Leaders Must Embrace Information Age
- By Jill Rosen
- Apr 03, 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.
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. Become involved in IT projects, not delegating all the technology
responsibility to the specialists. Those who use the Internet can understand
its power and can better develop plans to use it.
2. Use IT for innovative solutions.
3. Use best practices when initiating IT projects.
4. Improve budgeting and finance plans to deal with IT issues. Also,
consider shared risk investments with the private sector to pay for new
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 economic development.
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.