VanRoekel Calls for Lean, “Future First” Federal IT Agenda

The nation’s new Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel unveiled on Tuesday his “Future First” agenda, which emphasized the need to change the way government procures software and sets policy:

In the end, we can’t build a 21st century government without fundamentally changing how we invest in technology.

Traditionally, it has taken years for an IT solution to move from planning to budgeting to procurement. Too often we have built closed, monolithic projects that are outdated or no longer needed by the time they launch. And because of how they are architected, modifying
these systems to meet emerging needs has often cost more than building a new system from scratch.

Going forward, we need to embrace modular development, build on open standards, and run our projects in lean startup mode.

VanRoekel’s predecessor, Vivek Kundra, the nation’s first CIO, began the adminstration’s work to leverage technology to cut costs and boost innovation through various programs. One of those was the government’s “Cloud First” strategy, arguing that a shift to a cloud-based infrastructure was key to cutting billions of dollars of federal IT sending, and now VanRoekel is using that model for his “Future First Strategy”: “Much as our “Cloud First” policy changed the landscape of IT spending, ‘Future First’ will jumpstart the government’s adoption of new technologies and approaches.” He explained, “I envision a set of principles like ‘XML First’, ‘Web Services First’, ‘Virtualize First’, and other ‘Firsts’ that will inform how we develop our government’s systems.” To devise those principles, he is convening a panel of experts from industry, government, and academia, and he is also calling on public input at

We’re excited to see these principles and this “Future First” agenda take shape. VanRoekel’s full remarks are available online (pdf).