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Federal CIO’s Three Priorities for the IT Community

Clare Martorana wants to focus on cybersecurity, technology modernization and improved services to the American public.

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Federal CIO Clare Martorana has set three long-term priorities for the Office of Management and Budget and overall federal IT community centered around cybersecurity, ongoing IT modernization and service delivery to the public.

Amid recent and significant cybersecurity incidents this past year — including the SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange hacks — cybersecurity is a “first immediate priority” in this community.

“[Cybersecurity] is a national priority, and it’s a team sport,” Martorana said during a FedScoop event last week. “I’m committed to ensuring every agency is ready for today’s threats. The cyber executive order put us on a really good path to faster incident response and stronger protective measures. By working rapidly and seamlessly, we can achieve results, and we must. Our adversaries are on the move, and they are aggressive.”

In the second area of modernizing federal IT, Martorana said she wants faster adoption of modern technology and cloud infrastructure to improve agencies’ overall mission and work.

One key way to do this is by strengthening the Technology Modernization Fund, which received a major $1 billion boost in funding from the American Rescue Plan this year to help agencies improve modernization and cybersecurity efforts. Despite the increase the ARP gave the TMF from the total $175 million allocated to TMF from annual budgeting, Martorana said that the ARP’s $1 billion was simply a “down payment” for multi-year federal IT modernization.

“The TMF board has received over 100 proposals for projects totaling over $2 billion since the rollout of the funding provided in March in the American Rescue Plan,” Martorana added.

The TMF has seen significant Congressional approval over the course of the past year and a half during the pandemic.

“Departments and agencies [are] going to get the funds up front to get new modernized systems,” said Rep. Jim Langevin during the event. “But then, as part of this modernization effort to save money, they’ve got to pay back this when they realize that cost saving. They pay that back to the Technology Modernization Fund, so the program to almost self-fund, if you will, and for other areas of government to continue to modernize.”

Beyond TMF, the federal CIO office is focusing on improving service delivery to the public. Martorana envisioned that this third priority will involve leveraging data to improve customer experience, as well as adopting technologies that will reduce administrative burden so that federal employees can focus on serving the public.

“It’s not our citizens’ job to figure out how to navigate across department and agency silos to get the services they deserve,” Martorana said. “That’s our job. With agencies transitioning to a product mindset, organizing around users, we can deliver modern, efficient tools and technology, reduce administrative burden and spend more time on high-value services to the public.”

To realize these three goals, Martorana said that she plans to strengthen collaboration across the federal IT community and continue the development of playbooks to establish best practices, build on them and share them across agencies.

Martorana added that she also wants to collaborate more frequently with key stakeholders, such as the oversight community, to focus on audits of current federal IT rather than those of years past, so that federal IT leaders can build on present progress and challenges instead of previous ones. She also highlighted that she wants to cooperate with policymakers to weave technology into rules and regulations.

“We’re pairing technologists with our policy experts at the beginning of the process, and working with our colleagues across OMB, we will be able to develop innovative technology solutions within our laws, rules and regulations,” Martorana said. “Our job is to ensure policies and guidance documents will find success when they reach the agency level.”

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