October 27, 2011 – Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel presented the first steps of a new architecture for the way government innovates and spends on technology during his first public speech since taking on the post two months ago.

Speaking to researchers at Xerox’s PARC facility in Palo Alto, Calif., VanRoekel presented his “Future First” initiative for federal IT planning, and invited feedback from attendees, as well as academia, government heads and industry leaders on its development. VanRoekel likened the venture to his predecessor’s “Cloud First” policy for government agency IT spending and planning. He pictured the “Future First” policy to prompt adoption of new tech and approaches, like a set of principles for XML, Web services and virtualization. He invited thoughts on the policy, particularly in areas of technological evolution, fostering competition and cost effectiveness.

“Going forward, we need to embrace modular development, build on open standards, and run our projects in lean startup mode. We also need to work with Congress to change our approach to funding technology to better support these principles,” VanRoekel said, according to a transcript of prepared remarks from Tuesday night. “Given the rapid pace of change in technology, it’s not enough to just build technology solutions that meet our needs today. We need to design for the future, not for the status quo.”


For a slide show of federal CIO priorities, click here.


In this same way, maturation of recent innovations such as the cloud, Web platforms and servers are already able to transform “every aspect of government,” VanRoekel said.

“[W]e’ve learned how to adapt our business models to take advantage of new technologies – agility, flexibility, scalability, and openness help even the largest organizations thrive despite the ever quickening pace of change,” he said.

Earlier in the speech, VanRoekel highlighted savings and reductions in duplicated services from the recently expanded data center review process and closures. Along with the “Future First” plans, the data center process is part of a parallel push to do more with less across the federal government, which is the largest buyer of IT.

VanRoekel, a former FCC CIO and executive at Microsoft, was picked by the Obama Administration in August to fill the role vacated by the inaugural federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, who took a fellowship at Harvard.

To send you ideas on the “Future First” initiative, email: futurefirst@cio.gov

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