Great Government through Technology

Posted by Ed O’Hare
on December 16, 2009

The Digital Revolution is dramatically changing the way we live, the way we work, and the way that the American government is serving its constituents; I think for the better.  Almost every day, I hear about exciting new technologies or innovations with the potential to produce changes in the way government serves and interacts with citizens.  The rapid pace of these technological changes – and the ability to harness them effectively – is one of the biggest challenges facing government today.

The government has already made great strides in improving the way it distributes information, provides services and communicates with the American people. That is why I am especially proud to be leading the Office of Integrated Technology Services (ITS) within GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. We help government agencies execute their core mission by making it easier for them to acquire the latest in technology products, services and solutions.  That is what I mean when you hear me talking about “Great Government through Technology”.

I started as Assistant Commissioner of ITS in April.  Over the past several months, I have focused on helping our customer agencies implement the administration’s IT priorities, including cyber security, sustainability and innovation.  But one of the things I am particularly thrilled about is the increased emphasis on government collaboration and communication.  That is why I am happy to be making the first of many postings on this blog.

I plan to post here frequently. This space will be used to tell you about trends that I see in the marketplace, my focus here at ITS and important initiatives.  But most of all, I want to hear back from YOU!  I will be looking out for your comments and topic suggestions, and though I won’t be able to respond to everyone, I will do my best to keep the communication two-way.

Looking forward to hearing from all of you!

7 Replies to “Great Government through Technology”

  1. It is great seeing “action” align with the “rhetoric” in IT leadership, and this blog is a great step in Open Government. This reminds me of past efforts when OMB launched their Solution Architecture Working Group, which provided a structure by which govt and industry could share “architecture patterns’ that resulted in implementation success of various e-Gov initiatives.

    Obama’s recent memo to agencies to leverage non-profit public services initiative may reverse a failed attempt from the prior administration to outsource this function. Current incentives in IT Acquisition do not reward bringing in innovations and proven solutions, but just the opposite. During last weeks meeting of the IT Acquisition Advisory Council (IT-AAC), one Cisco member lamented that the incentives must be changed if we want the defense contractors to start delivering solutions vs butts in seats.

    Ed, I suggest that you take advantage of this new public service think tank called IT-AAC and their emerging Roadmap for Sustainable IT Acquisition Reform. It is reviewing ten years of blue ribbon studies and root cause analysis it has compiled. The way forward will require determined leadership and a willingness to abandon past rice bowls and special interests. We may have the perfect storm that will finally drive the kind of changes sought when the Clinger Cohen Act was signed. It is estimated that the Federal Govt wastes $40 Billion per year in failed IT programs and cost overruns. We could fully fund your initiatives if we could prevent this failures by attacking the root cause of failure.

    Keep up the good work. We look forward to supporting you and your agency partners.

  2. It’s great to see GSA doing more to communicate about trends in IT procurement. With so many important innovations happening in the space, I think it’s of vital importance for government agencies to be moving in a similar direction. The ever-growing number of IT choices will lead to more and more complexity (and expense) if we don’t start paying attention to what’s happening outside the walls of our individual agency silos. I look forward to your posts!

  3. It’s unfortunate, really, that the cobbler’s children still have no shoes. GSA does a good job of telling the world how great we are, yet internally our own systems are being held together by bandaids. Yes, there are awesome advances being made in technology. There are tried and true COTS programs that we should be looking at too. The only way GSA has been able to keep going is through the dedication and hard work of their employees and in no part from the support that your office or the CIO’s office has given to us.

  4. You make a number of good points which I’d like to comment on. The first is my total agreement about the dedication and hard work of GSA employees; and for that I am grateful. I’m committed to making sure they have the necessary program, acquisition and technical knowledge to effectively engage with our customers; which is why we started the in-house ITS University program a few months ago.

    As for COTS program, we are taking actions in that area as well. Instead of developing an in-house Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, we will be using commercially available software – Salesforce.Com, to help us manage our customer relationships more effectively, and at lower cost.

    – Ed

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