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High-profile Tech Leaders to Debut IT Reform at White House

Jeffrey Zients and Vivek Kundra; Photo: omb.gov, Pedro Nogueira

Several well-known Obama administration technology leaders will formally unveil key IT reforms next week at the White House.

And in a nod to the announcement’s subject matter, the overhaul of federal IT, the event will be streamed live over the web.

The Forum on IT Management Reform led by federal Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients and federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra will touch on all aspects of the pair’s big new ideas for federal IT: from the role of the CIO and acquisition reform to more flexible budgeting.

Spurred on by the successes of the CIO of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Roger Baker, Kundra and Zients have proposed giving federal agency CIOs more autonomy over their budgets, especially when it comes to commodity technology, such as email, infrastructure and cybersecurity, Federal News Radio reports.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Hill working with the appropriations committees to consolidate commodity IT under the CIO,” Kundra said yesterday at a federal IT conference sponsored by Government Executive, according to Federal News Radio. “We may have to work committee-by-committee to get this change done.”

Currently, except for the CIOs of VA and the Department of Homeland Security, few agency IT heads have much control over their respective tech budgets, Federal News Radio reports.

Zients, who is also the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, first unveiled pieces of the new proposal at a Northern Virginia Technology Council event late last month.

Other pillars of the pair’s IT overhaul include:

  • “Cloud-first” approach to technology
  • Aligning federal budgets/appropriations with “tech-refresh cycles”
  • Hiring more professional program managers
  • Increased communication between IT industry, community and agency managers
  • In-person reviews of federal IT projects

The Forum on IT Management Reform will be held Dec. 9, 8:30 a.m. at the White House. It will be streamed live on the White House’s website.

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