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Amid ongoing political debate over federal spending, it's difficult to know if the United States is entering a period of government austerity or one of additional spending aimed at boosting the economy. Either way, one thing is clear: The only way the federal government can deliver improved services, on the scale required, is by leveraging its huge investments in IT more effectively. The Office of Management and Budget is pushing a series of initiatives with that goal in mind.
To gauge how federal IT teams are managing OMB's mandates and the many other projects on their plates, InformationWeek conducted our third annual Federal Government IT Priorities Survey, which was completed in July by 131 federal IT pros. We asked survey respondents to rate the importance of two dozen technology initiatives, identify the factors driving their priorities, and assess barriers to execution.
They rank IT security and cybersecurity No. 1 by a wide margin. That's consistent with last year's survey and reflects the harsh reality of ever-present threats, both internal (such as the Department of State's leaked diplomatic cables) and external (the cyberattack known as Operation Shady RAT).
Data center consolidation moved up on the priority list, while the White House's Open Government Initiative moved down. Here, too, the shifts have a pragmatic explanation: Federal IT teams are under the gun to close data centers in compliance with a plan being closely monitored by OMB. Meanwhile, their first- and second-round open government projects have already passed muster, so that work is less urgent.
This year, for the first time, we asked survey respondents to rate the importance of smartphones and mobile applications. Surprisingly, both ended up well down the priority list. Perhaps this is because employees are bringing their own mobile devices and apps to the office, with or without the approval of IT. There should be no doubt, however, that this trend has policy and security implications that federal IT managers can't ignore.
Our survey revealed gaps between a few key government-wide initiatives and respondents' awareness of them. More than half of respondents were unfamiliar with OMB's TechStat project review program, and nearly half were unaware of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's requirements around continuous-monitoring systems. This report examines those and many other issues that came to light in the survey results.