IBM boss Sam Palmisano and other technology executives will urge top government officials today to take up a proposal that the techies say will shave $1 trillion off the nation’s budget deficit in the next decade.
The Technology CEO Council, which Palmisano chairs, plans to unveil its pitch in meetings with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers and Council of Economic Advisors Chairman Austan Goolsbee.
The executives will recommend that the federal government continue to standardize its information technology operations and, like private-sector success stories Google, Twitter and Facebook, store more of its data in off-site cloud-computing centers — a proposal that could slash $500 billion in spending by 2020.
“We thought it would be responsible to share our own experiences where we think savings might be found by the federal government across its own operations,” said Bruce Mehlman, a Republican lobbyist and Technology CEO Council executive director.
The group’s members also include top managers from Dell, Motorola and Intel.
In their new report — “One Trillion Reasons: How Commercial Best Practices to Maximize Productivity Can Save Taxpayer Money and Enhance Government Services” — the executives recommend that bureaucrats further centralize their buying operations.
They also claim that more efficient computer systems may cut $20 billion off of the executive branch’s energy bill in the next decade.
“The Federal government currently spends approximately $76 billion to support its widely-dispersed IT assets,” the report states. “We estimate that at least 20-30 percent of that spending could be eliminated by reducing IT overhead, consolidating data centers, eliminating redundant networks and standardizing applications.”
Consolidating the support and professional staffs and operations of the executive branch could save an additional $50 billion, the executives say.
The group also proposes tighter controls on such federal payments as tax refunds and health care reimbursements, more work-from-home programs for federal employees and better management of unused federal office space.
Not everyone is convinced that the ideas are doable.
Federal agencies are not corporate boardrooms, said Thom Rubel, an IDC Government Insights analyst. He said the executives may have valid arguments, but just because many of their suggestions have increased earnings in the private sector doesn’t mean they will be well-received by lawmakers.
“There’s a lot to be gained from focusing on what they’re saying — you’ve got some pretty good thought leadership here on some pretty good ideas,” Rubel said. “The real trick to all of this is, how do you implement policy to support this? ... That’s the hard part.”