'99 has its priorities | GCN
this writing, Washington is in a paroxysm of worry over politics. But for most people,
whats been happening on Capitol Hill is more a cause for watercooler bickering than
concern over the future of the republic. We all have work to do.
For federal information technology managers, 1999 will have several themes.
First of all, youll have a professional life beyond year 2000 fixes. Speculation
last year had it that date code work would occupy agencies IT activities to the
exclusion of all else. Thats mostly been untrue. In the last two weeks of 1998
alone, the IRS and the General Services Administration awarded multibillion dollar
contracts that have nothingor very littleto do with year 2000.
A priority for many agencies will be, not surprisingly, electronic commerce.
Federal agencies should look to state counterparts such as Texas, which wants to extend
its EC project beyond online ordering to cover financial and accounting components of
transactions. Thats a complicated job, but its a crucial step in making
electronic commerce a reality.
You should also expect to deal with two continuing topics: the IT talent drain, and
data security and privacy.
The ongoing depletion of the IT ranks may slow a bit as the economy cools, but that
wont change the fact that the bureaucracy has suffered a knowledge loss. And make no
mistake, you cannot outsource your way out of this dilemma.
As to security and privacy, government systems remain seriously unprotected. A recent
Privacy is about to burst onto the scene as a big political issue as it dawns on
citizens that public and private entities have amassed enormous amounts of personal
information. Expect it to become an oversight matter if your agency maintains databases of
information about citizens.
Oh, and lets not forget: Everything you do will occur against the backdrop of a
dynamic technology environment and a nearly endless choice of new products.
Turmoil may prevail at the top, but dont let it distract you from the important
work at hand.
Thomas R. Temin