Current Procurement Rules Hamper Federal IT Modernization

Calling the current Federal IT infrastructure unwieldly and out of date, the administration’s IT Modernization Report released last week, said the Federal Government must maximize use of shared services and commercial capabilities and said current acquisition practices hamper federal government efforts to modernize IT.

The report was released last week by the White House Office of American Innovation and was mandated by the administration’s May 11 Executive Order.

It points the finger at the statutory and regulatory requirements that prevent the use of accepted commercial and best acquisition practices.  “Changes and modifications to the existing acquisition requirements could be implemented to achieve efficiencies while maintaining the core tenet of fairness,” the report said.

The main thrust of the 61-page report focuses on modernization efforts to improve the security in the Federal government’s technology.  Many of its recommendations echoed the direction found in the administration’s May 11 Cybersecurity Executive Order.

The report points out that currently federal cybersecurity priorities and funding emphasize a perimeter, network-based strategy.  Instead, the report recommends emphasizing a “layered defensive strategy in Government-wide programs, through increasing emphasis on application and data-level protections. “

In the future agencies will move further toward a risk-based approach to securing their systems that places appropriate emphasis on data-level protections and that fully leverages modern virtualized technologies.

Cloud technology plays a large role in the future, according to the report. The report said existing policies and programs will be “rapidly” updated to eliminate barriers to cloud adoption. Agencies within the federal government will be expected to migrate to the cloud where applicable.  The government will also accelerate the adoption of cloud email and collaboration tools.

The report has a number of requirements for reporting from NIST, OMB, DHS and GSA among other agencies on steps to be taken to implement the report’s recommendations.