Gary Danoff | Another View: The future is now

Gary Danoff

Fast forward 10 years: Imagine CIOs 'buying' agency service-level agreements from the prevalent IT utility of the day'the Federal IT Grid. Instead of developing and managing individual agency financial, HR and even some agency-specific, citizen-focused systems, civilian agency CIOs shepherd the process between Grid providers and users to ensure that the agreed-to service levels are provided at a fair cost.

The idea isn't that revolutionary. It is the evolution of Office of Management and Budget's Centers of Excellence and Lines of Business. In fact, the Federal IT Grid could unify OMB initiatives with the GSA Infrastructure Optimization Initiative and promote greater efficiency between them. If there is anything revolutionary about the Grid, it is the positive change it could bring to the budgeting process and the pooling of funds to buy more services.

The role of CIOs in the budgeting process would likely change. Instead of gathering or writing OMB 300 business cases, CIOs would collect and then express agency IT business system requirements to OMB through business architects. These architects would be charged with delivering governmentwide horizontal services over the Grid and would work closely with CIOs, freeing them to do more of what the Clinger-Cohen Act intended in creating their position. That is, manage information, people and processes related to the functioning of the civilian agency they serve.

Now come back to the present: It is happening today! Apart from the change in the budgeting component, the Defense Department, through the Global Information Grid, essentially provides a metered Grid service today and saves DOD money by doing so. Charge-back mechanisms exist, and we all know the money is being spent.

Civilian agency CIOs who have the energy and vision to stay abreast of these and other trends'including the shift from government workers to IT contractors'will be in the best position to shape policy, and perhaps laws, that mandate use of a Federal IT Grid in the future.

Editor's Note: For an expanded version of this look ahead, go to www.GCN.com, and enter 705 in the GCN.com/search.

Gary Danoff is manager of Innovative Solutions for Network Appliance Federal Systems Inc. (gary.danoff@netapp.com).

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