Lockheed IT bullish on outsourcing

The future of government IT lies in peer-to-peer technology, Lockheed Martin IT president Linda Gooden predicted today at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Maryland Technology Council.

"The U.S. government is spending $59 billion on IT this year, increasing to $80 billion in the next four years," she said. "Almost all of it will be contracted out. Outsourcing will increase by 23 percent over the next seven years" as the government workforce ages and retires.

Meanwhile, humans will be out of the loop for intensive computer operations, Gooden said, retelling a joke about the factory of the future that would staffed entirely by computers except for one man and one dog. "The man is there to feed the dog, and the dog is there to keep the man away from the computers," she said.

A third computer revolution now under way, Gooden said, follows the PC and Internet revolutions of the last two decades. The world is changing into specific-interest communities with virtual environments full of new tools that will evolve out of wearable computers, games, wireless phones and MP3/4 players.

She foresees millions of cell phones becoming a distributed wireless grid for sharing computing cycles. Kiosks will increasingly take over chores such as airline check-in, rescheduling tickets and issuing meal coupons.

"The digital economy will create new markets," she said. For example, the No. 1 global brand name is now Google.com, surpassing traditional favorites such as Coca-Cola.

At the same time, instant information access is being abused, Gooden said. "Cybersecurity is the fastest-growing market," costing about $5 billion in R&D this year to develop firewalls, intrusion detection systems and other protections. "But we have to balance constitutionality with cybersecurity," she added.

Instead of viewing society as man and machine, we should begin thinking of man as machine, she said.

"A new generation of applications will change how and where people work and how they protect themselves. Microwave e-bombs will disrupt electronic systems without killing people. Targeting will take phenomenally less time. By 2025, the Defense Department will have uniforms that can protect soldiers against almost any attack while letting them exchange intelligence and location data," Gooden said.

The most critical skill as government goes from stovepiped to integrated, she predicted, will be systems engineering training "to see the broader picture."

Susan M. Menke writes for Government Computer News magazine.

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