Editor's note: New tune sets a new tone

Steve LeSueur

State and federal officials have long worked together on information technology projects, though not without some unhappiness. State officials often grumble about oppressive regulators who monitor how they spend federal funds earmarked for new IT systems that track deadbeat dads, improve welfare services or streamline other tasks.

The post-Sept. 11 terrorist threat has ratcheted up significantly the level of federal-state cooperation needed, and two top federal IT officials now say they are trying to change the atmosphere of distrust.

Mark Forman, the administration's e-gov czar, and Steve Cooper, chief information officer for the Office of Homeland Security, last month told state CIOs that they want to work with the states as equal partners in meeting the demands of homeland security and e-government.

"This is new for us. We've been dictators [in the past], and this hasn't worked," Forman said.

Realistically, few people are expecting immediate change. Many point out that obstacles remain. But all agree that a true partnership between federal and state government in establishing standards and working together on IT projects could dramatically improve emerging markets in the federal-state nexus.

Read Staff Writer William Welsh's front-page story to see what integrators, analysts and government officials are saying about the how this new approach will alter the government market, and which companies are best positioned to take advantage of the change.

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