EDITOR'S DESK—Commentary

Making an impact with IT

For all the legitimate clamor about how government agencies need to share information more effectively, it’s easy to miss the equally legitimate ways that agency information technology staffs are advancing the work of government.

That’s one reason why GCN goes to considerable effort each year to identify what’s working and why -- and to present a cross section of the most innovative and high-impact IT projects in government.

The outcome of that effort is contained in this special issue of GCN, which highlights 10 IT projects — and the men and women behind them — that have earned this year’s GCN Award for Agency IT Achievement.

The GCN Awards, now in their 22nd year, focus on government IT project teams that, over the previous year:

  • Succeeded in improving government services to the public; or
  • Significantly improved the effectiveness of government employees in accomplishing their mission; and
  • Demonstrated a notable degree of innovation and risk-taking in the execution of their project.

The projects highlighted in this issue were selected from among nearly 100 impressive nominations submitted to a judging panel that included eight distinguished former government technology executives, to whom we give owe a debt of thanks.

If this year’s projects share anything in common, it is the increasing degree to which information systems are connecting more seamlessly to other systems in new and sometimes innovative ways.

A case in point is how the U.S. Postal Service, facing severe funding and performance pressures, succeeded in modernizing an aging Cobol-based mainframe environment while reducing computing costs. Or consider how the FBI and its Criminal Justice Information Services’ National Data Exchange now enables 200,000 law enforcement officers in 18,000 federal, state and local agencies to connect data spread across 51 million continuously updated records.

The GCN Awards also recognize a handful of individuals for their significant contributions to the use of technology in Government. This year we salute the GCN Hall of Fame Inductee, former Rep. Tom Davis, and GCN IT Executives of the Year Martha DorrisRob Carey and Jim Lewis. Their stories can also be found in the pages of this issue. These individuals -- and the men and women behind this year’s award-winning projects — demonstrate once again the powerful role that IT innovations can play in improving the way government agencies accomplish their missions.

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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