Feb 10, 2009

Enabling Collaboration: Clap On, Clap Off

Light swich, ONYou get up in the middle of the night and go to the kitchen for a glass of water. You reach for the light switch and, there, the light is on. You don't think about the light or the electricity. You go about your business, quenching your thirst. You pay for the utility, and it's there.

The first recommendation from the Collaboration Project report, “Enabling Collaboration: Three Priorities for New Administration.” is to create an open IT environment in government.
Currently, individual agencies are responsible for maintaining physical IT assets, placing the burdens of cost and maintenance on government and doing so in a way that is fragmented and strategically unmanageable. At a time when limitless bandwidth, disk space, and computing power have allowed most large organizations to do more with less, government continues to maintain individual ownership and management of its assets. While many organizations have integrated applications around a shared services model, government manages applications and data inline with organization hierarchies and silos. This model is quickly becoming unsustainable, in terms of both cost and a lack of scalability.

...Today, the ability to purchase and consume IT infrastructure as a utility reshapes this entire conversation. Instead of talking about integrating the various IT architectures of agencies and departments across government, it enables government to own and maintain a single, centralized physical center of computing power, and take advantage of applications that scale across the Federal environment as needed. --
Read the entire report.
What if a program manager had the ability to tap into an open IT system, like dialing a phone? Need a database? Dial. Need a server? Turn on the faucet. Need to do some statistical analysis? Drag and drop to create a report. IT enables work, rather than adding huge overhead to getting something done.

This really requires an entirely--and I mean entirely--new approach to IT in government. After decades building dedicated data centers, creating multiple "one stop shops," developing projects by the appropriations process, and expanding IT budgets/shops the idea that you can turn IT on or off--and that it would be accessible to anyone in government--is remarkable. And very exciting.

The paper outlines myriad rules governing dot-gov that need to be addressed in making IT open in Appendix B.

Additionally, I would like to add that government will be challenged in loosing IT from government-created and -managed physical infrastructures by a requisite shift in responsibility to non-technical program managers. This means building competencies in understanding and using IT and creating modular, smart systems that can be easily accessed by non-technical staff.

Overall, though, the idea of not spending redundant dollars on redundant projects that are outdated before they come online seems like a good recommendation. Quenches my thirst.

1 comment:

  1. Hear, hear, Gwynne! This makes so much sense, including your notion that program managers would have to ramp up in basic tech knowledge (at least enough to ask the right questions and understand the answers. It's time.


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