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GCN : May 2016
The federal government’s “ Cloud First” policy is supposed to be the governing mandate on how agencies acquire and deploy information technology systems. However, a number of agencies are not yet on that path or are not very far along. David Powner, Director of Information Technology Management Issues at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), studies federal government infrastructure issues from both the agency and interagency levels. Powner recently spoke with journalist Francis Rose about what he sees government doing now with infrastructure and what he sees agencies doing moving forward. Rose: Data center consolidation is the dominant IT infrastructure issue in government right now. Where does that effort stand? Do the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and GAO have a handle on the number of data centers yet? Are the numbers even the most important metric to understand in data center consolidation? Powner: We’re starting to get a good handle on the numbers . The inventory changes are slowing down. We’re always going to find a few things here a nd there, but that’s star ting to solidify. Obviously, the focus so far has been on those inventories, what we’re closing, and the dollars we’re saving. That’s all well and good, and we still want to have some of that. But there’s also been a real shift toward focusing on the appropriate metric. Going forward, we really want to utilize the facilities efficiently, as well as the equipment within those facilities, so we’re truly optimizing these data centers. Rose: If we’re still talking about metrics for measuring data center consolidation and maximum utilization of servers, we’re not going to make a broad-based transition to the cloud for a long time to come, are we? Powner: No, we don’t have as clear a picture of the extent to which federal agencies are in the cloud, or which agencies are utilizing cloud services more than others, as we do on the data centers. We k now we’re tra nsitioni ng to the cloud somewhat, but the extent is unk now n. We clearly know we’re not in the cloud to the extent we should be. There are still too many agencies that don’t have credible transition plans. There are about ten agencies we see that really don’t have any plans, and we have made recom mendations in ou r latest repor t for those plans to be put in place. Some agencies commented they had already conducted their consolidation and savings to date. They expected few additional consolidations and savings going forward. We went back to some of those agencies and said, “You can say you’re done, but you’re really not, because the metrics actually show you’re far from optimizing your centers.” Rose: You mentioned the intention of FITARA to remedy the issue of who’s in charge of IT projects at agencies. The role of ensuring that happens falls to Congress. That could be potentially very difficult to do in the next nine to 12 months as we go through a presidential election and a transition from this administration to another. Powner: There are several key things here. We’r e expecting a new scorecard on FITARA implementation to come out in May. We also expect Congress is going to ask the GAO to do a series of reports looking at FITARA implementation issues through the tra nsition period. A lot of good things are happening at OMB. They’re doing a lot of solid planning. When you look at the strategic sourcing initiative the Administrator of Federal Procu rement Policy Anne Rung has put in place, and many of the things that Federal CIO Tony Scott has put in place, you see great plans to implement the FITA R A law. It’s that combination of the legislative and executive branch working together that ensu res we don’t lose momentum throughout the transition period. This interview continues at carahsoft.com/innovation/one-on-one-powner ONE-ON-ONE WITH DAVID POWNER Executive Viewpoint GAO’s Director of Information Technology Management Issues describes his agency’s progress on infrastructure. SECURING THE ENTERPRISE SPONSORED CONTENT DAVID POWNER DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT ISSUES, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE (GAO) S-26
March and April 2016
June and July 2016