Mimi Browning | Executive Suite: 2007 is a time to prepare for 2009

Mimi Browning

Barring any disasters, natural or political, the year 2007 promises to be an unremarkable one for the federal IT world, with the exception of a small Y2K-like glitch (more on that later).


An important perspective for 2007 is our ability to get positioned for change as we head toward a new administration in 2009. Between now and then, there will be few new program starts, increased congressional scrutiny of troubled programs and favorite earmarks, and the continued drumbeat for cost containment. IT managers can use the next two years to prepare for the future. Showtime for demonstrating the value of IT will be 2009, when new agency officials are sworn in and new programs, priorities and resources are better known. In the meantime, three key IT areas on which to focus are enterprise solutions, stewardship and leveraging IT to shape the future.


Enterprise IT solutions typically include data center consolidation, agency and inter-agency applications consolidation, and software licensing. These enterprise IT solutions are successful when they align with agency mission requirements and internal processes. For example, an agencywide data center consolidation must focus first on how it improves the agency's mission, such as increased security and optimized facilities management, and second on resource savings. In addition, strategies and investments to accomplish the data center consolidation (or any other enterprise IT solutions) must be integrated into the agency's formal financial, acquisition and human capital processes.


IT stewardship means meeting all legal and regulatory requirements and demonstrating accountability. A clean bill of health on the requirements of Clinger-Cohen, other federal laws and agency IT policies provides the baseline on which to protect core and future investments. Stewardship processes that produce a healthy IT environment include strategic planning, enterprise architecture, capital planning and portfolio management, process re-engineering and infrastructure management. Lastly, metrics embedded in these processes and linked to the agency's internal review process can demonstrate accountability.


It's easy for IT managers to focus solely on daily operations and crisis management. However, the real value of IT is its ability to leverage the agency's mission through the power of technology. The next two years are the perfect time to conduct pilot tests, create incentive awards programs and seed new ideas and programs for the future. Most likely, a high percentage of these R&D efforts will involve innovative IT tools, techniques and processes. Positioning for 2009, IT managers can use the results of these experiments to advocate new enterprisewide solutions.


Now for that one, small Y2K-like glitch'the change in daylight-saving time. Since 1966, most of the U.S. has observed DST from 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of April until 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday of October. On Aug. 8, 2005, President Bush signed an energy bill extending the dates, beginning in 2007, by four weeks to save energy. It will begin three weeks earlier, on the second Sunday in March, and end one week later, on the first Sunday in November.


The change may cause problems with software and electronics gear that compensate automatically for DST. It is unknown how extensive or limited this impact will be across the federal landscape. Consequently, the prospect exists that some software systems, weapon systems, and network devices and systems may be affected. Federal IT managers should review the impact of this change and act to assure a seamless transition.


Mimi Browning is a former Army senior executive who is currently a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va. She can be reached at browning_miriam@bah.com

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