CIO — WASHINGTON — Efforts to modernize the IT operations of the federal government hinge in large part on accelerating development and deployment cycles, a process that has been hobbled by arcane acquisition and procurement rules, a panel of agency IT executives said today at a government IT conference.
“It seems to me that is the critical thing we should be optimizing for,” said Mark Schwartz, CIO of U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security. “How can we get the cycle time dramatically reduced?”
Where the Silicon Valley ethos encourages innovation, tolerates failure and embraces a culture of iterative development, the culture of government IT might politely be described as risk-averse. Too often, in procurement and acquisition cycles that can drag on for more than a year, CIOs are setting their sights on technology that is already obsolete by the time it arrives at the agency.
Senior government officials — all the way up to the White House — have recognized that challenge and developed a number of policy proposals in response. For instance, the FedRAMP program provides one-stop security testing and certification for cloud computing technologies offered by the private sector. Upon winning FedRAMP certification, a cloud product is cleared for use across the federal government, eliminating the need for each agency to conduct its own testing.
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