Star Wars Was Rubbish?

Am I the only one that found that The Force Awakens sent me to sleep? It’s a 38-year-old retread of the first movie – which my kids tell me is the fourth film. It’s not just Luke that lacks luster, 007 shot blanks in Spectre – am I the only one that kept expecting Dr. Evil to put in a cameo? Austin Powers cheering from the front row – shagerific, baby…

They say that art is a mirror to our society. It’s time to stop looking backward – to move past yesterday’s successes. They inhibit our progress. As we consider our New Year’s resolutions, I’m asking for new ideas, new thinking. Yes, we’ll have some flops, but repeating yesterday’s behaviors and expecting different outcomes won’t work. That’s as true in government IT as in Hollywood as in life.

As Tony Scott tells us – yesterday’s IT is strangling Uncle Sam’s ability to make progress. The bad Darth Vader’s the only fella who’d champion 80 percent of our IT budget on geriatric systems. Three big plays to watch this year.

First, FITARA – the program’s getting teeth. We need to watch for sneaky language in the omnibus approps bill that introduces an exception for Energy Labs. This is The Empire Strikes Back – if we introduce the ability for one agency to opt out, the force will weaken and others will soon follow. Join us on March 30th for the FITARA Forum at the Newseum. Congressmen, OMB, GSA, and lots of CIOs.

Second, the Hill’s Bring Out Your Dead program – I know there’s no Monty Python in Star Wars or Bond, but let’s stay with the movie moniker. On December 22nd the House and Senate – Oversight and Government Reform and Homeland Security and Government Affairs – sent a letter to all 24 CFO agencies looking to get a census of IT systems past the sell-by date. The Hill wants information on systems, hardware, software – as well as agencies plans to pull the plug on these systems, with dates. Agencies owe their responses by January 29th – and rumor has it Oversight and Government Reform will host a joint legacy IT transition and FITARA hearing in the spring. If agencies get real about answering this data call – and we’ve seen these plays fail in the past – this could be a critical pivot point in Federal IT transformation. Does Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, have the fortitude to make this stick?

Third, there’s FedRAMP – seems it’s been around so long it’s a silent movie. FedRAMP’s pivotal in empowering Feds to get off their legacy base. But, thus far, despite huge lines to get in, the do-once-use-many cloud security program’s proved a massive bust at the box office. But wait, there’s a new Jedi heroine at GSA – Phaedra Chrousos, the associate administrator. She’s talking about radically revamping FedRAMP. The question, how? Everybody in Federal IT’s excited about this sequel – let’s call it FedRAMP 2.0.

And, keep an eye out for the new script. The FedRAMP Fast Forward group, an industry group in which MeriTalk participates, will release the Fix FedRAMP paper on January 25th. Based on conversations with industry and government, Fix FedRAMP puts forward six recommendations on how to get from disaster to master. Never fear, it won’t be more of the same – it’s all about new. Mark your calendar for the Congressional Cloud Computing Caucus meeting focused on Fix FedRAMP taking place on the Hill March 3rd. Register early – it’ll be harder to get tickets than it was to see the new Star Wars premiere. And, we guarantee a better plot and acting.

I took advantage of the downtime over the holidays to clear out my closet – finally letting go of those 80s glad rags – and to read a couple of books in areas I didn’t understand. That’s MeriTalk’s new year’s resolution – out with the old.

As I walked out of Star Wars, I saw the promotion for Creed – that’s Rocky 25. How many rounds can we fight with the past? Let’s go for different in 2016. And, may the cloud be with you.

Steve O'Keeffe
About Steve O'Keeffe
The most connected executive in the government technology community – O'Keeffe is an accomplished entrepreneur and tech-policy expert, with 30 years’ experience as an innovator at the crossroads of government and industry. He founded MeriTalk, O'Keeffe & Company, 300Brand, among other entities. O'Keeffe is a fixture on the Hill, in both the House and Senate, testifying on IT, budget, government workforce, and the requirement to modernize government IT to enhance outcomes for the American people and government employees. He is a champion for change, simplification, transparency, and clear communication of IT value without jargon. A committed philanthropist, O'Keeffe has served for 15 years on the USO-Metro Board of Directors – Vice Chairman of the Board and Chair of the Annual Awards Dinner. He started his career as a journalist – O'Keeffe has contributed to The Economist, Government Executive, Signal Magazine, The Washington Post, and, of course, MeriTalk.