IT's role in the year ahead

EVEN IN THE BEST OF TIMES, organizations face difficult decisions over which worthy projects to pursue and which, for better or worse, must be put aside.

The year ahead will test even the most resourceful organizations — and especially government agencies — as a new administration begins to tackle an extraordinary agenda of challenges.

When it comes to the government’s progress using information technology, however, this year could hold more promise than many might suspect, for several reasons.

First, although the list of essential government IT projects remains long and varied, there is mounting consensus about where the federal government should channel its IT resources, regardless of who is in the White House. High on most mustdo lists is the need to improve network and data security, implement service-oriented architectures, and streamline IT infrastructure.

Second, there is a growing sense that Web 2.0 and information-sharing technologies must play a greater role in how government operates.

The latest annual survey of senior federal IT officials released by the Association for Federal Information Resources Management last month bears that out. Its list of the top 10 critical technologies and solutions for government includes:

  • Web 2.0/collaborative technologies
  • Information sharing
  • Knowledge management
  • Service-oriented architecture
  • Wireless technology
  • Identity management/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (smart cards, biometrics)
  • Security applications
  • Workflow applications
  • Security infrastructure
  • Executive information and decision-support systems and
  • Web 2.0, collaboration and informationsharing technologies are relatively new to the list, representing an important, if belated, shift in government.

Of equal note — and a third reason to expect positive IT traction this year — is the Obama administration’s inclination to embrace these technologies.

Finally, as federal budgets and agency performance come under intense pressures this year, so will efforts to capture savings by standardizing systems and tapping the benefits of virtualization, IPv6 and knowledge management tools.

Several technology imperatives must also be addressed this year, stemming from federal mandates, which GCN explores further in this issue.

In sum, this will be an extraordinary year for government. Making the right IT moves will clearly help.

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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