IT advice: Knock down stovepipes

GSA Office of Intergovernmental Solutions

The need to change the structure of the federal government is a common theme in recommendations made to the Bush administration regarding information technology, according to a General Services Administration summary of more than 20 public- and private-sector reports.

"The problem is that the government is organized to operate programs in vertical hierarchical structures, while the world around the government has already changed," according to the report.

The recommendations for change cover eight areas. Key suggestions in each area include:

Access: Build a clearinghouse of Web-based education content. Funding and budgeting: Appropriate $3 billion for use in multi-agency and governmentwide applications. Leadership: Establish a national CIO or secretary for technology. Performance management: Establish measures to evaluate cross-agency programs for important national outcomes. Privacy and security: Use investment fund to improve privacy and security interoperability. Procurement: Fully implement the 1998 Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act, emphasizing its use as a tool for creating a database rather than merely a privatization vehicle. Structure of government: Address widespread mission fragmentation and program overlap. Workforce: Agencies should devise clear personnel management strategies. The parallels between recommendations from the public and private sectors show that both sides agree on the basic problems and solutions, said Francis McDonough, deputy associate administrator at the GSA Office of Governmentwide Policy's Office of Intergovernmental Solutions. "It gives us a feeling of comfort that we're ready to move forward with the future," said McDonough, who co-authored the summary.

According to McDonough, two reports are highest in potential impact because of the range of people involved and the range of issues addressed:

The report released by the Council for Excellence in Government on Wednesday. The report co-sponsored by a consortium of seven private-sector organizations, "A Report to the 43rd President and 107th Congress," released in November. Other input came from transition reports from agency organizations such as the General Accounting Office, the federal CIO Council and the federal Procurement Executives Council.

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