OF THE PEOPLE

Partnerships are the key to restoring America

Ira Hobbs

Since I started this column in January, our lives as citizens and federal managers have been transformed dramatically and not for the better. The unimaginable'an attack killing thousands followed by war'is now reality. The future is not assured. The economy has soured. Things people once thought of as important are much less so today. Old scripts have been torn up and rewritten, old agendas discarded.

Defeating terrorism and securing the United States' homeland, issues once debated mostly in reports sitting on shelves, now top our list of concerns.

Who can say what is to happen next? These are uncertain times, and I make no special claim of prognostication. But I do know that whatever the future holds, the key to our ability to get through and overcome our current difficulties will be our capacity to connect to one another.

That no person is an island has never been truer than today. Good people working together selflessly can accomplish far more than they can in isolation.

Working together means building partnerships among individuals, government and industry.

Post Sept. 11, the will to build more effective partnerships across many boundaries in government has clearly grown. Federal IT workers are key to making such partnerships happen. The federal IT work force is an essential ingredient in the country's ability to meet the security challenges it faces.

At the end of the day, building effective alliances for homeland defense requires information sharing, systems security and critical infrastructure protection. It takes a high level of technical and managerial skill to prepare for, prevent, detect and, if necessary, respond to acts of terror.

The day is coming when the government will pay yearly salaries of $200,000 to $300,000 for CIOs and other top IT managers because meeting the challenges we face will require the best IT leadership. Further efforts to improve pay for all federal IT workers will also be successful, and pay will necessarily be linked to performance.

It has been my pleasure this year to share some of my thoughts with readers of GCN on a number of issues I think are important to the federal IT community in general and the IT work force in particular. To the publishers, editors and readers, I simply want to say thank you for giving me the chance to speak my piece. Thanks to those of you who responded, via letters and e-mails, to my columns.

A wise man once said that feedback is a gift. Thank you for giving, with a special thanks to my readers over at the IRS.

This is my last scheduled article, so in some ways this is also goodbye. But, hey, who knows what will happen tomorrow or next year? Never underestimate the power of the press.

Thanks again to the publishers, editors and readers of GCN for giving me the chance to connect with each of you. See you down the road.

Ira Hobbs is acting CIO of the Agriculture Department and a member of the CIO Council.

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