Center for Government Interoperability - Gov Ideas
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Center for Government Interoperability

Center for Government Interoperability

Center for Government Interoperability - Government Ideas

Our drive and passion is to help government save money and become more efficient through sharing software and collaboration

CFGIO is a nonprofit entity that is responsible for building the system of the same name. There are thousands of struggling city and county governments that could receive budget relief immediately through CFGIO. CFGIO's intention is to provide financial relief to cash starved government organizations as soon is possible through several programs including its marketplace system which produces low cost, integrated software applications for managing their organizations.

Team members
  • Andrew Oliver
  • Beryl Bellman, Ph.D.
  • Dave Bell
  • Ken Huang
  • Dustin Haisler
  • Jeffrey Walker
  • Michael Asner
  • Russell Reinsch
  • Robert D. Summers Jr.
  • Sylvia M. Webb
  • Marcus Kunde
  • Sid Burgess
  • Jenna Deuchler
  • Werner Willeke
  • Timothy Axell
  • Jonathan Hughes
  • Charlie Wang
  • Yogananda Karra
  • Crilly Butler
  • Voice over PowerPoint presentation describing the App Marketplace Bidding System
  • Become part of the Center's core team. Join via by going here Center for Government Interoperability and clicking on "join" or "sign up" at the top. Introduce yourself and help make government excel at serving its citizens.
  • Discussion group for government organizations. Register at this site and join our government discussion group.
  • Discussion group for private industry vendors and software developers. Join our group.
  • Private industry vendors and software developers' web and information site. Check out the vendor information and discuss topics with CFGIO and other software developers at our vendor discussion group above.

Marketplace and SaaS Programs

The Marketplace Bidding System is one of several of the Center’s programs. Its mission is to build a government cloud the right way, reducing IT budget costs and promoting business application interoperability to make government run better.

The Marketplace drives inefficiencies out of government by centralizing business software so that all government can share it. The centralization process uses market forces to promote government interoperability and reduce expenses. Its creation fills a missing piece in government by providing governance for the design and creation of centralized interoperable software systems.

The value of the Center for Government Interoperability is in the new framework it introduces that incentivizes private industry to integrate government data instead of building silo systems. It has the potential to quickly integrate all of government at every level across state and federal boundaries.

CFGIO centralizes software applications by bringing together vendors and government agencies into an eBay type marketplace where vendors compete to offer the best deal on the best integrated, open source software applications for a particular application, for example, asset management.

Government bidders collectively purchase the application so that the cost of the centralized software is shared by many government organizations and expenses are greatly reduced.

CFGIO coordinates the design and implementation of all of the shared applications to ensure optimized statewide and nationwide interoperability. CFGIO not only reduces costs through group purchases, it also does the software integration work for all government agencies that would otherwise independently consume resources integrating their systems.

In addition, CFGIO creates a new business model that gives private industry incentives to design government interoperability more extensively than before

The combination of these three advantages constitutes major benefits in terms of savings and better government services.

  1. Group software purchases: Result in substantial cost savings
  2. Integration of all business software purchases: Creates government-wide interoperability
  3. New government/private-industry partnership model: Creates a government innovation engine

What makes the concept technically feasible are characteristics unique to software programs. Software can be written once and shared with an infinite number of federal and state clients at little additional expense beyond original development cost.

The Center for Government Interoperability's intention is to provide financial relief to cash starved government organizations by providing them with shared, low cost, integrated software applications for managing their organizations

CFGIO-initiated cost savings are viable because there are thousands software applications which only require one centralized version in order to be shared by many government agencies. For example, one inventory system could serve all U.S. cities. If many of the cities share the expense of the one single shared version, costs are dramatically reduced. Savings increase geometrically because one software application can serve hundreds of government entities. The more government organizations purchase the shared software, the less they each have to pay.

All of the shared computer business systems would be consolidated in one place (logically, not necessarily physically) and designed to be interoperable. This is a much higher level of integration than if the systems were shared but hosted by separate departments. Those departments not wishing to use centralized servers could elect to install the shared software on their own servers and still benefit from the integration designed into the programming code.

The concept that makes it easy for government to use is an eBay type interface managed by a centralized service agency, the Center for Government Interoperability, with additional features such as being able to test software offerings in an integrated environment and collectively discuss it within forums that are coupled with product offerings.

Because applications are consolidated into centralized databases, a substantial amount of effort is avoided that would otherwise be spent organizing government interoperability through traditional means such as enterprise architecture and service oriented architecture.

This is a self-funding model. By self-funding, I mean that there are a large number of government organizations that need the exact same software applications and they can collectively predetermine what purchasing power they have for software using the new agency as a broker and purchase it without the new agency using any funds of its own. For example, there are 18,000 cities in the U.S. that need inventory management or project portfolio management software. When enough of them agree (made simple by the eBay-like interface but with additional features such as voting mechanisms) to collectively test and pay for inventory software, vendors can create systems easily tested and collectively discussed by government clients (made simple by the centralized testing and digital forum environment).

Collaborative testing and purchasing of government software systems becomes as easy as clicking a mouse

In effect, the eBay-like testing and discussion environment make collaborative testing and purchasing of software applications as simple as buying an item off eBay. When enough clients agree to purchase a software application, funding is approved. Funding is transparent and market driven. Integrating government services is vastly speeded up. Much faster than the single project at a time method currently used that requires many months of meetings, planning and new communications arrangements established for each project.

Economic concepts in this system reverse the paradigm of having one vendor selling multiple licensed copies to individual government agencies, and instead government has vendors compete to bid on a single open source system but with infinite possibilities to add new features to it.

Open Source

CFGIO's software offerings to government are open source. Both open source organizations and private industry vendors offer systems through the Center. Private industry vendors are paid to create products that are converted into open source applications. Open source is a very pragmatic way of evolving software in a rapidly changing environment. It harnesses the collective wisdom, experiences, expertise and requirements of its most demanding users to ensure that their needs are rapidly met. Open source gives government clients the opportunity to innovate and add value to their organizations without the problems faced with the traditional software products. The Center will host the open source software. This means that the Center will run the open source applications for government clients, who will not have to download and install the software themselves. This will lower costs for government and provide them with easy, web-based access.

Open source advantages

  • Reliability
  • Stability
  • Auditability
  • Cost
  • Flexibility and Freedom
  • Security
  • Support and Accountability

Non-technical Description of the CFGIO Model for Audience Not Familiar with IT Concepts

Business software can be thought of as a set of instructions that any computer programmer can create. A simplified analogy of government purchasing redundant business software would be if the city of Beverly Hills purchases instructions from lawn experts on how to take care of its municipal lawns: (1) water the lawn (2) mow the lawn. Los Angeles also redundantly purchases the same instructions (1) water the lawn (2) mow the lawn. Continuing this pattern for all U.S. government lawns results in all cities, counties, states and federal lawn managers redundantly paying for the exact same instructions from various lawn experts.

This type duplication is what government actually does when purchasing business software.

Government doesn't have a plan to comprehensively share software because up to this point, each department only looks out for its own needs.

The Center for Government Interoperability solution allows for government to collectively purchase the instructions by paying for a non-licensed copy only one time and sharing copies of it amongst paying government agencies.

In addition, the Center for Government Interoperability creates a nationwide marketplace and forum where all lawn experts sell new types of instructions regarding lawn management beyond watering and mowing such as energy management and biological sciences so that government lawns benefit from increasingly improved management processes that they didn't have before.

The new instructions are only paid for once, so in order to generate additional income from government, lawn experts must continually provide new instructions, thus making them innovating partners in improving government.

Government now has more funds to pay for new instructions due to the collective purchase of the single shared instructions, which are much cheaper than if they bought them individually.

Private industry will have a better chance of selling a much larger variety of projects including large new projects because the cost is now acceptable to government through its group purchasing power.

Building interoperability is a key goal of the Center for Government Interoperability, so as part of the CFGIO government development marketplace, lawn experts would put out for bid, proposals to create plans to integrate Beverly Hills and Los Angeles irrigation systems to optimize resources. This further improves the innovation and planning partnership between lawn experts and government. They are now working together to design the "big picture" type of strategic plan for government instead of the current situation where multiple lawn experts sell government the same stovepiped instructions without regard to enterprise-wide design. Companies from related disciplines such as water conservation management can participate with lawn experts in the national forums to build more interoperability.

CFGIO makes both the government and private industry more productive by creating an environment where they have incentives to plan innovation together.

In real life, software is much more universal than lawn care instructions, so there is no limit to what private industry/government partnerships can achieve once their creativity is channeled through the CFGIO model. Public employees and private enterprise have a nationwide forum where they can collectively design government IT systems that interoperate to give citizens greater value in all areas such as education, defense and transportation.

What is missing in today's environment is that government is not set up to give private industry incentives to consolidate and integrate government. The incentive is actually the reverse. The CFGIO model rectifies this to give private industry incentives and opportunities to improve government interoperability and integration.

The Center for Government Interoperability acts as a broker to bring vendors and government agencies together within a centralized marketplace

Government development marketplace

The sharable software concept is feasible because a single version can handle multiple government clients at little additional expense beyond the original cost

Below is the overview menu used by government to search and bid for solutions offered by vendors. It is also viewable by the public in order to increase transparency.

Development Marketplace

Hypothetical Data - actual data is located on marketplace page

Matching Vendor Solutions
with Government Needs

Solution List

Private sector vendors selling solutions or government entities sharing solutions Government clients looking for software solutions

Inventory Management

  • General documentation and forum
  • Expert technicians to help guide clients or vendors and answer questions
  • Government clients only discussion forum
  • Vendor, client and CFGIO Architect forum
  • Vendor guidelines


Vendors or government programmers offering products


Government clients voting to purchase so far

Project Portfolio Management

  • General documentation and forum
  • Expert technicians to help guide clients or vendors and answer questions
  • Government clients only discussion forum
  • Vendor, client and CFGIO Architect forum
  • Vendor guidelines


Vendors or government programmers offering products


Government clients voting to purchase so far




In the above chart on the right column, the counts of government entities interested in a particular solution indicate whether there is enough interest to collectively afford the vendor products

If a government client clicks on one of the above solution items, they will see a more detailed breakdown for that solution below

Inventory Management

5 Private sector vendors selling solutions or government entities sharing solutions

34 Government clients voting to purchase so far

General documentation

Expert technicians to help guide clients or vendors and answer questions

Government clients only, discussion forum including overall comparison of all vendor solutions (private)

Vendor, client and CFGIO Architect forum (public)

Vendor guidelines

All Center for Government Interoperability (CFGIO) software programs are designed to interoperate with most other systems in the CFGIO system. This means that portfolio management will be integrated to the full extent possible with inventory management, as well as any other CFGIO software. State and federal government can obtain summary totals of all their agencies' transactions.


Inventory Management


Government entities voting for this vendor's solution


No licensing fees. CFGIO will charge monthly maintenance fees which include nightly backups.


Savings increase geometrically because one software application can serve hundreds of government entities. When more organizations purchase software, the original purchasing organization gets reimbursed and the cost is further reduced.

EDD Solutions, Inc.

  • Overview of EDD's system
  • Test EDD's demo of their inventory management system
  • Review EDD's track record
  • Visit their web site
  • Detailed list of valuable integration opportunities with already existing other CFGIO systems
  • Government clients only, discussion forum (private)
  • Government/vendor discussion forum (public)

12 government clients interested so far.

Click here to have your government agency vote for this vendor's inventory management solution

  • Kansas City Schools
  • City of Lincoln Nebraska
  • North Dakota State Government
  • etc.

Vendor one-time fee: $2,530,221

Vendor yearly maintenance fee (five years of follow-up): $100,000

Cost per government entity if all entities agreed on a specific solution: $74,418.26

CFGIO monthly maintenance fee: $9 per gigabyte

Total one time savings for the current list of 34 interested government clients if they all selected this vendor (approximation) $43,013,757.00

Total repeating yearly savings for the current list of 34 interested government clients if they all selected this vendor (approximation) $1,700,000

Sinclair Integrators, Inc.

  • Overview of Sinclair Integrators' system
  • Test Sinclair Integrators demo of their inventory management system
  • Review Sinclair Integrators track record
  • Visit their web site
  • Detailed list of valuable integration opportunities with already existing other CFGIO systems
  • Government clients only, discussion forum (private)
  • Government/vendor discussion forum (public)

14 government clients interested so far.

Click here to have your government agency vote for this vendor's inventory management solution

  • City of Los Angeles California
  • City of Miami Florida
  • Oklahoma State Government
  • etc.

Vendor one-time fee: $1,800,000

Vendor yearly maintenance fee (five years of follow-up): $50,000

Cost per government entity if all entities agreed on a specific solution: $52,941.17

CFGIO monthly maintenance fee: $9 per gigabyte

Total one time savings for the current list of 34 interested government clients if they all selected this vendor (approximation) $30,600,000

Total repeating yearly savings for the current list of 34 interested government clients if they all selected this vendor (approximation) $850,000


Because of the the large number of government duplicate software purchases, the Center for Government Interoperability model has the potential to become one of most effective methods for reducing state and federal government IT costs

If used by multiple organizations, the Center for Government Interoperability takes government integration to a high financially efficient form.

CFGIO Is Business Driven

The strength of Center for Government Interoperability model is that it is business driven.

The government marketplace allows government agencies to collectively post their business system needs in a common forum. This results in private industry better understanding government's priorities. The government marketplace allows private industry to demo solutions that have not been thought of yet by government. This results in government getting a very large pool of solutions so that it can better design its vision for the future. A dialogue between government and developers occurs in CFGIO forums allowing refinement of government requirements and private industry's improved understanding of government requirements. Vendor product offerings that more accurately reflect government's needs can now populate the marketplace product listings resulting in a cycle of continual government business process improvement.

A government-wide, standardized menu for CFGIO acts as an non-IT person's map of business and IT systems so that government business executives can visualize government as a whole clearly enough to be full strategic planning partners with IT executives.

The standardized menu for all sharable applications is a perceptible governmental unifying point that centralizes collective self awareness and energizes the inter-operational vision.  It is the focal point for tying business processes together.  It works in the same way that Microsoft's desktop brings outside vendor products together into inter-operational compliance through a single unifying application and also allows diverse users to collectively use it.

It provides a uniform menu system that standardizes common government functions and terminology, and visually conceptualizes enterprise architecture so that business people become enterprise-wide designers with IT by giving business people a common experience, language and forum to connect with IT and each other statewide or federal wide.

Client Forums

CFGIO has several types of forums designed to focus collective wisdom on solving common problems.

  • Process improvement forums - Online forums coupled to each menu item and available for every single business process nationwide allow for maximum number of eyes to improve government. The forums become a digital, central meeting place that brings business people out of local, isolated business meetings and into statewide or nationwide collective process improvement meetings. Improved data interoperability brings opportunities to re-engineer business processes.
  • Specific project/vendor forums give government clients opportunities to communicate with the vendor building their applications. Online forums are especially effective for communicating multiple client requirements and suggestions to the vendor that they are working with.
  • General suggestion forums that allow vendors, clients and the public to collectively submit and discuss new ideas.

Center for Government Interoperability forums transcend the bureaucracy that traditionally blocks interagency cooperation.

Technical Perspective

All business processes are related.  Examples are procurement, personnel administration, ITIL, inventory management, portfolio management, change management, in short, everything.  They should be integrated throughout the enterprise, statewide or federal, but different government departments use different vendor products that don't interoperate.  Locking all government organizations into one private vendor's system to obtain interoperability is not an option. Government is best suited to integrate itself by building interoperability or telling vendors how to build components through enterprise design.  This integration concept is similar to how Microsoft mandates outside vendors to integrate into Microsoft's systems which allows applications to share functions and to make sure that that each new application doesn't interfere with existing ones.  Integration for Microsoft means interoperability so as not to have to reinvent screen drawing or disk access functions.  Microsoft doesn't leave interoperability up to the outside vendors; it closely manages all integration issues using its operating system as the unifying focus.  Government must do the same and view its business processes as an integrated, citizen oriented operating system.

It is intended that many applications be added to CFGIO by government and private industry developers.  Different views of the data will appropriately appear for different sectors of government, e.g., military, police, education, etc., while beneath the surface, the data is configured to interoperate government wide. 

A simplified example would be a project portfolio management application that would appear as a menu item on the Center for Government Interoperability system.  It would cost government less to build a single project portfolio management system that all state, city and county departments use, than to have all of the state's departments, cities and counties individually pay $200,000 for the system.  A centralized system could "roll up" subtotals for all cities, counties and state departments into summary statewide totals that individual, silo project portfolio systems could not if each entity bought their own version.  These summaries would be instantly available to the legislature, governor and state budget officials.  Instead of having hundreds of IT shops individually configuring project portfolio software into local organizations, there would need to be far fewer configuring the single, centralized one.  The local IT shop could concentrate on issues unique to their departments, counties or cities. City planners from all of the state's cities would use the same menu, business terms, and application functionality thereby allowing smarter design recommendations and mutual assistance through collective, statewide discussions in the Center for Government Interoperability forums. One centralized help desk could serve all city, county and state users.

Enabling Concept

The concept that makes it easy to create sharable software is that only one extra field per table record is needed to make it sharable.  For example, if an inventory system has these fields: item description, location and serial number, then all that's needed to make the table sharable for every government organization in the whole state is to add an organization_ID field to it.  This is a simplification, but it gives the general idea.  It keeps all of the data logically separate so that each governmental entity only sees data that pertains to it, but since all of the data is physically in one table, legislators, analysts and budget officials can obtain unfettered business intelligence from the database.

Government Integration Laboratory

A single testing area for the Center for Government Interoperability, a government integration laboratory, will allow government and private industry developers to set up trial versions of their software to see how it inter-operates with all currently existing systems.  The laboratory will be a mirror of the production version and allow clients to collectively test, compare and comment upon software from many vendors.  Example: a city environmental sustainability component can be simultaneously tested by city planners in every city in the state.  The city planners test the software in conjunction with all of their already-existing systems in the test area so that bugs and improvements are quickly identified. They can comment on how it inter-operates with the rest of their city business applications and send feedback to each other and the vendor within a secure online forum to guarantee that requirements are met.  For vendors, this means a level playing field where their products can be evaluated by all clients in a particular government sector.  A government integration laboratory means that all products can be thoroughly tested for seamless enterprise integration before merging with the production environment, thereby strengthening enterprise architecture with each purchase of a government application.  Otherwise without a Government Integration Laboratory, each new software build or purchase risks incomplete enterprise integration.

Example: Let's assume that all city police departments have a single, shared, vendor-neutral application for all business processes.  A new, private company brings a product to the market that can improve management of worker sick leave and vacation times so that human resources are automatically configured to handle police functions around the city during personnel absences.  The vendor introduces the product to the Center for Government Interoperability Laboratory by integrating it into the rest of the police management applications, where police managers from around the country test, comment and compare it with similar applications.  Because of the large number of reviewers, the depth of the review is improved and the ability to collectively discuss it on a secure government forum makes application testing much more productive and generates many more suggestions than if a single city was reviewing the software.  If the new application improves government's mission, then it can be added to the production version of the Center for Government Interoperability, which is composed of other modules that may have been written by different private or public developers. All cities' police departments benefit from the new software but only pay a fraction of the cost that they would have, had they bought it individually.

The Center for Government Interoperability Laboratory creates a unifying application for all government sharable business processes so that integration of new applications is built into government from the beginning and business stakeholders are brought into strategy planning from the beginning.

Project Origins

When private industry creates a business tool such as ITIL, many of the organization's components are identified and placed in a database.  Once the data is there, it is easy to create additional applications such as asset or portfolio management.  Because all of the government components are already in the application database, all they have to do is connect them together to make other applications available.  The natural result is that the application has done government's interoperability work for it and is integrated deeper and deeper into business areas where the whole government organization can be serviced by one vendor.  Many vendors compete to be The "One Big Integrator" of government.  The problems with this are (1) the different vendor products are not cross-departmentally inter-operational (2)  there is no continuity if a vendor goes out of business (3) government cannot allow itself to become locked into a single vendor product because it creates an uneven playing field for competing companies, creates the perception of government vulnerable to charges of being the vendor's hostage, and massive dependency on the vendor recreates the "too big to be allowed to fail" problem experienced during the 2008-2009 financial crises (4) government is redundantly paying for the same product each time an organization purchases it.  The Center for Government Interoperability was designed to resolve these conflicts by moving private industry vendors out of areas that are duplicative, and transforming them into strategic planning partners that more quickly and reliably improve government integration and productivity. This is a subtle but important distinction that has not been fully understood yet by many in government.

Private Industry Role

CFGIO is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create a for-profit marketplace for integrated, open source government software applications. For profit vendors will be able to sell their products on CFGIO’s system. Private industry plays a large role in the Center for Government Interoperability because it adds a critical extra set of eyes for improving government. Under the CFGIO model, the integration aspect of private industry solutions is emphasized. CFGIO redirects vendors from selling redundant tools into an environment where they compete to add new improvements that are aligned with government's enterprise-wide strategic plans. Government will own the systems and the open source licenses for them built by private industry. Vendors can add components to the system but cannot own them or have intellectual property rights. This allows vendors with good ideas to improve an already existing component that they didn't create. CFGIO shifts the focus away from silo creation. Instead of a race to lock government into a proprietary system, private industry will earn profits by finding new ways for government to think enterprise-wide and integrate its components. The CFGIO framework removes previous inefficiencies arising from government and private industry relationships and puts them both to work in the same productive direction. With its focus on system integration, private industry participation is indispensable to CFGIO's success because only it has the large number of analysts necessary to transform government into the public service center of excellence envisioned by CFGIO. Vendor revenue is derived from building, modifying, consulting, installing, servicing and maintaining their products, and on-boarding, servicing and training clients. Because vendors are allowed to provide demo solutions that government has not asked for or thought of or requested yet, they will have an effective method for obtaining nationwide visibility for their products and their companies. CFGIO vendor-suggested integration projects greatly increase government's opportunities.

Data Architects' Role

One of the most important strategies of the CFGIO is to have a strong department of data architects and data modelers. They are the ones primarily responsible for ensuring that all software components interoperate correctly. They keep the system from deteriorating as new components are added over time by reviewing enterprise opportunities during any change or addition to the system. They create long-term plans for how the system will grow, including interoperability with other government organizations. CFGIO data architects will oversee private industry and government software developers' projects. They will also standardize data sharing, data descriptions and taxonomies (data context) at a government-wide level.

They will model the data rigorously in order to keep enterprise integration perfectly aligned with business needs, and act as a rapid response team to changing business environments. They will work closely with vendors and government clients through the forums and a data governance council to maintain continual awareness of client requirements and translate business requirements into data models. Data architects will bring together the business process improvement side with the IT side to conduct performance reviews of, and consider reengineering, business processes. They will encourage business analysts to avoid assumptions and logic traps and instead to trace the chain of government business processes through layers of abstraction to determine if the organization's mission can be more optimally achieved.

As new systems are added, the data architects will maximize reuse of components and eliminate redundancy so that all systems work together in ways that increase operational agility and add new features for clients.

The Integration Laboratory helps data architects and stakeholders to look at actual integration ramifications of every new business project and every business system change within an enterprise-wide context.

Why Interoperability Is Important

Bidding systems currently exist such as GSA Advantage, DoD EMALL and FedBid that allow bidding or government auctions for products. A missing key component is interoperability with other products. Interoperability is often the main driver for government solutions in areas such as cross-agency coordination, business process reengineering, innovation and general efficiency. Many of government's largest problems are related to business software systems that are not integrated. Without continual interoperability updates, you cannot re-engineer your business processes; your IT systems hold your business process improvements hostage. The most important areas for interoperability planning are in national security and emergency preparedness. CFGIO was created as a result of the 911 Commission's report on lack of government interoperability. The Center can provide significant improvements in national security and emergency preparedness because it was designed from the ground up to build continually improved interoperability into government.

National Security and Emergency Preparedness

Because CFGIO brings many more outside analysts to help government focus on interoperability opportunities, the Center can significantly increase the amount of national security and preparedness analysis. The Center strongly focuses on interoperability building during project design and can provide leadership in that area through its software design methodologies that strengthen national defense.

How Nationwide Planning Is Enabled

CFGIO will generally allow only one software version of a government function, for example, county tax records processing. The single function limitation is not a limitation in capability because CFGIO's crowd-sourcing business model applies sustained innovation to the functions. Having only one version is how vendors and government developers working on related functions will know how to plan for integration with all other government functions. Without a single system for each function area, developers will never have a stable target with which to plan connectivity and integration. E.g., which county tax system will the state financial system hook up with? Who knows, there are so many of them. But with CFGIO, developers can count on there being a single, known connection opportunity for every area of government. This will enable nationwide planning.

Sustained Innovation Throughout All Areas Of Government

Vendors are allowed to demo systems in the CFGIO testing Lab that have not yet been requested or even thought of by government. These systems will be out there ready for any government client to test drive, integrated with models of government's existing systems so that clients can see how they interoperate inside their current environment. One reason for allowing vendors to build demos before they are solicited is so that government improvement suggestions are not limited to what government analysts can envision but instead can come from a far larger pool of analysts that have new innovative ideas that are easily proven through hands-on testing at the CFGIO Lab.

With permission to pre-build integrated solutions, vendors will strive to fill in missing interoperability throughout government so that the whole web of government is rapidly improved. These innovative solutions can be bid on and bought through the CFGIO collective purchasing system.

Pre-solicited demo solutions enable immediate responses to government business problems because CFGIO encourages vendors to quickly identify broken systems and build applications that compliment other systems instead of building competing silos. Other frameworks do not have such nationwide breadth and swiftness in addressing government's needs. What is new is that incentives are designed for private industry to comprehensively fill interoperability needs of government, not just one-off projects. Before CFGIO, interoperability planning has not been possible because systems were locked in individual agencies, but CFGIO will have a test model of all government that allows integrated systems planning and testing.

These already-built solutions are intended to be compared with other solutions for the same problem, side-by-side, on the same CFGIO testing Lab environment as all the other systems resulting in fast government-wide interoperability improvements.

Having pre-built solutions that vendors think of before government asks for them puts vendors to work with government business clients and developers quickly mapping out the target, "to-be" government architecture of the whole nation. The method is rapid because it greatly increases the number of developer visionaries evaluating and working on government problems as a whole and gives them the framework to do the job.

What happens currently without this method? Vendors try to contact each government agency one at a time in a haphazard approach to sell their siloed solutions. Government agencies only solicit solutions that they think of, isolated from the larger integration picture. However putting government clients behind the wheel drive-testing already built solutions in a convenient and integrated environment will let them get past bureaucratic roadblocks and focus on fulfilling core government missions. Even if individual government mangers are bound and determined to keep their systems as isolated silos in order to protect their turf at the expense of enterprise-wide efficiency, vendor apps at CFGIO will appear that point out to budget-conscious legislatures and governors, superior business processes and lower expenses from integrated demo systems.

The Center defines a new, sustainable framework that incentivizes private industry to make government systems talk to each other

When there are business requirements changes, the larger developer community can respond with demo-ready solutions for diverse projects through efficient rapid response teams. Citizens will get better service from government because CFGIO handles change faster and makes government more agile.

Government business side clients often can't visualize quantum leaps in process improvement resulting from proposed data interoperability until they can see the systems demoed. CFGIO Labs will put working demos out there that vendor and government developers have built. This will greatly improve requirements management. Requirements management, the most important success factor in any project, is greatly enhanced by CFGIO demo systems as it allows an iterative process to bring business requirements into focus. Clients can visualize vendor plans much better when using vendor demos, and can contribute to refinement of vendor understanding of the business.

CFGIO provides a new framework for government business clients to work together with vendors to produce sustained innovation throughout all areas of government.

Economist's Perspective

Government's requirements include integrated services for clients whose needs fall into cracks that lie between silo systems. Today's procurement systems cannot handle those integration needs. This creates a distorted market that can never satisfy demand.

CFGIO creates an efficient procurement market that addresses government's needs comprehensively by creating a framework that allows private industry to integrate government's systems.


The scope applies to common business applications because they all share data that can be easily connected but has not been because previously, there was no centralizing process.

Custom business applications that are unique to a government entity are not CFGIO's main focus, but could have connectivity to the Center for Government Interoperability if they have any table sharing potential at all. CFGIO's main focus is business software that has the potential to be shared by multiple agencies.

The Center for Government Interoperability does not apply to applications like networking software or hardware. These must be purchased because it's not efficient for government to build them.  It is not intended that government write its own server operating systems. 

The scope includes all United States government organizations: federal, state, city, county and tribal.

Scope Should Include Combined Federal and State Jurisdiction

Why not keep it simple and limit CFGIO's scope to a state, so that there is a CFGIO for each state?

  • Each system will be 50 times more expensive if CFGIO does not handle all states and federal government.
  • Having each state run its own CFGIO will create 50 new silo systems. Nationwide planning will be balkanized. Does Microsoft start a new corporation in each state to sell services? No, because it would fragment its planning capabilities. The same principle applies to CFGIO.
  • Planning and discussion forums will be severely impoverished due to lack of participation. Only the depth of a national audience is enough to bring out the best analysts willing to join discussions.
  • Starting small should not be confused with limiting scalability.

Creating only one version of CFGIO will best promote nationwide planning and leverage economies of scale.


Benefits of the Center for Government Interoperability are extensive.

  • All clients receive solutions at greatly reduced cost due to economies of scale.  For example, the smallest and poorest cities and counties receive the same top-class integrated management tools as the largest and richest ones.  All they need is an Internet connection.
  • More minds, that is vendor and government analysts, are put to work on improving a specific government component.  More solutions are offered per problem from more sources. Not just a few IT people, but the whole government becomes involved in process improvement and IT strategic goal planning.
  • More stakeholders are involved in testing, that is the whole state or federal government sector is testing the same new system, thereby providing much greater requirements-fulfillment reliability and generating higher quality feedback.
  • New capability for vendors and government analysts to actually see how their proposed systems interoperate with current systems.  This is automatic enterprise integration assurance.
  • Citizens receive better service from integrated government business processes.  For example, when a citizen who is an insurance agent, changes their address, they can update their information in one place and have drivers license, voting, and insurance agent license address updated automatically.
  • Problems are centralized and not duplicated.  Instead of isolated companies working on redundant isolated government entity problems, all companies work on a single version of the problem.  For example, a court document management system problem being worked on in San Francisco, should not be redundantly worked on in Los Angeles by a separate company on a separate system.  The problem only should be addressed once, in the Center for Government Interoperability that has the only centralized version.
  • The Center for Government Interoperability avoids an inherent problem that is the result of COTS (commercial off the shelf software), in that COTS prevents government from integrating itself.  COTS are silo oriented and do not have enterprise integration.  In the past, COTS were cheaper than build-your-own projects, but if the beneficiaries are multiplied statewide, then paying the vendor to integrate their solution with existing systems, or building your own, is cheaper.  The Center for Government Interoperability makes private industry work towards integration because it redirects private industry from selling silo systems, to integration compliance when selling their solutions.  The focus shifts from redundant solutions, to innovative solutions that haven't been conceived of before.  Continual improvement in enterprise integration is automatically built into the application acquisition process.  This strengthens the natural innovative forces of private industry, and channels private industry into a more productive model.
  • Small vendors have a level playing field within which to compete with large vendors because they can identify improvements relating to their specialty in a nonproprietary environment.
  • Weaknesses in one vendor's product that is installed in the Center for Government Interoperability can be resolved by a different entity than the vendor.  The result is that the Center for Government Interoperability consists of the strongest features from all developers.
  • Because of the larger number of shared enterprise architects involved in each implementation, and the reality that the implementation must truly work with everything before it's loaded into production, the Center for Government Interoperability constitutes a checkpoint to verify that a new system integrates into the current architecture.  The Center for Government Interoperability acts as a barrier to silo projects. Now for example, an attorney general's civil case database will talk to its criminal database. A state's licensing department's data becomes easily accessible to other outside state departments.
  • Faster discovery of solutions.  For example, if a government developer created a better international currency conversion tool, how would it normally get noticed?  Optimally, it would be become a discoverable SOA module and discovered by business analysts.  With the Center for Government Interoperability, this would also happen, but it could also be available as a human readable menu item that individual government financial analysts would see on the Center for Government Interoperability business menu and interface with directly.  This greatly speeds up discovery and expands the number of people finding this new functionality. It gives business people an understandable map of enterprise architecture.
  • Faster availability of new computer systems. When a new system is added to CFGIO, it becomes instantly available to all of government at the same same time. For example, if a new financial system is created, every government agency in the country can immediately begin using it.
  • Faster compliance with legislative mandates, security standards, and other government-wide policy.  For example, if the legislature mandated school districts to produce a new annual report, every school district would have the reporting software available to it from the centralized system, which would only have to be designed one time in one place. The school data would already be centralized in the Center for Government Interoperability and poised to create the reports with a minimal amount of effort.
  • Harmonization of data, business processes and, business terms used in human business processes.  For example, if different units of the same department, or different departments use different phrases to describe the same business concept, this could cause confusion.  The centralized menu could standardize the term.  If identical meaning terms were "cost allocation" and "distributed cost", stakeholders could agree to standardize on one of the terms and remove the other from business documents such as contracts and agreements processed in the Center for Government Interoperability and all other areas.
  • Simplified billing for shared applications.  Billing methodologies for shared expenses would only have to be worked out once and would be more easily standardized.
  • Business Intelligence.  Data warehouse creation would be greatly simplified through centralization of business data that the Center for Government Interoperability provides.
  • Better oversight over data, expenses, privacy and project development.  All of these areas benefit from centralizing business applications within the Center for Government Interoperability because data is in one place, connects to everything, and is efficiently configured for easy retrieval.
  • Consolidated help desk, regulatory compliance, data governance, oversight, security, operational recovery, SOA technical implementation assistance, all become available through centralization.  For example, due to economies of scale, a single help desk could be available 24 hours a day to assist cities with Center for Government Interoperability budget tools.

    Click image to see enlarged version of overview.

    overview of Government Integration System

    Components of Center for Government Interoperability

    The Center for Government Interoperability would contain various units such as a Service Desk, PMO, Finance, Contracts, Enterprise Architecture, Process Improvement and Quality Management but the following are the main components.

    • Government development marketplace establishes an eBay-style bidding system where government organizations can collectively bid on sharable software systems to incentivize innovation in government.
    • Universal Menu of common services creates an understandable map of the Center for Government Interoperability's applications by creating a common language so that business people become IT planning partners with enterprise architects. For example, all city planners see the same terms and functionality as other city planners, and they see the functions in an enterprise context allowing them to work closer with developers because the Universal Menu produces enterprise-wide visualization.
    • Forums are coupled to the Universal Menu items so that for example, all district attorneys in a state can collectively discuss improvements in automating evidence reports. Suggestions to create or update components can come from the public, private industry, government IT managers or business users to bring a confluence of government improvement ideas.
    • Developers can be from government or private industry. They add components to the system as directed by enterprise architects and test them in the Center for Government Interoperability Laboratory so that enterprise-wide interoperability is assured. Private industry is allowed to demo unsolicited solutions on CFGIO so that government benefits from unexpected and diverse innovation.
    • Government Integration Laboratory allows vendors to test interoperability of their systems with the rest of government, and government clients to collectively test the systems and offer improvements while the systems are being constructed.
    • Data architects oversee vendor construction to ensure that every system is fully integrated into all other systems. They continually review all systems to make sure data modeling is done correctly.

    Implementation Plan

    The Center for Government Interoperability is being created now. For updates contact us here:


    The benefits of creating this new agency are that it uses market forces to effectively focus collective software purchases towards building government interoperability and eliminating redundant software costs.

    It greatly simplifies and speeds up creation of services by making software available to all government entities at the same time whenever any application is first written.

    It increases the number of analysts, both in government and private industry, that work on process improvement by bringing them together in statewide and nationwide collaboration forums as part of an innovation engine.

    By incentivizing innovation, and coordinating purchasing and integration of software, the Center for Government Interoperability provides a new framework for sustained government improvement.

    Audio CFGIO PowerPoint presentation