Federal CIO Announces PortfolioStat 2.0

PortfolioStat program outlines best practices for agencies to reduce IT spending.
Defense Tech: 20 War-Fighting Innovations
Military Transformers: 20 Innovative Defense Technologies
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The White House this week began overhauling its IT portfolio reviews as part of an ongoing effort to reduce spending by federal agencies.

Last March, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) launched a program called PortfolioStat, which conducted sessions with agencies to examine where they were spending money on IT. Through those sessions, OMB identified more than $2.5 billion in spending reductions that could be achieved from fiscal years 2013 through 2015.

Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel and acting director Jeff Zients announced the second round of PortfolioStat in a memo issued on Wednesday to the heads of executive departments and agencies. The memo noted some much-needed improvements based on evidence that "many agencies are managing IT in a decentralized manner." Going forward, PortfolioStat sessions will focus on getting agencies to adopt best practices identified in the memo, including:

-- Empowering agency CIOs and giving them more authority over IT governance, commodity IT systems, information security and oversight of IT program management.

-- Controlling spending through investment review boards (IRBs) to enable more effective IT portfolio management.

-- Eliminating duplication and cutting costs by offering technology "as-a-service," instead of focusing only on closing duplicative data centers.

[ Security concerns lead to ban on Chinese IT purchases for some government agencies. Read more at Congress Curtails Government IT Purchases From China. ]

"A key lesson learned is that agencies should evolve their IT portfolios to deliver IT 'as a service.' Unlike traditional capital models where assets are purchased for individual projects, the service delivery model entails agencies deploying their IT like a business, optimizing it for consumption agency-wide," said VanRoekel in a blog post on He cited cloud computing as an example of a "scalable and transparent" way for agencies to provide IT services.

The memo offered a list of improvements that would help agencies meet those goals. One of them is using data centers that are most important to delivering services, while shutting down inefficient ones. The plan is to close 40% of the federal government's data centers by 2015. As of this February, agencies have managed to shut down 420 data centers.

OMB is also consolidating the number of reports that CIOs had to previously issue into three channels: IRM strategic plans, enterprise roadmap, and integrated data collection.

VanRoekel said agencies are expected to report savings of approximately $300 million by the end of March, based on results from last year's PortfolioStat. "We are committed to continuing PortfolioStat to drive further management improvements, save billions of dollars across the federal government, and improve services to Americans through the use of technology," he said.

A well-defended perimeter is only half the battle in securing the government's IT environments. Agencies must also protect their most valuable data. Also in the new, all-digital Secure The Data Center issue of InformationWeek Government: The White House's gun control efforts are at risk of failure because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' outdated Firearms Tracing System is in need of an upgrade. (Free registration required.)