Looking in my crystal ball

Although forward progress in the world of federal information technology is sometimes measured in millimeters, my crystal ball overflows with optimism. So, here are my predictions for the coming year:

The Office of Management and Budget and agency and congressional oversight organizations will adopt an integrated program-approval mechanism that will eliminate costly duplicate submittals and result in multiyear funding. This process will become so streamlined that government mental health expenses will decrease dramatically.

A federal agency will implement a fully operational IT system on schedule and under budget the first time around. General Accounting Office officials will issue a one-sentence report denying knowledge of the project.

Realizing that the foundation of progress is good communication, CIO Council officials will name 2004 the Year of Dialogue in IT. Managers at all levels will be encouraged to express their concerns and recommendations on a full range of issues. Employees will be rewarded for pointing out when projects are in danger of going off course.

Frustrated with the pace of cultural change for e-government, the Army Corps of Engineers will construct floating bridges between islands of automation.

Congress will pass new IT legislation notifying agency heads that granting chief information officers seats at the table in the cafeteria does not comply with the Clinger-Cohen Act.

Several systems integrators will decide that exceeding their commitments to their small-business subcontractors is actually good business.

A government technical staff member will spend 36 weeks attending 27 enterprise architecture seminars at taxpayers' expense.

The IT skills gap will no longer be referred to as "brain drain" because it conjures up disturbing images.

A high school student will win a prestigious college scholarship by explaining network-centric warfare in fewer than 1,000 words and with fewer than 10 diagrams. The Pentagon will hire her.

An IT contractor will actually lose a contract competition because of poor past performance.

Someone will explain why using IT to improve service to stakeholders/citizens fell from the No. 1 CIO challenge in the 2001 survey by the Association for Federal Information Resources Management to No. 13 in 2003.

GWAC program managers from GSA will meet in Washington, D.C., to discuss how ERPs, CRMs and SCMs aren't truly commercial software but require Mods if they are to achieve the maximum ROI. (Unfortunately, talking like this will still be SOP.)

Members of Congress will decide to provide sufficient funding to motivate agencies to integrate common functions across cultural barriers. But, then, remembering it's an election year, they will reallocate the money to local construction projects.

Lisagor founded Celerity Works LLC in 1999 to help IT organizations accelerate and manage their business growth. He is the program co-chairman for the 2004 E-Gov Program Management Summit. He can be contacted at lisagor@celerityworks.com.

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