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Contributing Writer

Technology CEO Council’s Lightweight Federal IT Recommendations

Nov 03, 20103 mins
Cisco SystemsData and Information SecurityGovernment

Have you heard of the Technology CEO Council? Neither had I until until recently. The council is made up of a strange mix of tech CEOs from organizations including Applied Materials, Dell, EMC, IBM, Intel, Micron and Motorola. Why this group and not Adobe, Cisco, HP, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, Oracle, and Symantec? Beats me.Anyway, the group published a paper in early October called, “One Trillion Reasons: How Commercial Best Practices to Maximize Productivity Can Save Taxpayer Money and Enhance Government Services.” The paper stresses the need to reduce federal spending and suggests some IT initiatives in support of this objective. The initiatives include:1. Consolidate information technology infrastructure2. Streamline government supply chains3. Reduce energy costs4. Move to shared services5. Apply advanced business analytics to reduce improper payments6. Reduce field operations footprint and move to electronic self-service7. Monetize government assetsThe paper is available at agree with the spirit of this paper as there are plenty of ways to use IT costs savings to reduce overall federal spending. That said, the paper is pretty weak and self-serving. Specifically: * The Feds are already doing most of these things today. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra is already driving data center consolidation. Agencies were asked to submit initial input on June 30, 2010 and finalized plans are due on December 31. Lots of federal agencies including CIA, DHS, DISA, and NASA are well along the road to cloud computing as well. Perhaps the feds should be more aggressive but the same could be said of any organization. * The paper ignores legislative challenges. The paper suggests things like consolidating common IT services like payroll, finance, and human resources. Once again, this is nothing new as this type of consolidation was suggested in 2001 as part of Karen Evan’s Federal Enterprise Architecture. Moving beyond inter-departmental cooperation toward a federal IT organization could indeed save money but it would require overhauling (or at least tweaking) the Klinger-Cohen Act of 1996. This could be a long arduous process. * What about security? Federal IT spending is dominated by military and intelligence agencies with deep security requirements. You can’t just consolidate around these. Yes, security standards and regulations should be changed to keep up with the times — this is exactly what’s happening with FISMA 2.0 and the FedRAMP strategy to streamline cloud computing certification and accreditation (C&A). Again, these things take time, thought, and care — not ideas and papers.The CEOs also need to remember that their own internal IT organizations are far different than those in the Federal government. When EMC executives mandate a massive VMware project, all of IT jumps into formation. It doesn’t work that way in the public sector.There were certainly some good points in the paper but overall it is really a marketing piece put out by a lobbying organization. In my humble opinion, there is some irony in this paper and organization — while the Technology CEO Council publishes a paper about how the Federal government can save money on IT, companies like Dell, EMC, IBM, and Intel are happily wasting dough on a half-baked lobbying/PR organization. Funny world.

Contributing Writer

Jon Oltsik is a distinguished analyst, fellow, and the founder of the ESG’s cybersecurity service. With over 35 years of technology industry experience, Jon is widely recognized as an expert in all aspects of cybersecurity and is often called upon to help customers understand a CISO's perspective and strategies. Jon focuses on areas such as cyber-risk management, security operations, and all things related to CISOs.

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