COMMENTARY

Fiscal year-end spending: Does 'use it or lose it' still rule?

The 21 Quicksilver e-government initiatives. Lines of business. Enterprise architecture. Strategic sourcing. Since 2001, the Office of Management has championed a number of ideas or programs intended to bring order to federal IT spending. But has it really made a difference?

The end of the fiscal year is a perfect time for a reality check. For years, OMB officials have bemoaned the fact that September usually brings a rush of spending as agency officials look to use up the last of the old fiscal year's funding -- and along the way pick up some nifty new technology.

As a matter of fact, when I was a cub reporter at Federal Computer Week in the early 1990s, the “use-it-or-lose-it” mentality provided a good opportunity to track technology trends. A team of reporters would check in with execs in government and industry to see what products topped that year’s shopping list.

In theory, that wouldn’t work now. Ideally, agencies are planning out their purchases carefully, based on some sort of IT master plan and acquisition strategy. But I can’t help but wonder if that’s the case.

What do you think? Is IT spending more strategic these days, or is the end of September still a shopping extravaganza? Leave your comments below.

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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