When the Obama administration announced Thursday a 25-point plan to transform the way the federal government manages its information technology, it did so with an eye to the long term. However, on a number of key fronts, the Office of Management and Budget is directing the execution of a number of near-term action items within the next few months.
Some of those short-term plans grow out of work already being done under the banner of IT consolidation, including data center consolidation and cloud computing. The federal government is in the midst of a government-wide data center consolidation effort -- the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative -- and is beginning a more directed push toward cloud computing as part of the 2012 budget cycle.
The Office of Management and Budget has instructed each agency to designate, within the next six months, a dedicated senior data center consolidation program manager to lead the agency's data center consolidation initiative and develop a more detailed plan with verifiable milestones to reach agency data center reduction targets. In addition, the Federal CIO Council will launch a Data Center Consolidation Task Force that begin meeting monthly to review progress agency-by-agency and work to "ensure government-wide alignment between agency efforts."
In terms of cloud computing, OMB announced that, after more than an 18-month wait, the General Services Agency will finally make a common set of contract vehicles for infrastructure-as-a-service available within the next six months after completing security certification. Blanket purchase agreements were awarded in late October to several companies that will deliver services from Microsoft, Amazon, and others.
More broadly, OMB said that it will work with Congress to develop a more flexible funding model for "commodity" IT services like email, data center spending, content management systems, and Web infrastructure that will apply to inter-- and intra-agency services to help consolidate these systems into shared services.