Network pioneers

One advantage that federal information technology professionals have and don't always appreciate is their participation in a special group. One of the main characteristics of this group is the general absence of competition among people who do similar work but for different organizations.

To get the right perspective on this, imagine the chief information officer of a large financial services company calling his or her counterpart at a competing firm and saying, "We loved that new Web-based e-commerce service you just launched, the one that makes it easier for your customers to get what they need while cutting your costs. How did you do it?" Such a conversation is unlikely, especially given how critical IT is as a competitive advantage in many industries.

However, that kind of exchange can and does take place among government IT professionals of all ranks. Why? Because even though they are in the same business, so to speak, they don't have to compete with one another. In fact, they are encouraged to work together and often have compelling incentives for doing so.

One example of this is the Bush administration's 24 e-government initiatives, in which designated agencies are taking the lead on important new IT projects and will then share the solutions they develop with other agencies.

More informally, federal IT professionals can share their ideas and best practices in other ways, such as making presentations at seminars, attending industry events or telling their stories in trade publications.

In fact, case studies — stories of agencies putting technology into action — are among the most read, and presumably most valued, stories in publications such as Federal Computer Week, which is the idea behind this special report. What better way to illustrate the opportunities and pitfalls of the three hot networking technologies and services featured in this report than to show them being used by federal agencies working with demands, objectives and constraints similar to yours?

You can even take this idea one step further. If you want to know more about something in this special report, feel free to contact me at jzyskowski@fcw.com. I'll do my best to provide any additional relevant information we have, as well as help you get in touch with the article's sources, with their permission, so that the information exchange can continue.

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