Editor's Desk | Transition time

IN A LITTLE MORE THAN a week, a presidential transition team
will begin a massive effort to assess the ship of state — and
evaluate federal agencies and programs and make its recommendations
to the 44th president and his appointees.

That transition team will have only 77 days from the
presidential election to Inauguration Day to parachute in and
complete its work.

And the job of supporting these advisers will fall heavily on
the shoulders of Ed O’Hare.

O’Hare is chief information officer for the General
Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service. He is
one of many people at GSA who will be responsible for providing the
office space, computers, communications systems, contracting,
financial management, payroll, travel services and other support
services to an army of transition specialists.

Setting up and supporting a fully functioning and secure
information technology and communications network for temporary and
mostly mobile consultants present some daunting tasks for
O’Hare and his team.

First, there’s the job of establishing and connecting a
virtual office park of physically dispersed, secure,
ready-to-function workspaces for transition workers. Of course, they
will all need mobile phones and communication services. And if it
is an Obama transition team, there will likely be heavy demand for
Web 2.0 capabilities. Let’s hope O’Hare’s help
desk is up to the task.

Then there are the new mandates that have taken effect since the
last transition. There’s Homeland Security Presidential
Directive 12, requiring secured identification cards — not to
mention the business of clearances. There are new Federal
Information Processing Standards to comply with. And emergency and
continuity-of-operations plans must be implemented and tested.

GSA also must help build a massive appointee directory, assist
with outgoing appointees, and tend to dozens of other logistics
issues that involve IT. We wish O’Hare luck.

It’s our hope that his team and GSA will take on one more
unofficial role, though: join other agency officials in
highlighting the important strides achieved and value delivered in
federal IT during the past eight years.

Much remains to be done. But the outgoing administration has
laid a valuable foundation for electronic government and the
essential framework for developing and improving cross-governmental
IT. The next administration would do well to build on that

About the Author

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.

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