Technology reforms give agencies a needed lift

Tuesday - 9/18/2012, 3:25am EDT

In Part 2 of Federal News Radio's special report, The Obama Impact: Evaluating the Last Four Years, we examine five of President Barack Obama's most important technology initiatives, rating each as effective (green), ineffective (red) or needs more progress (yellow). View the details of each initiative through our interactive dashboard.

Information Sharing
Health IT
IT Reform
  Open / Transparent Government   Cybersecurity

P resident Barack Obama came into the office using social media, carrying a Blackberry and talking about cybersecurity almost from day one of his administration.

The President named a "Federal Chief Information Officer" where other administrations refrained. The White House promoted the use of data and openness, and pushed agencies to name chief technology officers to promote innovation to improve citizen services.

Nearly every initiative depended on technology, and the Office of Management and Budget didn't mince words about what it saw as the poor state of federal IT.

In part 2 of Federal News Radio's special report, The Obama Impact: Evaluating the Last Four Years, we wondered if the administration has set itself up for universal success of its IT ideas.


Federal News Radio's Jason Miller's report on the cyber failings of the administrations and Congress

White House cyber checklist

President Obama made cybersecurity a national priority with a 60-day policy review and a White House speech in May 2009. He called the cyber threat "one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation." The President said the government and country were not as prepared as they needed to be and committed to treating networks and computers "as a strategic national asset. Protecting this infrastructure will be a national security priority. We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient. We will deter, prevent, detect, and defend against attacks and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage."

The President named Howard Schmidt to be the first cyber coordinator and a senior adviser. Schmidt also served on the National Economic Council.

But the administration's lofty talk and goals failed to materialize.

The White House and Senate failed to pass comprehensive cyber legislation, and the Obama administration is considering issuing a less potent executive order to try to improve the security of the critical infrastructure networks.

But it's more than just the failure to get a bill passed that led us to deem cybersecurity as ineffective.

Many of the administration's efforts to better secure federal networks or improve information sharing with the private sector fell short of expectations and actual results.

The White House and the Homeland Security Department took two years to require continuous monitoring. The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) has yet to be updated in law, and only parts of which are changed in regulation.

David Smith, the director of the cyber center for the Potomac Institute, said the administration issued a lot of 12-point plans and strategies, but there's still not a lot of action. He said agencies still are fighting among themselves and the White House cyber coordinator needs real clout.

Health IT

The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have achieved a number of accomplishments since the secretaries of both departments officially agreed on the goal of creating a common electronic health record (EHR) system.

Federal News Radio's Ruben Gomez's update on the integration of DoD and VA electronic health records