The White House


Information technology should enable government to better serve the American people . But despite spending more than $600 billion on information technology over the past decade, the Federal Government has achieved little of the productivity improvements that private industry has realized from IT . Too often, Federal IT projects run over budget, behind schedule, or fail to deliver promised functionality . Many projects use “grand design” approaches that aim to deliver functionality every few years, rather than breaking projects into more manageable chunks and demanding new functionality every few quarters . In addition, the Federal Government too often relies on large, custom, proprietary systems when “light technologies” or shared services exist.

Government officials have been trying to adopt best practices for years – from the Raines Rules of the 1990s through the Clinger Cohen Act and the acquisition regulations that followed . But obstacles have always gotten in the way . This plan attempts to clear these obstacles, allowing agencies to leverage information technology to create a more efficient and effective government.

Over the last 18 months, we have engaged the Federal IT, acquisition, and program management communities; industry experts; and academics . We have conducted listening sessions with Congress, Agency CIOs, and Senior Procurement Executives . We have received detailed input and recommendations from many industry groups such as TechAmerica . This engagement process has led to recommendations for IT reform in the areas of operational efficiency and large-scale IT program management.

A 25 point action plan is detailed below to deliver more value to the American taxpayer . These actions have been planned over the next 18 months and place ownership with OMB and agency operational centers, as appropriate . While the 25 points may not solve all Federal IT challenges, they will address many of the most pressing, persistent challenges . This plan requires a focus on execution and is designed to establish some early wins to garner momentum for our continued efforts . Active involvement from agency leadership is critical to the success of these reforms . As such, the Federal CIO will work with the President’s Management Council to successfully implement this plan.

Some highlights of the implementation plan include:

  • Turnaround or terminate at least one-third of underperforming projects in IT portfolio within the next 18 months
  • Shift to “Cloud First” policy . Each agency will identify three “must move” services within three months, and move one of those services to the cloud within 12 month and the remaining two within 18 months.
  • Reduce number of Federal data centers by at least 800 by 2015
  • Only approve funding of major IT programs that:
    • Have a dedicated program manager and a fully staffed integrated program team
    • Use a modular approach with usable functionality delivered every six months
    • Use specialized IT acquisition professionals
  • Work with Congress to:
    • Consolidate commodity IT funding under the Agency CIOs and
    • Develop flexible budget models that align with modular development
  • Launch an interactive platform for pre-RFP agency-industry collaboration

This plan is divided into two sections: Achieving Operational Efficiency and Managing Large-Scale IT Programs Effectively . The first section outlines the steps being taken to adopt cloud solutions and leverage shared services . The second section covers the structural areas that impact the success rates of large IT programs across government . The 25 action items listed throughout the plan are summarized in the chart at the end of the document.