CIO Council identifying governmentwide areas for IT modernization

CIOs have showed they're willing to cut through bureaucratic red tape during the pandemic, if it means streamlining IT services, said the deputy Federal CIO.
Maria Roat
Maria Roat speaks Dec. 4, 2018, at the Public Sector Innovation Summit presented by VMware and produced by FedScoop and StateScoop. (Scoop News Group)

The Federal CIO Council has identified several IT areas that could be modernized governmentwide with proper investment, said Deputy Federal CIO Maria Roat.

Specifically, the council is considering where reusable technology and microservices can be funded, as well as how authentication and identity management capabilities might be expanded. Any recommendations ultimately will take multiple parties to implement because the council is an advisory body without a budget.

The council also wants improvements to data-sharing protocols, particularly for systems like HHS Protect that are gathering data from hundreds of datasets in near real time to inform the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s pandemic response.

“Improving the consistency and clarity of results delivered through dashboards, project transparency, mission stories — they demonstrate value,” Roat said, during Nutanix‘s Cloud Together Virtual Summit produced by FedScoop. “And a faster path to maturing data-sharing protocols, especially where data is frequently updated and incorporated into decision-making models, is an area where we really need to focus as a federal government.”


Both the council — which currently has 29 members — and the Federal Data Strategy team would be stakeholders in any effort to expedite data sharing. The council’s broader, more strategic goals could require policy changes from the Office of Management and Budget or possibly Congress.

The council began flagging areas for potential investment in May, and agencies continue to make pandemic-driven investments in data from the cloud to advanced analytics and machine learningCIOs have shown they’re willing to get rid of “bureaucratic red tape” if it means streamlining processes like data sharing, Roat said.

Interoperability is improving, and the cloud is helping agencies collect terabytes of data without spending on hardware. Government can’t afford for the IT modernization happening during the pandemic to slow down, Roat said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs‘ Video Connect tool saw about a 1,000% increase in video visits to veterans’ homes, as did monthly telehealth visits between January and June.

Meanwhile State Department employees logged about 1 million meeting minutes on Cisco Webex by the end of March and made more than 60 internal apps, including those for human resources and training, web accessible to all employees worldwide.


The Department of Health and Human Services created the HHS Protect system pulling from 187 datasets to inform the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s response.

And the Department of Defense deployed its Commercial Virtual Remote work environment, a Microsoft Teams cloud-based collaboration suite, in under 60 days for 3 million personnel and affiliates to use.

“The pandemic highlighted just how fast we can push technology solutions and cut through those cumbersome and bureaucratic procedures,” Roat said. “The momentum needs to be sustained, and I challenge each of you to build on these successes and continue to drive innovation and break through those internal barriers.”

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