3 Goals Of White House 'Digital Government' Plan

Federal agencies required to make services available to mobile users within 12 months and to release more government data through Web APIs.
Top 14 Government Social Media Initiatives
Top 14 Government Social Media Initiatives
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The White House on Wednesday released a new "digital government" strategy, which gives federal agencies deadlines to release government data through APIs and make their services available to mobile devices, among other requirements.

Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel, in a blog post, described the strategy as an "information- and customer-centric approach to changing how the government works and delivers services." The strategy is meant to dovetail with other IT initiatives issued by the Office of Management and Budget over the past couple of years, including a 25-point IT reform plan released in December of 2010.

The digital government strategy, with quarterly deadlines over the next 12 months, has the backing of a presidential directive. "Ultimately, this strategy will ensure that agencies use emerging technologies to serve the public as effectively as possible," wrote President Obama.

The digital strategy has three broad objectives. They are to give citizens access to digital government information from a variety of devices, including mobile; to make it easier for federal employees to obtain mobile and other devices, applications, and data through improvements to the procurement process; and to spur innovation and service improvements through the release of government data in open, machine-readable formats.

[ Take a look at other government technology efforts. Read Pentagon CIO Talks Security, Mobility, Shared Services. ]

"Agencies will increasingly open up their valuable data to the public and set up developer pages to give external developers tools to build new services," wrote VanRoekel.

VanRoekel and Federal CTO Todd Park took the stage this week at TechCrunch's Disrupt conference in New York to announce the digital strategy, and to invite entrepreneurs to engage federal government through a new Presidential Innovation Fellows program that's tied to the strategy.

Starting in July, the feds are inviting innovators from academia and the private sector to collaborate with federal agencies in six-month sprints on five new initiatives. Those include MyGov, an effort to develop an "online footprint" between citizens and federal government, and Blue Button for America, a one-click Web application that would give people easier access to their healthcare information.

The digital strategy requires agencies to optimize at least two public-facing services for mobile use within 12 months, and it calls for government-wide security baselines for mobile and wireless technologies within that same period. More broadly, the digital strategy incorporates elements of a national mobility strategy that VanRoekel set as a goal in January.

Hacktivist and cybercriminal threats concern IT teams most, our first Federal Government Cybersecurity Survey reveals. Here's how they're fighting back. Also in the new, all-digital Top Federal IT Threats issue of InformationWeek Government: Why federal efforts to cut IT costs don't go far enough, and how the State Department is enhancing security. (Free registration required.)

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