Ideas for the New Federal CIO

(Photo Credit: Steveness/Flickr)

Today, former Microsoft executive, Steven VanRoekel, was announced as the replacement for the inaugural Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra. Kundra announced in June that he would resign this month for a fellowship at Harvard University. VanRoekel  was most recently with the U.S. Agency for International Development, after a post as managing director of the of the Federal Communications Commission. At the FCC, VanRoekel headed the agency’s new media efforts and spearheaded the redesign of to take advantage of cloud computing.

Since Kundra announced his intention to leave for the hallowed halls of Harvard, technology pundits have been playing armchair analyst, suggesting where the incoming Federal CIO should place his focus. Some wonder whether VanRoekel will continue tackling the challenges of Kundra’s 25 point plan for Federal IT reform. In addition to these challenges, VanRoekel inherits a host of new challenges, including:

  • Migration of more applications to the cloud
  • Consolidation of Federal data centers to achieve operational efficiencies
  • Sophisticated cyberterrorism threats
  • Lack of budget for upgrading antiquated Federal IT environments; and,
  • Growing consumerization of Federal IT

In Government, it’s hard to find areas of common agreement. If you were the incoming Federal CIO, which part of the complicated IT agenda would you tackle first?

If the new Federal CIO were to ask his peers in IT agencies across the beltway, there’d be no argument. In a recent survey by Federal News Radio 67-percent of Federal agency CIOs said that mobile computing was the technology area agencies need to improve to better meet their stated missions. Mobile computing is not just transforming Federal IT – its transforming government.

Mobile computers, tablets and mobile phones enable work to take place in the field, anytime, anywhere and on any device. The General Services Administration calls this move its A3 initiative.  Agency directors and senior officials carry tablets while frontline workers call for more flexibility and durability to their work lives through rugged mobile computers. While security concerns remain for IT administrators, recent advancements in secure access, coupled with the long term productivity benefits point to mobile computing not being a question of “if” but “when?”

With that said, we think mobile computing is going to be the biggest opportunity for Federal CIOs. If we were CIO for a day, we’d look at upgrading antiquated Federal IT environments with future-proof mobile solutions. But, that’s our take. What’s your take on the government’s IT agenda? Where should the new Federal CIO focus his efforts?

Provide your comments below.