Kundra seeks inventory of agencies' knowledge management apps

Knowledge Management Working Group to conduct survey

Knowledge management is on the agenda of the Obama administration.

Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra has asked the Federal Knowledge Management Working Group to conduct an inventory of the applications that agencies use to capture and share the expertise of their employees, Jeanne Holm, co-chair of the working group, said today at the Open Government and Innovations conference in Washington.

Kundra also is interested in hearing about the current best practices for collaboration.

In conducting its surveys, the group is especially interested in bringing to light some applications in use at smaller agencies, or perhaps in small groups in large agencies, said Holm.

These applications might be focused on “local” issues in those groups, but might have broader applicability. “I’m hoping we can find good local solutions that we can take and mature,” she said.

In some cases, the technology itself would not be scalable, but the methodologies could be, Holm said.

The working group, once part of the Federal CIO Council but now an independent group, includes 700 members from government, industry and academia.

Government Computer News' parent company, the 1105 Government Information Group, sponsors the conference.

About the Author

John Monroe is Senior Events Editor for the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of content for print and online content, as well as events. John has more than 20 years of experience covering the information technology field. Most recently he served as Editor-in-Chief of Federal Computer Week. Previously, he served as editor of three sister publications: civic.com, which covered the state and local government IT market, Government Health IT, and Defense Systems.

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Reader Comments

Mon, Aug 17, 2009

I agree, in part, with your statement "File dumps like SharePoint do not help much". Our office that has employees in a half dozen states and not only do we find it extremely useful, it has also saved huge amounts of time, money and headaches by using it to its full potential. Tell people it’s a dump and it is however, it is not a dump because of what it can or cannot do, it is a dump because you told people it was and is. Perhaps not everyone uses SharePoint to the full extent as we do however; to make such a blanket statement with nothing to back it up besides “because” is acting, to say the least, irresponsibly. Personally, if I had the choice between SharePoint and a Shared Drive – not even a question..

Sat, Jul 25, 2009 Stephen Williams Mountain View, CA

Knowledge management is still very basic and sporadic. Wikis are one reasonably effective solution, however they still fall short for many purposes. Most knowledge that is captured is locked up in MS Word documents or spreadsheets. These become less useful rapidly and are not easily referenced. File dumps like Sharepoint do not help much. Most knowledge remains locked in people's heads, shared by word of mouth and common experience. Many organizations are substantially blind to opportunities for knowledge capture and sharing outside of certain core structured information, customer and transaction lists, etc. Until we have a far better user interface model that is enabled by something like a rich semantic technology database engine (RDF/OWL/SPARQL or similar), we will remain frustrated in attempts at efficient knowledge capture, sharing, and reuse. Our use of computers right now is still very primitive and inefficient. I'm working on solving this exact problem. I am highly interested in knowing what exists and what works (beyond what I have seen working in several agencies). I'm glad this administration is pushing this initiative.

Wed, Jul 22, 2009 Pragmatica Innovations Virginia Beach

This sounds great and is a step in the right direction. However, the crux of the problem isn't in finding the perfect application or in unearthing the methodology that has grown from the use of the application. Using a methodology is great as long as its knowledge foundation is ‘structurally’ sound. By structure in this case, I am referring to the metamodel or the underlying data structure - the 'grammar' and 'sentence structure' of the knowledge if you will. Rather than focusing on sending out search parties in search of the perfect application, why not focus attention on building out the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA). The current FEA contains references to knowledge management and some rudimentary measurements of its technological maturity but lacks ‘structural’ details. Mature the FEA to the point where it can be used as a reference model or standard to analyze the 'grammar' and 'sentence structure' of each application. Then when the working group uses this standard to compare against, they will know they have found an application that meets the minimum ‘grammatical’ requirements for a knowledge management application. Completing this foundational piece will enable standardized knowledge communications and transfer within as well as across agencies.

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