Presidents desk

5 tech priorities for the new administration

The Obama administration has made remarkable progress applying IT tools and practices to the problems of making government smarter, faster and cheaper.  This has been especially true in its efforts on data center consolidation, the transition to cloud computing and using IT in the push for ever-more government information transparency. To maintain this record, here are five  technologies the new administration should keep on the presidential blotter.

1. Cybersecurity needs unified strategy

Cybersecurity is critical to the nation’s security and economy and a challenge the new administration must confront head on. The problem is complex because the IT systems and networks that so much of our economy depends on are interconnected and run on software that is constantly being analyzed by bad actors for flaws and vulnerabilities.

All of which puts a premium on cooperation between the private sector, which is the owner of so much of our critical infrastructure, and the government, which not only operates its own critical networks but also is responsible for defending the nation. But this cooperation is hampered by a lack of a legal framework defining responsibilities and liabilities.  The next administration will have to work with Congress to define tactics for defending our networks and systems, and codifying that strategy in legislation that has enough teeth to be effective while remaining flexible enough to adapt to a rapidly changing cyber environment. – William Jackson

2.  Agile government depends on cloud

Agencies have been able to speed up the delivery of citizen services, respond more quickly to inquiries and concerns, retire outdated and often unsupported software and hardware systems and redeploy existing staff to other tasks through consolidation efforts and the push to the cloud. So the next administration will have to keep IT consolidation/cloud evolution moving forward for a smaller, more agile government that can rapidly deliver services to agencies and citizens.

The federal government has shuttered about 20 percent of the data centers earmarked for closure by 2015 through the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative.  Many agencies have closed small data centers and gotten rid of outdated or redundant systems.  The next administration must keep that momentum moving forward as agencies move to the next but more difficult phase of consolidation, which will require more time and planning but offer a far greater potential for significant operational changes. – Rutrell Yasin

3. Big data means smaller government

The federal government is already invested in tackling the challenges of analytics and big data. From the Obama administration’s March 2012, “Big Data Research and Development Initiative” six federal departments and agencies announced more than $200 million in new commitments to achieve the goals of the initiative. 

But any new administration will have to continue to invest in and work with industry to understand how big data can be applied to help government run more efficiently in areas directly related to government operations including education, cyber security, fraud detection for healthcare benefits services as well as tax collection, transportation and weather. – Rutrell Yasin

4 Bring your own enterprise to work 

The new administration will need to adopt uniform systems and strategies for securing mobile devices, lest the government become a Wild West of competing practices and policies. Agencies should take an enterprise approach to maintaining their mobile applications.

Another area of concern for the new administration will be the new Gigabit Wireless initiative, which is promoting the adoption of multi-gigabit speed wireless communications in the 60 GHz frequency band. New technologies will emerge that allow wireless networking manufacturers to take advantage of this resource. Although recent spectrum set-asides have relatively problem-free, this new frequency section is orders of magnitude bigger and will need closer government supervision. -- Greg Crowe

5.  New tech will challenge, amaze next administration

One of the most important technologies on the next administration’s agenda will be robotics. We already rely on unmanned aircraft for high level reconnaissance, but in the next few years robots will increasingly begin to “think” for themselves and take on ever-more critical civilian and military tasks.

Another emerging technology is 3-D printing – the fabrication of everything from forks to firearms using printing technology. The Army is already deploying mobile 3-D printing labs to save time and money in making gear that is needed on the spot. -- John Breeden

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