Why IT reforms have failed to make much difference

Government IT reforms centered on hot technologies have done little to significantly improve how agencies are delivering services to taxpayers.

Mark Forman is co-founder of Government Transaction Services, a cloud computing services company, and was the first administrator of e-government and IT at the Office of Management and Budget. Paul Brubaker is president of Silver Lining and former deputy CIO at the Defense Department.

During the past 16 years, IT reform efforts, from the Clinger-Cohen Act to the E-Government Act and the Obama administration’s 25-point plan, have focused on government’s inability to keep up with the pace of technology.

Despite those efforts, government remains largely incapable of gaining performance breakthroughs in line with technology innovation. Now, in an era of two major IT disruptions — mobility and cloud — we believe it is time to refocus IT reforms.

Most 21st-century IT reforms have been limited to technology, such as cloud computing, website consolidation, data center consolidation and commodity technology consolidation. Although we agree that the administration can cut IT costs by consolidating applications and infrastructure, we also know that these savings pale in comparison to the potential gains that could come from using technology to transform the way government operates.

Each major wave of technology improves productivity via new business and service delivery approaches. These approaches also result in infrastructure consolidation, but it comes as a result of better ways of doing business that directly support mission execution and with benefits that far exceed today’s data center consolidation results. So if we citizens are to get the true benefits of technology, there must be new government IT reforms that focus on three core areas.

First, there must be clear authority, responsibility and accountability for whoever is charged with transforming an enterprise. The current trend appears to be de-emphasizing the strategic transformational function of CIOs in favor of a technology management focus. That leaves no one to harvest technology opportunities that could revolutionize government service delivery. We need legislation to clarify who is responsible, what their authorities are and how they are held accountable for government productivity gains.

Second, there must be clear goals for productivity gains. The shift from focusing on an agency mission to adopting technology for technology’s sake is becoming increasingly obvious. That trend surfaces in the rush to find savings from commodity technology and the self-congratulatory rhetoric from some who have rushed to build apps for smart devices or create a social media presence that, in almost all cases, produces little in terms of improved mission outcomes and often promotes an already dysfunctional application.

Finally, there needs to be a viable, transparent common framework for creating new government operating processes — from how government serves people to the modernization of acquisition and financial transactions. We know that re-engineering is risky, thankless and hard. It requires deftly navigating functional and cultural obstacles to change and creating communications strategies to build support from all levels and stakeholders. Successful transformation efforts require resources, continuity and support from top management. Because many cross-agency opportunities are emerging, the transformation framework must incorporate the Office of Management and Budget and agency roles into a simple governance model that can integrate with the budget.

Seeking to shave a few hundred million from the IT operating budgets through consolidating commodity IT and data centers is good. But we believe it is not acceptable to spend money to continue to poorly serve taxpayers by maintaining antiquated processes and dysfunctional systems running on fewer servers.

It’s time for IT reform that refocuses political leaders, OMB and CIOs on using technology to measurably improve agencies’ missions.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.