Tech costs are the latest budget item the federal government is looking to rein in — and its plans could give IT managers ideas on how to do the same.
President Obama recently revealed the sad state of government IT when he made some candid remarks to reports covering a fundraising event in Chicago.
Obama called the government’s technological affairs “horrible,” and said that when it comes to technology in the White House, “we are like 30 years behind.”
But what’s being done about it?
How exactly will the feds cut the IT budget? Highlights of the plan include:
1. Use the cloud
The CIOs of government agencies are being told to identify three areas of services that can be migrated to the cloud.
The report points out a range of benefits offered by cloud services, including:
- Flexibility – Agencies can scale the services they pay for up and down as needs dictate.
- Price – The pay-as-you-go approach will let agencies spend less on IT services.
- Speed – With cloud services, agencies don’t need to wait for new hardware and software to be procured and installed.
2. Manage projects more effectively
The report recommends that agencies form carefully assembled project management teams before a new project is started.
This includes selecting a project management team to oversee initiatives based on skills relevant to the project, as well as creating performance goals for the team and each individual member.
3. Strengthen partnerships with universities
One key way the feds plan on improving their IT efficiency: hiring better people for IT departments.
The government plans to do that via a technology fellows program, in which departments team up with schools to hire interns and recent graduates, thereby getting early access to a new talent pool.
4. Get user’s feedback
The report highlights one key problem in the typical hardware and software acquisition process: Decisions are often made without the input of the employees who will use the items being purchased.
It’s important to get feedback from users on key decisions. Otherwise, significant amounts of money may be wasted on systems that are difficult to use or don’t meet the organization’s needs.
5. Introduce some budget flexibility
One problem many organizations face that’s an especially big issue for the federal government: Since budgets must be approved well before equipment is bought, purchasing decisions are made too far in advance.
That means the purchase isn’t always the best option at the time it’s made. Having more flexibility allows organizations to focus their IT budgets where they’re most needed.