OMB Releases the Federal IT Operating Plan to Guide Modernization

Published: June 15, 2022

Federal Market AnalysisGSAInformation TechnologyIT ReformOMB

The Federal IT Operating Plan provides direction for use of government-wide IT accounts to help agencies innovate, modernize and improve customer experience.

Last week, OMB in coordination with GSA released the Information Technology Operating Plan to maximize the impact of funds provided in the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF), the Information Technology Oversight and Reform account (ITOR), the Federal Citizen Services Fund (FCSF), and the United States Digital Service (USDS).

The article announcing the plan states, “By uniting behind an IT operating plan – enabled by an enterprise view – we can see what’s working, fill tech talent gaps, and help agencies course-correct while driving innovative ways of working and building modern service delivery into the public’s daily interactions with government.”

In the introduction section of the plan, Federal CIO Clare Martorana, states that OMB assembled the report to explain how it would ensure the “wise investment” and “highest use” of federal IT funding to create the “most impact for the American people.”

Martorana goes on to say, “We are at a unique moment in time to drive digital transformation across the federal enterprise. We can deploy technology that is secure by design, reduces costs for agencies, eliminates administrative burden for both customers and the federal workforce, delivers government services that meet modern expectations for the American people, and inspires the next generation to serve our great country.”

According to the plan, ITOR, TMF, and FCSF are key to enabling strategic-level execution of IT efforts and investments across federal agencies:

  • Information Technology Oversight and Reform (ITOR) Account - ITOR enables the federal government to achieve efficiency, effectiveness, and security across its IT investments, reduce cybersecurity risk, and implement innovative IT solutions.
  • Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) - The TMF allows agencies to access the capital needed to tackle IT modernization needed to keep up with the fast pace of changing technology.
  • Federal Citizen Services Fund (FCSF) - The FCSF enables public access and engagement with the federal government through an array of both public and agency-facing cross-government shared services and programs.

The four key priorities of the unified IT operating plan are as follows:

  • Cybersecurity
  • IT Modernization
  • Digital-First Customer Experience
  • Data as a Strategic Asset

The plan goes on to say that the foundation for sustainably developing, maintaining, and advancing technical systems requires:

  • Technical experts within the government
  • Shared digital services, products, infrastructure, and channels
  • Strong, well-managed relationships with industry

The report presents two case studies showing the successful use of ITOR, TMF, and FCSF funds. In 2015, GSA and USDS created the U.S. Web Design System (USWDS) using initial funding from FCSF and ITOR. USWDS helps agencies build high-quality websites that serve user needs while also conforming to industry best practices, and relevant policies and laws. In 2017, GSA and USDS used all three funds to create, which provides federal agencies a method to offer the public a secure single-user account and identity verification process.

The plan lists the strengths of each funding account and strategies for each moving forward.

ITOR Strategy:

  • Improve the government’s base of technical talent
  • Coordinate across the technology ecosystem
  • Advance cybersecurity
  • Align budget requests

TMF Strategy:

  • Gather IT modernization performance data and best practices
  • Identify possibilities for new shared services
  • Conduct enhanced readiness assessments to ensure agencies are equipped for success
  • Demonstrate an effective model of technology investment

FCSF Strategy:

  • Scale-up and modernize existing and essential high-impact government-wide priority initiatives 
  • Improve existing shared services 
  • Integrate with the TMF and OMB to inform the priorities and direction for FCSF-funded shared services and activities

As federal agencies continue their digital modernization and implement the IT Operating Plan, IT contractors will likely find opportunities to assist with modernization efforts such as app development to improve the customer experience and provide self-service, IT infrastructure upgrades, data interoperability efforts, workforce training and upskilling, and bolstering agencies’ cybersecurity posture.