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Congress

White House IT Official Says Tech Key to Streamlining Government, Saving Money

April 3, 2012

The Obama administration has started to close the gap between businesses and government in productivity, skills, and technology, federal chief information officer Steve VanRoekel said on Tuesday.

Using an overhead projector to illustrate how far technology has advanced, VanRoekel told an audience at an information technology conference in Washington that budget woes have forced the government to seek an innovative culture.

Traditionally, businesses have used resources from existing or older programs to fuel new projects, he said. Government, on the other hand, often either can't or won't give up older programs. In order to develop new programs, government agencies have often simply increased their spending. Those days are over, VanRoekel said.

"This is a model that hasn't worked," he said. "We need to innovate with less."

Since President Obama took office in 2009, the federal IT budget has flatlined, according to VanRoekel. What would have been a $103 billion budget if past spending had continued is now closer to $80 billion, he said.

That has forced officials to seek technology that will not only improve services, but save money. Government agencies are turning to cloud computing and mobile devices to allow services to be shared among offices. The Department of Agriculture, for example, combined 21 different e-mail systems into one, which significantly lowered costs, VanRoekel said.

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