GCIO Focus: Prioritization Key to American Technology Council's Plan to Modernize Government IT

Throughout the plan, there is a strong emphasis on prioritizing investment.

The White House's American Technology Council last month announced it's plan for federal IT modernization. Leaders of that report outlined how to increase commercial technologies adopted by federal agencies and how to faster modernize the government's digital infrastructure.

In the past, government efforts to accelerate modernization ran into familiar roadblocks. Past efforts struggled to execute on collaboration and information sharing; outdated or over-burdensome policies and procedures; organizational politics; and human capital issues.

Throughout the plan, there is a strong emphasis on prioritizing investment and resources centered around business drivers and citizen services. Specifically, the plan calls for agencies to:

  • Prioritize modernization for federal agency assets providing services directly to taxpayers
  • Realign IT resources using “business-focused, data-driven analysis”
  • To make sustained measurable progress, it is necessary to establish a prioritization process to meet these two priorities.

At GovernmentCIO, we leverage our capability framework to do this. It measures the impact different capabilities will have on achieving federal agency objectives. Drawing upon this type of proprietary framework delivers the following benefits:

  • Provides a fact-based method for identifying strengths and weaknesses of capabilities
  • Neutralizes internal politics because it is capability agnostic
  • Assists in helping the organization understand the dimensions that drive investment and prioritization decisions
  • Helps identify gaps that limit the organization’s ability to achieve its goals
  • Evaluate the risks associated with the prioritization of capabilities


Over time, we have seen many unsuccessful attempts to modernize technology and processes in government. Some have attributed these struggles to the government focusing too much on “what” needs to be done and not enough focus on establishing “how” it will get done. There is certainly a need for much more work on “how” to accomplish the objectives of modernization, but as the plan points out, not at the expense of focusing on properly prioritizing and delivering against business objectives and the services citizens need.

Read Mark's first column here.

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