25 and counting

A quarter-century of innovation that changed the way government works and how people live

As GCN celebrates its silver anniversary, we decided to ask some of the people involved: feds, former feds and industry leaders whose work, whether on a grand scale or in the details, has helped push the ball forward. Here are their expanded, unabridged answers to our key questions:

  • What technology had the biggest impact on your work in, or the work of, government in the last 25 years?
  • What individual had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government?
  • What information technology product(s) had the biggest impact on your work in, or the government of, government?
  • What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better? Or for worse?
  • What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

Zal Azmi - FBI chief information officer

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

1980s: National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (1984)

1990s: IAFIS: In 1999, the FBI developed and implemented a new automated fingerprint system known as the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). Since its inception, IAFIS has dramatically improved the processing of fingerprint submissions, reducing typical response times for electronic criminal and civil submissions to two hours and 24 hours, respectively.

Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), implemented in 1994, has helped solve or aided in more than 18,000 investigations nationwide. This is one of the most important advances in forensic technology. It has allowed us to work together to solve cases that are often decades old.

2000s: The 2000s have seen a technology 'ramp up' at the FBI.

Trilogy: The Trilogy Program was designed to enhance the FBI's effectiveness through technologies that assist organization, access and analysis of information. The overall direction of the program is to provide all FBI offices with improved network communications, a common and current set of office automation tools, and easy-to-use, re-engineered, Web-based applications.

Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW) is a centralized repository for relevant counterterrorism and investigative data that allows users to query the information using advanced software tools. IDW now contains over 560 million FBI and other agency documents from previously stove-piped systems.

Sentinel: Phase 1 provides a user-friendly, Web-based interface to access information currently in the FBI's Automated Case Support (ACS) system. Information is pushed to users and is available through hyperlinks. Phase 1 features a personal workbox that summarizes a user's cases and leads, putting more information at their fingertips and moving employees from dependence on paper-based files. It provides user-friendly search capabilities, an improvement over the cumbersome mainframe system. Phase 1 also provides a squad workbox that allows supervisors to better manage their resources and assign leads with the click of a mouse.

What individual had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government?

Robert Philip Hanssen had the biggest impact on the FBI. He compromised numerous human sources of the U.S. intelligence community, many classified U.S. government documents, including Top Secret and "codeword" documents and technical operations of exceptional significance. His actions showed us how susceptible we were at the time, but because of this, we've become stronger and better. Today, there is a comprehensive Security Program Plan, Information Assurance Plan modeled on the best practices of the intelligence community and we've instituted new audits and reviews to further assist deter and detect espionage activities.

What IT product(s) had the biggest impact in your work in the government ' or the work of government?

Numerous IT products have had a significant impact on the way we work in the FBI. We persist in modernizing and expanding our technology and enabling users no matter where they are. We have opened and strengthened lines of communication between the FBI and our partners in the federal, state, local, and international law enforcement and intelligence communities. We have created IAFIS, which has dramatically increased the processing of fingerprint submissions, reducing typical response times for electronic criminal and civil submissions to two hours and 24 hours respectively;

National Data Exchange (N-DEx), a secure national criminal justice information that provides law enforcement agencies with the ability to search, link, analyze and share criminal justice information nationally, and Regional Data Exchange (R-DEx) that allows information sharing regionally; and Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW), which provides Special Agents, Intelligence Analysts, and members of Joint Terrorism Task Forces, with a single access point to more than 47 sources of counterterrorism data, including information from FBI files, other government agency data and open-source news feeds, that were previously available only through separate, stove-piped systems, among many other significant programs.

And of course, Sentinel, an intuitive Web-based information management system that will make it easier to keep tabs on cases and share and access information.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

Sept. 11, 2001. 9/11 helped transform the FBI into an intelligence agency better equipped to help thwart the next terrorist attack. Sharing information became an imperative. We have developed new analytical tools and continue to adjust our strategy to incorporate the most progressive technology into every aspect of our operations. 9/11 has pushed us to look at things differently and create invaluable programs and technology such as a Terrorist Screening Center, Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center, R-DEX and N- DEx. We have and continue to develop the capabilities we need to succeed against all threats to ensure that we keep American citizens safe.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the worse?

Globalization has had a huge impact on our work. We have gone from an FBI whose main mission was solving crimes to a broader, proactive one of preventing acts of terrorism, cybercrime and high tech and intellectual property crime. However, the FBI is completely committed to protecting U.S. businesses and the nation's economy whether it's dismantling terrorist networks that seek to attack U.S. businesses and damage economies around the world, securing intellectual property rights, capturing cybervillains who hack corporate Web sites or send bits of malicious code across the Internet.

Internet-facilitated crime is a top priority. The FBI's Cyber Division is dedicated to combating cyber-based terrorism, hostile intelligence operations conducted over the Internet, and cybercrime such as child pornography and exploitation.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

We have taken the BlackBerry and made it into an indispensable tool for agents. The BlackBerry gives agents wireless access to Web sites such as the Terrorist Screening Database, National Crime Information Center, LexisNexis and ChoicePoint through a secure program called Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) Mobility. Since August we have issued 8,000 BlackBerrys and intend to issue 4,000 more by January. The BlackBerry will continue to expand the abilities of agents to catch terrorists and criminals.

Mimi Browning - Browning Consulting Group, LLC president and former principal director of enterprise integration in the Army CIO Office

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

Two key technologies:1. The Internet.2. The global collaboration technologies that it has created ' e-mail, text messaging, knowledge management tools, wikis, Internet and chat forums, electronic calendars and project management systems, social software, video and data conferencing, etc.

What individual had the biggest impact?

Paul Strassmann, Defense Department Director of Information [in the early 1990s]. Paul built one of the initial environments of trust and collaboration among the IT players in DOD for the purposes of joint warfighting and information sharing.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

1. The Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, which propelled federal CIOs into the executive ranks and emphasized that IT management and accountability were just as important, if not more so, than the technologies.

2. The decision by the Office of Management and Budget not to fund any Y2K remediation. This forced federal agencies to evaluate their IT investments, then modernize the strong systems and eliminate the unnecessary ones. Although portfolio management seeks to do the same, it will never have the same urgency and effect as did Y2K in overhauling government systems.

Robert J. Carey - Department of the Navy chief information officer

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

1980s: The migration of mainframe computing to desktop or personal computing. With desktop computing, the IT community no longer depended on the IT gurus who were removed from the rest of the workplace, working in elevated, highly air-conditioned rooms, behind glass walls. The IT community became the IT gurus; all the applications we needed were now on our own desktops.

1990s: The widespread use of the Internet. Information that might have taken literally weeks to find, was available right at our fingertips ' on the desktop computers that were introduced in the previous decade.

2000s: The introduction and subsequent proliferation of wireless personal electronic devices. Government workers were able to not only access the Internet and e-mail on their desktop computers, but they could take it with them. Being out of the office no longer means being disconnected from what's going on.

What individual had the biggest impact?

The individuals who had the biggest impact on my work, personally, in the government are Rep. William Clinger and Sen. William Cohen, who authored the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996. Clinger-Cohen is designed to improve the way the federal government acquires and manages IT. It requires the department and individual programs to use performance-based management principles for acquiring IT. It generated a number of significant changes in the roles of and responsibilities of various federal agencies in managing acquisition of IT and it established the requirement for each federal agency to have a chief information officer.

What IT products had the biggest impact in your work in the government ' or the work of government?

1980s: PCs ' automated information and business processes.

1990s: Networks ' information available worldwide

2000s: Wireless devices ' enabled a mobile workforce. Public-key infrastructure (PKI) increased security.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

Establishment of the Clinger-Cohen Act.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX). It is envisioned to provide expanded geographical coverage, wireless broadband and last-mile data connectivity for public and private use, and to compete with broadband cable and digital subscriber line (DSL) services. With WiMAX you can be going 80 mph in your car and still have connectivity. It is ubiquitous, anyone can get access and it reduces infrastructure costs because you don't have to lay cable; it uses a certain frequency range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The DON will tactically leverage WiMAX for use at sea, on base and in the air ' providing wireless capability to the warfighter.

Service-oriented architecture (SOA). It takes everyday applications and breaks them down into individual functions and processes, making it easier to build and deploy systems. SOA lets an organization build, deploy and integrate these functions and processes independent of the applications and computing platforms on which they run. Through the use of interchangeable, reusable parts, standard containers and open interfaces, SOA should simplify application development and maintenance. It will also provide flexibility by allowing applications to quickly and efficiently change to respond rapidly to evolving requirements.

Web 2.0 technologies. These technologies, including blogs, wikis, podcasts, mashups and real simple syndication (RSS), facilitate sharing and collaboration using the Internet. Young people joining the Navy and Marine Corps today (the Millennial Generation) are well-versed in Web 2.0 applications. They grew up with the Internet and computers; they are totally wired, totally digital, totally mobile and able to multitask. They expect to use familiar tools to get their work done. Organizations are taking advantage of these Web 2.0 technologies as they present a host of collaborative opportunities for the workforce.

Marine Gen. James Cartwright - Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

The technology that I wish I had when I started in the military that's available, kind of ubiquitous today, is precision time and location ' the Global Positioning System. It fundamentally changed so many things. To know where you were and what the time really was, from a technology standpoint, from what we call Tactics, Techniques and Procedures standpoint, just the basic ability was so fundamentally changed by having precise time and location.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

It was standardization. In the 1980s, the definition of interoperability was, 'You buy my platform.' In the 1990s, it was more about, 'You buy my box and then I'll stick in your platform and we'll be interoperable.' Today it's gone far beyond that to software and wrappers that allow platforms to be tailored, but be able to change their functionality very quickly.

As we move to the future and figure out what it is that's going to make a difference, the decisions that we've made to work on interoperability standards'will allow us to create alliances on the fly, solve problems we don't know we have and create the ability to go in mass forces very quickly inside of any kind of enemies' decision cycle or ability to move capability.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

Collaboration tools, including blogs. It's not the uniqueness, say, of e-mail, or of blogs or of chat rooms. It is matching the function. Blogs allow us to work globally, across numbers of time zones, have people exchange information, have centers of excellence, be able to work a problem and then shift that problem to another center of excellence based on the time of day, etc.

That's led to a fundamental cultural shift in the military. Blogs let contribution be the value, rather than your rank or your place in the chain of command. The blog started to erase some of that, and separate the idea of chain of command from chain of information.

John Chambers- Cisco Systems chairman and chief executive officer

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

The commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) mandate. The deployment of COTS solutions is revolutionizing the way governments develop and use networks to drive mission objectives. COTS equipment enables fast acquisition, is rapidly deployable, and is more cost-effective than custom solutions. COTS equipment shifts a significant amount of development and upgrade costs to the commercial industry, freeing needed funds for field use. In fact, NASA estimates that it can save between 30 and 50 percent of mission costs by adopting COTS technologies, freeing up funds for exciting new space missions like expeditions to the moon and Mars that will push the envelope of space exploration.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the worse?

I believe a country's competitiveness depends on four factors ' the quality of its education system, its innovation, the supportiveness of its government and the country's infrastructure. I believe broadband has become as important, if not more important, to a country's competitiveness than traditional physical infrastructure like roads.

As the network becomes the platform for transforming business, education, politics and nearly every way in which we work, live, learn and play, our long-term competitiveness will hinge in large part on our broadband build-out. Unfortunately, the United States has lagged behind other nations in this effort. Our success depends on making this an urgent priority and committing the necessary resources to make it sustainable; something we as a country have not yet done.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

I believe we are approaching phase two of the Internet, which is led by technologies that enable collaboration, commonly called Web 2.0 technology. I believe these collaborative technologies will drive productivity for the next decade and beyond, and will transform government and business models, entertainment, sports, family interactions and nearly every aspect of our lives.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Croom - Defense Information Systems Agency director and commander of the Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

Networking, specifically Internet Protocol (IP), has drastically changed the way we work. Our networks have grown physically with more and more locations worldwide, enabled by impressive collaboration capabilities.

The rate of change is dramatic and exciting. Computer networks initially took advantage of telecommunications infrastructure, but now things have come full circle. The barriers between computer networks, phone service, and radio and video broadcast have blurred. We can increasingly leverage these technologies through IP and network infrastructures, to allow our 5 million Department of Defense users to share information. We're also now taking advantage of our networks through parallel processes that bring together operators, developers, testers and certifiers virtually to help us deliver new capabilities to our warfighters faster.

What individual had the biggest impact?

Delivering information technology has been and is increasingly a "team sport." Smart, hard-charging government and industry professionals are creating daily, innovative improvements to our nation's military capabilities. However, the path we all now travel was preceded by visionaries who were able to look forward with clarity, and share the vision, like the late Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski. He was an early champion of the decisive warfighting advantage that comes with shared information. Admiral Cebrowski challenged us to believe in the tremendous positive impact of net-centric operations, and reminded us of our responsibility to ensure each soldier, marine, sailor and airman has access to the information they need to complete their mission and return home safely. His legacy continues to be relevant as we move closer to achieving the defense of our nation with smaller, networked units who wield significantly more powerful effects.

What IT products had the biggest impact in your work in the government ' or the work of government?

Portable communications have had a tremendous impact in government and across the world. It is estimated that within 10 years, 3 billion people globally will be connected via cell phones. It wasn't long ago that our daily news came predominantly from newspapers. Now, portable devices with access to the Internet allow us to read the news and accomplish most other communications including e-mail, chat, banking and entertainment. This technology has also had a dramatic impact on the business of warfighting. New portable communications technologies continue to be developed that improve our ability to put essential information literally into the hands of a warfighter on the battlefield.

Because the technology provides this information with speed, it can mean the difference between mission success and failure. It can also save lives.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

In 1999, the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer directed creation of the Global Information Grid (GIG). Over the years, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and others in the joint community have improved the GIG's operating environment and enhanced the services that support the joint warfighter. Specifically, the GIG provides ever-improving capabilities to allow the Department of Defense to reliably and securely share information with our mission partners.

But its full potential has yet to be realized. Information is not always readily available to the people who need it, when and where they need it. Major programs are underway with early successes, like Net-Centric Enterprise Services and Net-Enabled Command Capability, that will help to liberate the data currently captured in our legacy systems, and make it available across the GIG. We're also seeing great strides forward with innovative ways to secure the GIG's infrastructure and data. Overall, enhancing the GIG is a team effort that promises continued, significant progress in enabling the joint warfight.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

There are several powerful, emerging opportunities to better enable and manage access to the Department of Defense's valuable information.

Currently, Common Access Card/public-key infrastructure technology is implemented across 93 percent of the Department of Defense, allowing users access to systems and services based upon a token, or certificate, that they possess. Many systems today, however, still operate with a "man in the loop" approach to information access, where an individual puts in a request for access or specific information and waits for another person to approve the request. Time-intensive processes like these won't meet today's mission timelines.

Today's commanders need access to information in minutes versus hours or days. Full implementation of the GIG core enterprise service, Attribute Based Access Control (ABAC) is on the near horizon. It is a particularly powerful next step because it advances our ability to allow access to information while simultaneously protecting the information.

Utilizing machine-to-machine interactions, ABAC will rapidly allow a consumer with certain qualifiers to access information, even if the person is not known in advance to the information provider. Qualifiers might be the job a person occupies, or the organization to which the person belongs. ABAC will increase the speed ofinformation sharing needed for success in our joint missions.

Karen Evans - Office of Management and Budget administrator for e-government and IT

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

1980s: Personal computer.

1990s: E-mail, graphical user interface, TCP/IP and distributed computing.

2000s: E-mail, http, the browser and FIPS 201

What individual had the biggest impact?

Marc Andreeseen and his work with the browser. I remember using Mosaic to show users how/what was available out on the Internet for their use.

What IT products had the biggest impact?

Same as above. These products changed the way we deliver services both internally and to the citizen. The Internet really allowed us to bring the services to the individual citizen but also there is the increasing need for security and privacy. We need to balance the convenience with the risk associated with the increased service delivery.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

There are two which have had major impact. During the Clinton administration, when all agencies were to create a Web page and ensure they have their information available to the public (electronic reading rooms/E-FOIA) and when the Bush administration conducted the Quicksilver Task Force and set up the 25 E-Gov initiatives. These events forever changed the government and how we think of ourselves. We are one federal government and not individual agencies delivering services.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the worse?

It depends on how you look at these events. When agencies got hacked in the '90s or when an agency lost personally identifiable information, these events eroded public trust. However, through public reporting of these incidents, they helped focus the agencies on security and privacy as well as improving service delivery.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

The deployment of IPv6 will forever change the Internet and will allow for innovation in areas we cannot even imagine.

Ira Hobbs - Hobbs & Hobbs principal and former CIO of the Treasury Department

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

One was when government finally decided that we are going to have electronic government and not only that, but that we are going to do so in a way that engages all of government together simultaneously. Many of us dreaded that day when Mark Forman made the announcement about where we were moving with the Quicksilver projects and how they evolved into our government initiative. But by and large I think they have been extremely successful in terms of moving government in a different direction and in a different time in terms of the services that we provide to citizens.

The second inflection point for me was around the year 2001 when the Federal CIO Council, on the auspices of its workforce committee, commissioned a report on the health and status of information technology professionals in government that was conducted for us by the National Academy of Public Administration. That set the framework for many of the successes we have seen in the continued evolution of the information technology professional as a series that related to training and development of individuals, and the core competencies necessary to be successful in these areas.

We've always had financial management. We've always had human resources and acquisition and buying. But in the last 25 years we have seen a phenomenal growth and development in the role of the information technology professional as a service provider and a meaningful manager of the management team.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

When I think about the next five years and where we are headed in information technology, and I think about things like Web 2.0, collaboration, my thoughts focus around where will the wiki workers of the future come from? Where will those folks evolve from, who have the kinds of skill sets that will be necessary for government to be effective in this area? You know, we will have to deal with privacy. We will have to deal with security. But more importantly, we will have to deal with working in an environment that most of us in government are very unfamiliar with, and that is where we are equal partners with the citizens. Not the overlords of information, because information will be being created on the fly by citizens across the world, and we in government will have to recognize that in the past we have always been the leader and the major store of information and data. As the future moves on, and the future evolves, we are going to be a custodian, a steward of that information.

John Johnson - General Services Administration assistant commissioner of the Integrated Technology Services Organization

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

One is certainly the development of the Internet, which has allowed us to exchange information more readily between and amongst each other. I remember back in the '80s when I was working for DISA, and I went out to our engineering facility where some of the engineers demonstrated the Internet to me. And I was just absolutely amazed at what it could do. I never would have dreamed that it could do what it can do today.

Another is the advent of the PC and placing those PCs on the desktop; it changed the way the office environment works.

And mobile computing is a real advancement in the way the government does business.

What IT products had the biggest impact in your work in the government ' or the work of government?

Back in 1996, when Clinger-Cohen was introduced, I think it had probably the most profound impact on our environment in that it required us to look at our infrastructure and our investments like a business. And in turn that's resulted in performance metrics to make sure that we're spending each dollar wisely with regard to IT. And I think that's created a discipline that carries over into today in terms of investments and getting great value out of any dollar that we spend.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

The mobile computing and communications environment I believe is going to have a profound impact on the way we do business in the future. As we look at emerging technologies in terms of delivering broadband to the handset, or to the PDA, it's really going to change that dynamic with regard to how government operates. There's been a great thrust towards telework, for example. And these types of technologies are really going to enable that. And in turn it will change how we do business and how we exchange information, where we work. And I believe it's just going to have a significant impact in this environment.

Mark Johnson - Oracle Public Sector senior vice president

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

The Internet changed everything about the way we work and communicate in government. It spawned numerous desktop tools that improve our efficiency. It altered the computing paradigm, allowing agencies to deploy software on central servers rather than on each individual client ' enabling users to access applications and e-mail from anywhere at any time. The Internet also provided government agencies with a means to provide their constituents with better service ' allowing citizens to do business with government online, rather than in line. By automating these services, government workers have been able to improve efficiency and focus on other mission-critical tasks.

Early 1990s: Relational database.

Late 1990s: The Internet and advent of ERP applications.

2000: Web services, standards-based technology, service-oriented architecture

What individual had the biggest impact?

The men and women of the armed forces have made the biggest impact on me personally and on my work in government. When I look at their dedication, their commitment and the sacrifice they make each and every day on behalf of our nation, it gives me great pride to work in an industry that helps our government succeed in its various missions, both at home and abroad.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

The event has to be 9/11. Although tragic, it brought to focus the need for collaboration and information sharing at all levels of government ' federal, state and local ' across just about all verticals ' such as justice and public safety, health and human services, and transportation.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

Standards-based applications and middleware technology will have the biggest impact, leading to significant cost savings, growing opportunities for integration/collaboration, as well as increased efficiency and transparency in government.

Steven Kelman - Harvard University Kennedy School of Government professor of public management, and former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

I think probably the most important change has been the move of IT from the back office to the mission. Twenty-five years ago, most IT was used to automate back-office functions such as payroll, or personnel or whatever. Now, most agencies couldn't accomplish their mission ' or certainly nearly as well as they do ' without information technology. And that ranges from the defense world and embedded IT in weapons systems all the way to customer service applications, like making National Park Service reservations online to accessing information over the Internet.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

The government is not the earliest adopter of Web 2.0, obviously. But I think it's interesting in a whole number of areas that the government is beginning to make use of Web 2.0 kinds of applications ' in places like the State Department ' and the spread of blogs in the government, and just the willingness and openness of the government to make use of various aspects of Web 2.0. I think it sends a signal that governments are keeping up.

J.F. Mergen - Verizon Federal Network Systems chief technology officer

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

Packet data. In general, the Internet, but more specifically, information that is not bound directly to a specific application interface. Over the past 25 years, we have gone from an environment where the norm was a collection of stove-piped applications to the true ability to create integrated solutions and work with data fusion. In terms of cost, small groups can take advantage of national data resources to improve their operations and create better products. The accessibility to information has also produced far greater transparency in the operation of government ' making the operational data far more available to those who can use it. This has decreased decision-making times and improved the information base for those decisions. The single biggest gain has been in the alignment of information and action within government. Through rapid movement of information, managers, individual contributors, and policy makers have a higher likelihood of sharing a common worldview resulting in aligned action.

By decade:

1980s:

PCs. They changed the world, took applications development to the user (Excel, Lotus 1-2-3) and changed the office organization. The change in the social organization of many enterprises was fostered by the appearance of the PC. The ubiquitous presence of secretarial typing pools, the process of approval and the power of an interoffice memo all were changed by the desktop presence of the PC. Once connected, professionals become their own support staff. Initially there were cries of decreased productivity and loss of status. Instead, the ability to rapidly create and disseminate product suddenly made the professional more valuable and substantially improved the capability of the 'knowledge worker.' The need for additional technical skills created a temporary divide between thought that could and those that were stuck at a blue screen, but the mouse, WYSIWYG displays and continually improving processor capabilities made operating the desktop computer second nature to most and no longer the province of the high priests of technology.

1990s: The Web. As the Web grew from a cool way to browse image files and began to act as portals to information, Web pages transformed the way information was presented and information flowed with the organization. The advent of a common iconographic lexicon made it possible for people to quickly find their way around new applications. The initial successes were complicated by ever-expanding Web pages with more and more cluttered displays. By the end of 1999, the Web page as we know it today was largely visible, a complex but usable means of navigating very growing information. Employees now had simple access to corporate information resources and through the advent of dashboards, the enterprise's performance can be seen and actions taken at all levels of the organization.

2000s: Wireless and batteries. Just as the PC broke down organizational barriers by eliminating the need to funnel communication through administrative assistants and typing pools, wireless attacks the physical structure of the enterprise. Working in an office is no longer mandated because that is where the phone, fax and computer are. The work location is dictated by where there is the greatest need. The physical layout of the office can be fluid, based on projects and need. Organizational teams can form and disperse as necessary without having to struggle with infrastructure issues. (And in Washington, many knowledge workers may someday be able to spend more time being productive than trying to navigate I-695.)

What individual had the biggest impact on your work in the government or the work of government?

In the late 1980s a fellow named Harry Forsdick was working at BBN Technologies on early Internet applications. No one really understood what he was doing and he was exploring and area where no one had gone before. One particular application was called (as I remember) the PIN or Personal Internet Newspaper. Using a scripting language that foreshadowed Java Script and Google scripting, one could build an automatically generated newspaper based on the content of very large number of sites. When this was shown to a number of potential customers, there was almost a universal lack of understanding. However, it really made me think about how little we know of the potential of this growing network and it obliterated a number of conceptual walls.

What IT product(s) had the biggest impact in your work in the government or the work of government?

1990s: PowerPoint. Whether we like it or not, PowerPoint has influenced the way information is communicated and even how projects are conceived. The reduction of many decisions to a collection of bullet points can be traced to this useful but pervasive tool. In too may cases the structure of an idea is forced into the familiar format before it has had a chance to be full developed.

2000s: Portable text messaging (BlackBerry). Useful, intrusive, the friend of operational managers and the enemy of contemplative thought, near-real-time wireless e-mail has extended the work day and shortened response times.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

1985: E-mail. I stopped playing phone tag, could easily share precise information and could leverage a group rather than an individual. Suddenly, the ability to reach across organizations and for a group consensus without needing to have all of the contributors in the room made aligned action more likely. The ability to avoid phone tag made asking a simple question and getting a simple answer possible. Technical interactions simplified as precise information could be easily transmitted. The dark side of BCC-ing, 'flame wars' and hiding behind e-mail are still problems, but are yielding to the development of new etiquette and ethical understandings.

1995: Opening of Internet browsers on the office desktops. Information and process began to be dispersed within the enterprise. Once begun, it is almost impossible to stop. The growth of transparency made the alignment of the enterprise much easier for those who understand what is happening. The development of management practices and understanding of the environment of transparency has yet to fully be adopted, but the strength of coherent action afforded by easy access to information promises to be one of the great intellectual force multipliers.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the worse?

Security ' building barriers if done wrong. In an effort to secure systems, many environments were locked down as tightly as possible in what amounts to making all other organizational goals subordinate to security. This is often done when security is an appliqu' to the system, rather than being part of the initial architecture. An alternative, which is found in a number of very successful, easy to use systems, is the idea of re-enforcing good behavior to create a trusted environment. Maturity in the development of secure and trusted systems, coupled with rational architectures may mitigate some of the user hostile implementations rushed into service.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

Converged communications with mash-ups. Suddenly the combination of the system architects and the administrators no longer control the view of information. Individual contributors can create their on versions of reports, data collections and processes to accomplish their objectives. With the convergence of information types and near universal access, the ability to base actions on current information extracted in a meaningful way will spread across the environment. At the same time, achieving alignment and coherent organizational action will become more of a challenge to leadership and less a function of data management and system operation

Brand Niemann- Environmental Protection Agency senior enterprise architect and chairman of the Federal CIO Council Semantic Interoperability Community of Practice

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

1980s: New PCs with Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect.

1990s: Web 1.0 and writable CD-ROMs and DVDs.

2000s: Web 2.0 and 3.0 (Wikis and semantic technology).

What individual had the biggest impact?

Mark Forman.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

May 6-8, 2007: The 22nd Semi-Annual Spring Government CIO Summit by Wiki: New Tools for Collaboration, Information-Sharing, and Decision-Making, because it raised the awareness of CIOs to the Web 2.0 reality and started their Government 2.0 activity.

What even or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the worse?

Lack of real implementation of the E-Gov Act of 2002 and Enterprise Architecture because of the systemic way that Congress funds IT projects (by silos) and lack of staff and resources in the Office of Management and Budget Chief Architect and CIO Council Committees.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

Web 2.0 and 3.0 (wikis and semantic technology).


Kim Nelson - Microsoft Public Sector director of eGovernment and Health and Human Services and former Environmental Protection Agency CIO

What individual had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

I had the good fortune of working for two great deputy secretaries in Pennsylvania. The first was a great manager, the second had a technology vision unsurpassed by anyone in government. Had it not been for these two individuals, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection would not be what it is today ' one of the best in the nation; and I would not have had the opportunity to serve as a political appointee in the U.S. EPA.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

I have to go back to my state government days. It was the mid '90s and early in Tom Ridge's administration. Gov. Ridge and his team were anxious to demonstrate their commitment to the environment. Our agency leveraged the Web like no other in state government, to increase transparency and information dissemination. When PA DEP was about to become the first in the nation to post online company and facility inspection and compliance data, company representatives (many of which had been asking candidate Ridge to focus on compliance), traipsed through the governor's office asking him to stop the agency. The governor stood firm and as a result his administration received widespread acclaim, national awards, for taking a bold step. Today, this kind of information is generally accepted; in the mid '90s it was groundbreaking.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the worse?

One of the most important issues with which we have to deal today is privacy. Unfortunately, the 'bad guys' ' those who steal and use publicly identifiable information inappropriately and for criminal purposes ' have significantly impeded a number of good government efforts such as telework, information sharing and improved government transparency. We have to learn to do a better of protecting PII and not allow the criminals to impede appropriate government progress.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

As more services go 'live,' or performed in the cloud, I think we will begin to see increasing options for meeting the needs of individuals and organizations. Traditional IT shops with data centers and installed software serving a single organization will continue to give way to more consolidation serving more customers in different ways. Data centers will offer their customers more options, not just running traditional applications, but hosted live services as well. On the customer end, an organization may be serviced by its own IT shop for some functions, one or more public or private shared service centers for other functions; or even foregoing traditional IT applications and instead buying a hosted service on a monthly basis. Customers will be served by a changing blend of desktop software, server based software and cloud based software.


Alan Paller - SANS Institute research director

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

The first major federal Web defacement in August 1996, on the Justice Department Web site, in which Janet Reno's picture was replaced by the picture of Adolf Hitler. Why: because it forced Karen Evans [OMB administrator for e-government and IT, who then was with Justice] to become an expert in the technical aspects of cybersecurity, and she has subsequently had more positive impact on federal cybersecurity than almost any other federal official.


M.J. Pizzella - Google Enterprise senior business development manager and former General Services Administration associate administrator for citizen services and communications

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

In the 2000s: Government agencies exist, fundamentally, to provide citizens with services and information. With an ever-growing amount of data to disperse and services to provide, agencies face a complex problem of identifying and returning accurate information to citizens efficiently. The sheer volume of information to wade through can be a barrier to providing good service. Further complicating the situation, the amount of information available is expanding rapidly ' in the past 10 years, the number of unique domains on the Internet has grown from about 25 million to well over 600 million, with an even more significant growth of data held internally by government agencies. Managing this information has, until recently, been a problem with few good solutions. Complicated taxonomies, meta-tagging, and knowledge management schemes often did little to simplify user's ability to find specific data. With information housed in multiple repositories, even knowing where to look could be a formidable challenge.

The advent of modern search technologies like Google and the subsequent introduction of effective enterprise search tools over the past five years have lowered many of these barriers. Search relevancy has improved significantly ' allowing users to spend less time looking for information and more time using it. By providing a simple solution to look in multiple data silos, users with appropriate access privileges can get more information than ever before from a single search. This enables government agencies to serve citizens in ways that were previously unimaginable ' from electronically filing taxes to finding the nearest post office to obtaining visitor information for a national park, the government has recently been able to interact with the public in powerful new ways.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five year?

At Google, we see the current emergence of Software as a Service (SaaS) as a significant paradigm shift in the way that government agencies will access data and applications. SaaS architectures can provide government employees secure access to data and tools from anywhere ' especially valuable to telework initiatives and employees who are not always stationed at a desk. For mobile government employees, the importance of having data available anywhere cannot be overstated. SaaS also strengthens teamwork, from virtual groups that represent actual working teams, to allowing users to share their data in ways that have previously been difficult or impossible. In the past, software has enabled individual productivity ' moving forward, we expect a similar effect on team productivity.

Further, by centralizing many applications and most data storage, software can be easily updated and maintained in one location, giving the entire user community constant access to the most up-to-date tools. SaaS can free IT departments from the burden of constant desktop upgrades and server maintenance, allowing government IT professionals to direct their energy at innovating and problem solving in support of their agency's mission and away from the routine tasks necessary to 'keep the lights on.'


David Songco - National Institutes of Health National Institute of Child Health and Human Development chief information officer

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

1980s: The PC.

1990s: The LAN.

2000s: The Internet.

2010s: Wireless.

What IT products had the biggest impact in your work in the government ' or the work of government?

1980s: Microprocessor.

1990s: operating systems.

2000s: BlackBerry, PDA, GPS, wireless.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

Repeal of the Brooks Act, followed by the Clinger-Cohen Act dramatically changed and improved the acquisition process for IT.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the worse?

A-76 gives the appearance of having reduced the head count, but in fact the federal staffs are reduced while total head count, including contractors, went up.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years? Government IT managers are challenged to meet expanding missions with limited resources. At the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), we are successfully accomplishing our mission with the help of virtual collaboration technology.

On a given day, NICHD conducts numerous reviews of medical protocols and scientific research; NICHD researchers and sponsored research groups collaborate with domestic and international colleagues. Getting information and scientific research to end-users faster and reducing travel expenditures, are important goals at NICHD.

To achieve our goals and increase individual and organizational performance we have leveraged Virtual Collaboration Technology (VCT). Through the use of VCT we have discovered the value of saving time for physicians and researchers. Virtual meetings enable new forms of collaboration that were once impractical due to funding, time, and travel constraints. VCT is being adopted rapidly at NICHD. Time and cost savings, as well as avoiding air travel, are key drivers.

Look for VCT to be a major driver of increased individual and organizational performance in the next five years. Just as e-mail transformed communication across the government in the '80s and '90s, so will virtual collaboration in the next five years.


Bill Vajda - Education Department chief information officer

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in the government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

The introduction of the micro-computer in the early 1980s. The movement of computing resources from the back office directly to the user desktop profoundly changed the mission of IT.

By decade:

1980s:

Microcomputers.

1990s:

Internet.

2000s:

Media convergence (voice, phone, video, TV, radio, etc. all delivered through the same service provider)...

What individual had the biggest impact?

Rep. William Clinger and Sen. William Cohen gave the IT department a seat at the table.

Without that opportunity, no meaningful relationship between the mission of government and the tools available to government would have been possible.

What IT product(s) had the biggest impact in your work in the government -- or the work of government?

By decade:

1980s:

MS-DOS.

1990s: HTTP.

2000s: IPv6.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

The decision not to tax Internet business. As a result, there has been a huge incentive to use the Internet to deliver both "industrial age" services, as well as to embrace new business models without the distortion of Government regulation or intervention.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the worse?

Lack of a national credentialing process. As a result, consistent information security, and a single face to U.S. citizens is far more complex and challenging to achieve.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

IPv6. Convergence of media, and expansion of new capabilities within home, work and society.


Bob Woods - Topside Consulting president and former commissioner of the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service

What technology had the biggest impact on your work in government ' or the work of government ' in the last 25 years?

It boiled down to personal computers coming in the 1980s, the Internet and its Web applications in the '90s and the security and information management issues in the 2000s. As PCs entered our world in the '80s we started looking at better ways to use them. Spreadsheet applications and engineering calculations seemed to be big at the beginning. Little did we suspect that their biggest use would be communications and Internet applications. Once the Internet entered the scene and the deregulation of the telecommunications industry began to take hold, the World Wide Web became a reality. We should not forget it touched off the dot-com economic boom of the '90s that fueled the applications we have today. We should also not forget it brought the cybersecurity problems we face today. The 2000s promise to be known for bringing privacy and data management issues forward and the invention of such crimes as identity theft.

What individual had the biggest impact?

I think that's a tie between Frank Reeder, formerly of OMB, and Jerry Mechling, the director of the Strategic Computing Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Both reinforced my strong belief that technology is a tool to allow us to do our job better. When I decided as head of the Federal Aviation Administration's IT program to outsource our data centers and our desktops, Frank was very supportive to a relatively young IT leader. He gave quiet and effective advice that I was smart enough to heed. Likewise, Jerry gave me a chance to contribute to his program as an advisor in its early stages. His advisory group allowed me to listen to my counterparts in other organizations and to compare methods. I am grateful to both men for their thought leadership and a chance to try my own ideas with them.

What IT products had the biggest impact in your work in the government ' or the work of government?

The key to the Internet and most of the Web applications of today come from the networking products that spawned after the telecommunications deregulation in this country. With the Internet came communications capability of all sorts. The infrastructure built in the '90s will be viewed in the long run as a remarkable feat and one that has changed how we live. Video technology is also one that has changed our lives and its coupling with the communication leaps has left us with results that are both negative and positive. Video products such as cameras have created a society with almost no privacy. When an event from a house fire to crime committed can be caught on video, it reminds us that the products are inexpensive, accessible to most people and uncontrollable.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the better?

Moving the Internet into the public domain from its research world was the biggest change in the 25-year period. It created the flat communications structure that allows the anywhere-to-anywhere Internet to work. Without it the PC would still be used in the home for games and cataloguing recipes.

What event or government IT decision had the biggest impact for the worse?

I believe the politicizing of IT positions is the worst change. It exacerbates the already high turnover and makes policy decisions within agencies more short-term and more concerned with how things will look. IT, like many other functions of government, needs continuity and stability. It does not, much like financial management or engineering, need constant turnover and a weather-vane mentality to what is important.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact over the next five years?

Wireless broadband holds great promise. This comes in the local and metro flavors. While the local version promises to bring higher bandwidth without the hardwiring needed today, it is the metro or last-mile version that promises to bring broadband to the masses. While urban areas enjoy cable, DSL and multiple-provider variety, today there is a growing dissatisfaction with the lack of service in rural and remote areas. Wireless broadband that can bring the last-mile service to remote locations promises to bring the ubiquity that electricity and plain old telephone service have achieved.

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