Guide gets IT projects going

Government officials who want to harness their organization's vast information resources in innovative ways have a new management road map to help them.

Last week, the Center for Technology in Government debuted the Insider's Guide to Using Information in Government, a Web-based resource that provides a framework for information technology managers to use in planning and evaluating projects.

"Getting them started is always the hard part," said Richard Delaney, an e-government management consultant based in Washington, D.C. Officials often are intrigued by the possibility of a new application, "but then it degenerates because they don't know how to proceed," Delaney said.

The guide is the outgrowth of lessons learned from CTG's three-year effort to solve the practical problems of eight New York state agencies that were building business plans to develop new information systems.

Among the case studies, for example, is a description of how the Office of the State Comptroller's Division of Municipal Affairs developed new ways to capture and organize information so the agency could be a more effective service organization rather than strictly a regulatory one.

As government organizations rush to embrace the vision of delivering services electronically, the complexity of initiating new ways of doing business often overwhelms department heads and their staffs. CTG, part of Albany State University of New York, helps officials in the early stages of project definition create a business plan for their initiatives, CTG director Sharon Dawes said.

"What's useful is not necessarily to shape the answers, but shape the questions," Delaney said. The CTG effort is valuable, he said, because it shows officials that there are common approaches for developing their unique ideas.

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