Speak up to Dubya

Thomas R. Temin

Naturally, everyone is wondering what president-elect George W. Bush will do about information technology in government.

Chances are, federal IT won't be the topic of his very first meeting after his Jan. 20 inauguration. In fact, legend has it new presidents experience a moment of panic the first time they sit behind the desk in the Oval Office. According to one story, Franklin Roosevelt started pushing unmarked buttons on his desk, signaling secretaries to fly into the office.

Bush's appointees will have some fires to deal with, IT programs that require immediate attention'for example, modernization at the IRS. The administration will also have to decide whether it wants a governmentwide chief information officer, an Office of Management and Budget IT czar, or neither.

The IT personnel issue also looms, as our Page 1 Special Report in this issue describes in detail.

But in the larger scheme of things, thinking and initiatives about improving services through IT have become part of the fabric of government. Eight years ago the Web hadn't become a ubiquitous medium of communication, rivaling print, radio and television, and adding interactivity. The Web acted as a catalyst for electronic government by providing a cheap and nearly universal service delivery medium.

Therefore, it is impossible to turn back the tide of online government. The more pressing question is how policies of the new appointees will affect existing projects.

Like it or not, expect to be asked to justify your ongoing projects. That's just the way it is when new executives come in, all the more so because of the change in political parties. Like hounds marking territory, the new folks will want to put their stamp on things. That's their right.

Consider this exercise a chance to rethink your programs and fortify your assumptions'or perhaps discard outdated ones. But don't hesitate to speak confidently if you believe in what you're doing. It is likely that the new people, despite any bravado they exhibit, will be feeling more intimidated than you.

Thomas R. Temin

Editorial director

E-mail: [email protected]


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