Federal CTO Wants to Speed Up Government, Health Care Procurement IT

Aneesh Chopra, making his first public Silicon Valley visit, acknowledges that large sections of the federal government's IT are probably 15 to 20 years out of date, but he also reports that certain pockets are well-equipped and working productively at this time.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.-Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra made his first visit to Silicon Valley Aug. 4 and said he generally wants to speed up the pace of IT innovation and, in particular, new IT procurement and deployment-not only in the government, but also in health care and education.Chopra, selected in May by President Barack Obama, also said he'd like to help promote the creation of thousands of new jobs, mainly through government initiatives that support upgrading IT in health care, education and local government that will trickle down to help bolster the sluggish economy.

Chopra said one of his most important agenda items is to transform the federal government's long-entrenched culture of slow-moving product and service updates, due mostly to antiquated procurement rules and regulations.

Speaking to a Churchill Club audience of about 350 at the Computer History Museum here, Chopra acknowledged that large sections of the federal government's IT are probably 15 to 20 years out of date, but he also reported that certain pockets are well-equipped and working productively at this time.
"We want to encourage innovation to the extent we can, but we also realize it's not the easiest thing in the world to bring those innovations to the federal government," Chopra said. "How many of you had tried to respond to an RFP [request for proposal] with 5,000 detailed requirements? When you do, your intervention could be done with pennies on the dollar. This is the challenge we're confronting in the 'right now.' "
Chopra said he and U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra, who worked together in Virginia state government before moving to Washington, have been meeting regularly to align their agendas. Kundra, who was named to his position in March, is the first federal CIO.
"Vivek and I are going through a litany of open government platforms-rules that we can provision-so that it will be as easy for federal agencies to consume [new IT hardware, software and services] as it is for you and me to open a Facebook account, a Twitter account or you name it," Chopra said.
"If it's this easy to consume [IT and Web services] in our personal lives, it should be just as easy to consume them in our professional lives."

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...