Government still playing catch-up on IT
- By Judi Hasson
- Feb 23, 2000
President Clinton's 2001 budget request for information technology is a
larger percentage of the federal budget, but not nearly enough when compared
to how much the private sector is spending on IT, according to one industry
At the Virtual Government 2000 conference in Washington, D.C., where hundreds
of IT specialists gathered on Feb. 23, Thomas Hewitt, the former chief executive
officer of Federal Sources Inc., compared federal spending to private industry
and said much more money is needed to keep the federal government up-to-date
"Relative to the Internet economy we're in...that doesn't look like the
right kind of budget today for the environment we have," said Hewitt, now
president of Global Governments Inc., an IT research and consulting firm
he founded in McLean, Va.
Although a number of federal agencies were big winners in Clinton's $1.84
trillion budget request that included $39.7 billion for IT, Hewitt said
private industry is spending at least double that to keep pace with the
newest IT developments.
The Social Security Administration, for example, is requesting a 12 percent
increase in its IT budget. By comparison, a large insurance company is allocating
almost double that for IT a 20 percent increase.
Nevertheless, Sallie Katzen, counselor to the director at the Office of
Management and Budget, said IT money this year is being carefully evaluated
and spent, reflecting the president's vision for an electronic government.
But she warned that the "bar will be higher" when budget makers decide how
much and where to spend IT money next year.
Even so, John Callahan, the chief information and financial officer at the
Department of Health and Human Services, said his agency may be asking for
even more money for IT initiatives.
"We are IT-dependent to the max. We are not going backwards. There is no
way to go back. We are following the trends in the private sector," Callahan
The president's budget request is at the beginning of an arduous journey
through Congress, which must approve every cent before it can be spent.
To download a report on IT spending for fiscal 1999, 2000 and 2001, visit