client computing
DGS is a game-changer for federal agencies
The recently announced digital government strategy (DGS) was rolled out by the Obama administration to help constituents and government employees gain access to digital government information from any location at any time on any device.
Agencies are expected to gain from the DGS how to procure and manage end-user computing devices, services, and applications securely and affordably. The White House also hopes to enable citizens to better leverage the rich wealth of federal data for new applications and services in the future.
The DGS was developed using a range of input from government practitioners, the public and private-sector experts. Two cross-governmental working groups — the Federal Mobility Strategy and Web Reform task forces — provided guidance and recommendations for building a digital government. Those groups worked with the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration to conduct current-state research, such as the December 2011 State of the Federal Web Report, and explore solutions for the future of government digital services. Feedback was also included from citizens and government employees using online public dialogues, including the September 2011 National Dialogue on Improving Federal Websites and the January 2012 National Dialogue on the Federal Mobility Strategy, which produced a combined total of 570 ideas and nearly 2,000 comments.
Primary strategic goals
The DGS sets out to accomplish three things:
* Enable U.S. citizens and the U.S. federal workforce to access high-quality digital government information and services anywhere, anytime, on any device. Operationalizing an information-centric model, agencies should strive to architect systems for interoperability and openness, modernize content for publication and deliver better, device-agnostic digital services at a lower cost.
* Ensure that as the federal government adjusts to a digital world, agencies leverage the opportunity to procure and manage devices, applications and data in smart, secure and affordable ways. The goal is to break free from inefficient, costly and fragmented IT practices; build a sound governance structure for digital services; and do mobile “right” from the start.
* Unlock the power of government data to spur innovation and improve the quality of services for the American people. The objective is to enable the public, entrepreneurs, and government programs to better leverage the rich wealth of federal data to pour into applications and services by ensuring that data is open and machine-readable by default.
A focus on partnership
In conjunction with the federal CIO Council, the DGS will be used to launch a mobile application development program to help agencies develop secure, device-agnostic mobile applications and provide a development test environment to streamline app delivery, foster code-sharing and validate official government applications.
To augment cross-agency collaboration that has developed through initiatives such as the Web Reform and Mobility Strategy task forces, OMB will formalize and sustain such coordination into the future by convening a Digital Services Advisory Group with members of the CIO Council, Federal Web Managers Council and others. Through its leadership, the advisory group will promote cross-agency sharing and adoption of mobile workforce solutions and best practices in the development and delivery of digital services that build in security and privacy and keep the federal workforce abreast of emerging technologies.
The advisory group will have three main focus areas:
• Help prioritize shared services needs for the Digital Services Innovation Center. The advisory group will identify areas that need governmentwide leadership and work with the center to determine the best shared solutions that leverage existing agency work and commercial options to the extent practical.
• Foster the sharing of existing policies and best practices using online platforms and communities of practice to provide more structure to existing ad hoc collaboration efforts. For instance, many front-running agencies have already launched bring-your-own-device (BYOD) pilots that test new devices and solutions. The advisory group will work with the CIO Council to develop governmentwide BYOD guidance leveraging their findings. The advisory group will also work with the Federal Web Managers Council to develop guidelines for improving digital services, creating better digital content and setting up intra-agency governance models for delivering better digital services.
• Identify and recommend changes to help close gaps in policy and standards. For instance, as new technologies are introduced into the federal environment, policies governing identity and credential management might need to be revised to allow the introduction of new solutions that work better in a mobile world. Equally, as new technologies emerge, telework rules might need to be revisited to allow employees to work from any location, as long as the device and connectivity are appropriately secure.
Leveraging enterprisewide adoption
Another goal of the DGS is to leverage an enterprisewide approach to mobile device, service and application procurement. The federal government currently spends approximately $1.2 billion annually for mobile and wireless services and devices, with an inventory of approximately 1.5 million active accounts. Those figures will only increase as agencies accelerate the adoption of mobile technologies.
By moving to an enterprisewide model, the administration hopes to leverage economies of scale and streamline purchasing, invoicing and asset management processes. GSA will also explore different pricing models, such as usage-based pricing (e.g., metered), first at the agencywide level and eventually at the governmentwide level. To jump-start this shift, GSA will establish a governmentwide contract vehicle for mobile devices and wireless service and offer agencies the option of accessing central portal services for placing orders, reporting inventory and managing expenses to optimize their mobile usage. GSA will also set up a governmentwide mobile device management platform to support enhanced monitoring, management, security and device synchronization.
The CIO Council will work with the Digital Services Advisory Group to develop models for the secure yet rapid delivery of commercial mobile applications into the federal environment to support the consistent application of security and interoperability requirements. For example, an enterprise mobile application environment could provide central hosting, distribution, certification and management services for mobile applications.
For their part, agencies will be required to develop and maintain an enterprisewide inventory of their mobile devices and wireless service contracts and include an evaluation of governmentwide contract vehicles in their alternatives analysis for all new mobile-related procurements.