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After years of toiling below program leaders' radar, knowledge management systems are quickly evolving as a tool to boost the visibility of agency policy-making and monitor program effectiveness.

For example, Maynard, Mass.-based collaboration vendor SiteScape Inc. is marketing a new program management module that layers over its knowledge management and collaboration platform to provide a dashboard view of the status of various program activities — such as action items — to program managers.

"It will give a program manager a summary of things...that are running smoothly or not, and the manager can drill down to find out what might be driving a red flag, such as a missed due date or cost overrun," said Chris Pressley, SiteScape's vice president of engineering.

The Navy's Tactical Information Technology Integration Program Office is using SiteScape to help one of its customers better manage a program.

"Within the workflow, as things go delinquent, the project lead gets an e-mail [message] of all the things that are delinquent," said Jeffrey Thompson, technical services director for the Navy program office in Cherry Point, N.C. "There is accountability. At the next meeting, they don't spend half the meeting trying to decide why they made a decision."

Meanwhile, business intelligence vendors — whose products analyze structured data that gets stored in databases — also are focusing on collecting crucial data gathered from far-flung repositories to present to high-level officials via a dashboard view.

Cognos Inc., Business Objects SA and Informatica Corp. are targeting this evolving notion of business performance management, or using business intelligence data to monitor the effectiveness of an organization's operations.

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