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Steven VanRoekel Wants IT Operating Funds Moved For New Programs

As the federal chief information officer, Steven VanRoekel has stressed that his primary goal in office is to reduce the amount agencies spend on technology operations and maintenance.

Those funds could then be diverted to new projects, he said, according to NextGov.

Agencies have typically funded new projects through additional budget allocation rather than reducing day-to-day operational expenses.

VanRoekel, who GovConExec named a federal official to watch in 2012, told attendees of the FOSE 2012 conference Tuesday that the previous strategy led to a 7 percent annual increase in federal information technology spending during the decade leading up to 2009.

The government’s IT spending has stayed at around $80 billion a year since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Other CIOs have taken the approach of cutting IT system maintenance spending to fund new projects.

Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires included a 10 percent operating spending cut for his department’s 2013 budget request to make way for new initiatives.

The Defense Department’s IT budget for 2013 includes a $1 billion decrease and VanRoekel attributed that cut to the government’s data center consolidation efforts.

Initiatives to close or consolidate federal data centers shifts funding toward cloud computing services, VanRoekel said.

This effort also weeds out duplications and makes room to fund new programs, he added.

Another strategy VanRoekel wants to use to keep track of duplicative programs is through the PortfolioStat program introduced earlier this week.

PortfolioStat is an agency wide IT portfolio management tool modeled after the TechStat program.

The program allows federal CIOs and chief operating officers to examine agency operations and identify which services could be shared across agencies more easily, VanRoekel said.

VanRoekel said the Agriculture Department’s email system and mobile phone contract system consolidations are examples of shared service efforts.

The Pentagon is considering similar moves, including consolidating several agency email systems.

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