Federal CIOs shoulder new IT responsibilities

The work of a federal agency CIO is never complete, with an endless stream of duties and tasks posing challenges from one quarter to the next. According to a recent article from FCW, the responsibilities of these leaders are on the verge of a major overhaul, as IT becomes a more integral part of agency operations throughout the federal environment. Organizations must recognize that the CIO plays a key role in the direction of their tech investments and overarching strategies, and honor the importance of IT leadership in the digital age.

Financial futures
Until recently, budget management was not in the wheelhouse of the federal CIO, and fragmented financial operations held many agencies back from streamlining the procurement and implementation processes necessary to stay on the cutting edge of IT. FCW pointed out that with the introduction of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, however, these leaders will be expected to exercise much greater authority over the governance, budgeting and programming throughout each component and department within their organizations.

The source noted that CIOs will soon be required to "certify that information technology investments are adequately implementing incremental development, as defined in capital planning guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget," as well as "identify and prioritize the software applications ... that should be considered for migration to a cloud computing environment."

In addition, CIOs will be expected to give the green light on any new products and services procured by their organizations, and the onboarding of any IT officials or professionals hired by the agency.  Most significant will be the close communication channels prepared for CIOs and the Office of Budget Management, which are designed to ensure transparency throughout the financial programming put forth by the organizations. FITARA hopes that with these provisions, budget inconsistencies that have caused problems in the past will be mitigated in the years to come.

The game plan
With a firmer grip on budgets and overall IT forecasting, how do federal CIOs plan to make the most of their newly minted responsibilities? FCW made mention of the long-standing Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, an effort aimed at reducing inefficiencies in IT infrastructure throughout the country's many agencies, suggesting that virtualization and cloud migrations will likely be top of mind for CIOs moving forward. The Department of Defense is a vocal advocate of this endeavor, tracking its progress closely in hopes of revealing precise cost-saving potential.

Consolidation offers proven advantages, according to InformationWeek, which noted that the U.S. Postal Service was able to reduce its 19-server infrastructure down to a mere two. There's no doubt that efforts such as the FDCCI can enjoy accelerated time horizons and smarter procurement with the aid of programs such as FITARA, but even the most weathered agency CIOs must remember to proceed with caution when leveraging next-generation systems for their infrastructure, virtualized or otherwise.

Guidance and consulting from a dedicated cloud and virtualization solutions provider can make all the difference for organizations looking to derive maximum value from FITARA and the FDCCI.