The IT revolution hasn't missed the Hill

Rep. Tom Davis

Henrik G. DeGyor

Two decades ago, technology stood as one of many factors important to the mission and performance objectives of the federal government. But no longer is technology one of many; instead, the information revolution and the ever-evolving technologies that support information collection and assimilation have become nothing short of integral to the functioning of our government.

This evolution presents both challenges and opportunities for federal agencies and the American people our government serves.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the ensuing war on terrorism have produced a variety of responses throughout the world. Nowhere has the response been so fervent as here in the nation's capital. There is, quite simply, an unprecedented awareness of the vulnerabilities we face.

This new awareness has focused more attention on security, particularly with respect to information. It's a fact: Federal information systems continue to be woefully unprotected from both malevolent attacks and benign interruptions.

The state of federal information security suffers from a lack of coordinated, uniform management. At a time when uncertainty erodes confidence in our nation's preparedness, the federal government must make information security a priority.

I am heartened that, in crafting Homeland Security Department legislation, we have made strides in the right direction.

Technology will also largely determine what we are able to accomplish in our war against terror at home and abroad. Already, we have seen a drastic change in government agencies as they try to ensure they are prepared to meet future challenges. And we have seen a tremendous push for new competitors to enter the government marketplace.

First stop

As the economy has cooled and the government has ramped up defense spending, vendors are turning to the government marketplace as the first stop, not the last.

Although new funding is certainly needed if the federal government is to effectively modernize, share information and win the war on terrorism, we need to evaluate the overall success or failure of our efforts to date, ensure that the private sector is our full partner going forward and integrate definable performance metrics into our IT planning and spending.

And, when it comes to government IT programs, we need to keep our eyes on the larger prizes: transforming our information structure into a cost- and process-efficient network while giving agencies the tools to shift from stovepiped information management to interconnectivity and ease of information transfer.

Also, we must use an enterprise architecture to build a foundation for e-government initiatives, evaluate current IT systems to eliminate redundancies and unify information governmentwide, and increase the interoperability of agency systems to enhance effectiveness and efficiency.

Government Computer News will play an important role as we attempt to move the government at New Economy speed. By reporting on important issues of the day'the government's human capital crisis, the goals of e-government, protecting against cyberthreats'GCN can increase awareness and knowledge among all stakeholders. It can help lawmakers craft an agenda that recognizes information security and management cannot simply go the way of other issues du jour.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) is chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy.

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