Don't miss the boat

Thomas R. Temin

Would you like to double the power of your Web servers?

It's not an academic question. The 550-MHz and 600-MHz Pentium chips are pouring out of Intel Corp.'s fabrication plants. In a year the company plans to start selling even faster chips with 64-bit memory addressing.

Craig Barrett, Intel's president and chief executive officer, said at a recent conference that he thinks organizations will apply the additional power to enhancing electronic commerce'taking the buyer-seller interaction to new levels.

Intel, in anticipation of the widespread advent of 64-bit computing, has even established a $250 million venture capital fund to finance e-commerce innovations.

For the past 10 years or so, the service-to-the-citizen movement has spurred agencies to find creative ways to deliver services to their constituencies, with the hope of matching the technology-driven service levels of large companies.

What the Intel initiatives indicate is that service and efficiency levels are about to take another quantum leap, raising the bar for government if it wants to keep up. But it's not clear that the federal government is ready to match the private sector.

As the Defense Department struggles to establish e-commerce programs for logistics and critical spare parts operations, some large corporations are practically melding their production, inventory and payment systems.

As millions of consumers buy goods online with credit cards, the Social Security Administration, hobbled by privacy groups and Congress, cannot find a way to make Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statements available online.

And as state governments rapidly move to incorporate digital signatures in dozens of transactions, the administration still hasn't set a cogent encryption policy.

None of the problems faced by the federal government are technically, legally or even culturally insurmountable. The progress that agencies have already made proves that. Like Intel, the Chief Information Officers Council makes development money available for IT innovation.

The goal for 2000 and beyond should be to consummate the marriage of powerful technology and great ideas.

Thomas R. Temin

Editorial director

Internet: editor@gcn.com

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