Leaders must embrace Information Age
- By Jill Rosen
- Mar 06, 2000
Government leaders must embrace the digital revolution and revamp information
technology policy or they and their communities will be left behind, according
to a Harvard report released Monday.
The report, produced by a team of academics, elected officials and technology
business representatives at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, says
leaders must take eight important steps to make it in the networked world.
"Among the most important issues for [leaders] to address are those of the
information age," said Jerry Mechling, director of strategic computing and
telecommunications in the public sector at the Kennedy School of Government.
"Both the opportunities and the threats are very significant."
The eight steps detailed in the report fall into two categories: things
government leaders must do to transition into an electronic government and
ways government itself must adapt.
These are the eight steps:
1. Personally become involved in IT projects, not delegating all the technology
responsibility to the specialists. Become familiar with computers those
who use the Internet can understand its power and can better develop plans
to use it.
2. Use IT for innovative solutions, not merely to automate traditional services.
3. Use best practices when initiating IT projects.
4. Improve budgeting and finance plans to deal with IT issues. Because traditional
budgets are based on what governments did the year before, it's sometimes
difficult to incorporate new things. Also, consider shared risk investments
with the private sector to pay for new projects.
5. Do not ignore information privacy and security, but do not allow those
issues to paralyze new systems and services.
6. Form IT partnerships with grassroots and private-sector leaders to stimulate
7. Use IT to promote equal opportunity.
8. Prepare for a digital democracy, making it easier for people to participate
J.D. Williams, controller for Idaho and part of the team that produced the
report, said leaders must understand the risk they're taking by ignoring
"If we want to survive in the digital age, we have to become technologically
competent," Williams said. "There's going to be big winners and big losers."
The full report is available online at www.ksg.harvard.edu/stratcom/hpg.