How to conquer the policy mountain
- By Rich Kellett
- Jan 17, 2001
"Top Skill Areas for Federal Business Managers"
Last week, I presented a column full of material on information technology
policy. Clearly, the overview addressed a huge amount of reading ["IT policy viewed through the GPEA lens"].
So, for the short term, I suggest scanning outlines and sorting through
the policy issues. This enables you to recognize what the issues are. And
many times, simply realizing that something is an issue can be a key way
to keep out of trouble.
First and foremost, invest plenty of time in understanding security
issues and then ensuring that security is embedded and threaded throughout
agency Web sites and applications. No single component solves the security
problem. It must be multilevel vertically and horizontally.
Second, because you will not have time to read all the policy material
you encounter, focus on scanning the outline and turning the pages to get
a feel for the policy and to identify the burning issues. This may mean
spending only five or 10 minutes on a document that is 100 pages long.
Third, file documents for reading later or for accessing in your filing
system (electronic or paper). Read key documents, such as the public-key infrastructure handbook, thoroughly.
Fourth, and most important, have a bias toward action. Act when in doubt
and try to create real value for other people. The simple honesty of trying
to help others, I believe, sorts out 99.9 percent of policy issues.
Fifth, when biased toward action, try to do at least what everyone else
does. In legal terms this is called "commonly accepted business practices"
and it justifies doing what you are doing. Most of the World Wide Web is
new to everyone. We can't foresee every circumstance that may occur. By
at least by doing what others are doing, you are in the right zone. It's
a fact of life that sometimes, no matter what you do, someone will target
your site and work extremely hard at penetrating it. Learn from these experiences
and try to improve continuously.
Sixth, if you are in a position to lead, you must lead. Otherwise, you
are better off stepping aside or at least supporting others who have taken
the lead. If you have a high-profile site or activity, own up to the responsibility
that it will be hard work for a while.
The Weband the best technique for harnessing itis still emerging.
Bite the bullet sooner, rather than later. Life will get back to some version
of normal. We all go through phases of heightened activity. To maintain
a balanced life, plan and act to create a normal working environment, but
just realize that sometimes there are peaks and valleys. Best wishes.
Kellett is founder of the federal Web Business Council, co-chairman
of the federal WebMasters Forum and is director of GSA's Emerging IT Policies