Obama Tech Agenda


computer-chipThe 2008 Obama presidential campaign laid out a series of exciting ideas for the use of technology in government and proposed the creation of both a Chief Technology Officer and a cybersecurity czar.  This was accompanied by the campaign’s own successful use of technology.  During the Transition, the “Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform” working group had its own video.

The opening months of the new Administration has seen top talent being recruited to help lead these initiatives, including Vivek Kundra as the government’s chief information officer (CIO) and Aneesh Chopra as its chief technology officer (CTO).  Via the fiscal year 2010 budget and a series of speeches and initiatives, they’ve begun to lay out their priorities.  Here’s what I’ve gathered so far.  If there is more, feel free to add in the comment section:

FY 2010 Budget.  According to the NextGov blog, the budget proposes increases in the federal government’s technology investment by 7 percent, to nearly $76 billion.

CTO Chopra.  CTO Chopra laid out his priorities at last week’s Management of Change conference in Virginia Beach.  Here’s Federal News Radio and Federal Computer Week’s snapshots of Chopra four priorities:

  • Invest in technology-based innovation to transform the nation’s economy. This includes relooking at the federal research and development agenda and figuring out how to drive innovation through policy.
  • Use “innovation platforms” to bring game-changing ways to address the President’s priorities such as health care, climate change, energy, economic improvement and education. These include:  (1) creating a culture of open standards that can be shared and easily replicated so as to accelerate innovation; (2)  re-directing federal R&D investments to be more applied, and more toward the middle ground “south of procurement and north of R&D;” and (3) expand the use of “crowdsourcing” to gather new ideas and fuel innovation.
  • Deliver a reliable, resilient and trustworthy infrastructure. Chopra will focus on helping to develop a broadband plan by February 2010 and act on a cybersecurity initiative that will emphasize “game changing research and development, and collaboration with the private sector” to improve critical infrastructure and create bug-free software.
  • Create a culture of open and innovative government. Chopra says he will continue to work with federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra, the General Services Administration and others to “build capacity in the federal government for a culture of openness transparency,” to help advance the executive order Obama issued Jan. 21 that “commits the government to greater transparency, citizen participation and collaboration.”

Government Computer News also noted that Chopra “suggested one possibility of working with the General Services Administration to develop an ‘innovation sandbox’ where project ideas could be tested and shared across the government.”

CIO Kundra.  Vivek Kundra, in his maiden speech in March before the FOSE 2009 conference described the Administration’s “four pillars:” transparency via Web 2.0 tools; engaging citizens more effectively in their government; lowering the cost of government operations; and finding and exploiting innovations.

In addition, he has launched several initiatives:

  • Data.gov.  Kundra quickly moved to replicate an initiative he sponsored in the DC Government, which he has called “data.gov.”  This entails posting raw government data on the internet and allowing it to be downloaded and used by citizens and businesses.  When it was launched on May 21st, there were under 100 data sets.  Kundra hopes to have 100,000 up by the end of this week.
  • IT Project Dashboards.  Another DC Government innovation was the monitoring of individual IT projects to ensure they were on track.  He says he will replicate that effort across the federal government and release a beta version of the dashboard by the end of June for the 25 largest federal agencies.
  • Cloud Computing.  The FY 2010 budget includes an ode to cloud computing (see section 9 of OMB’s Analytical Perspectives), lyrically noting:  “Cloud-computing is a convenient, on-demand model for network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

Currently, the General Services Administration has a “request for information” out to industry to help define the parameters of cloud computing, hopefully in more understandable terms!


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One Response to “Obama Tech Agenda”

  1. Norman M. Macdonald Says:

    Cloud computing is usually associated with open systems architecture and is one of the keys to using netbooks effectively. The embracing of open systems as described in this month’s Wired is a real break through in mind set. Netbooks are light, have low energy requirements; the ones with sold state drives have no moving parts, they communicate and are inexpensive – perfect for spreading “Web 2.0”. My final comment is looking very interesting.

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