September 1, 2009 By Steve Towns, Editor
and turning around the poorly performing projects.
The dashboard includes a public feedback feature. Is that being used yet?
We recognize that the federal government does not have a monopoly in the best ideas. We've already seen more than 20 million hits on the Web site. We've gotten feedback from the public, frontline workers, the GAO [U.S. Government Accountability Office] and Congress in terms of specific projects at a macro level and suggestions on how we can take the platform to the next level. So there's active engagement. And we recognize that making sure everybody in the country - all 300 million Americans - have the opportunity to comment, to give us feedback will allow us to run a more efficient, effective government.
Right now the dashboard is specifically for federal IT projects. Do you anticipate that states and localities eventually will participate in any way?
We've been working very closely with state and local governments, specifically with NASCIO [National Association of State Chief Information Officers], on a number of issues. IT governance is one area where we are talking about what we can do to take this to the next level. We're already working on our transparency with raw data through Data.gov. We're challenging and working with states and locals to make sure they get as much data online as possible, similar to what we're doing in the federal government with Data.gov.
So that approach could spread?
Absolutely. It could reflect every aspect of government operations, not just technology projects, but also health care, energy and education. Once that data is made available to the public, you can do interesting mashups, create applications and innovate in spaces where innovation is needed at a time when the only way we can lead is through innovation in a global economy.
NASCIO contends that federal funding rules for state-administered programs often encourage stand-alone IT systems and discourage enterprise architecture efforts. Do those rules need to be revised?
That's an issue we are actively looking at right now. From my experience with Virginia [as assistant secretary of commerce and trade] and also the District of Columbia [as chief technology officer], that's an issue we dealt with, and we're working with NASCIO to figure out what will be the best path forward.
Can you give any specifics?
It's too early to say right now.
What do you see as the toughest issue for moving the federal government toward a cloud-computing model?
The key is simplifying how we provide services. For far too long, we've led with essentially memos, and what we need to start doing is lead with making sure we have solutions. How do we provide agencies with solutions that create value so they move toward the cloud platform? A big challenge, of course, is around security. How do you ensure solutions are FISMA [Federal Information Security Management Act]-compliant? How do you make sure that the rules and regulations that govern privacy are addressed? How do you make sure as you move toward data, the ownership of data and the data-element level from agency to agency is different?
So there are a number of challenges that we were looking at. We met with private- sector companies, NGOs [nongovernment organizations], some of the brightest scientific minds, and they're helping us look at where we're headed when it comes to cloud computing. We're also working very closely with NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology]. I believe a key area when it comes to cloud computing is to begin with looking at consumer technologies. In our personal lives, if we wanted to go online and share photos or sign up for e-mail or start a Web site ... those transactions literally take minutes.
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