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Overheard at FOSE

"I'm a little nervous about this blogging thing, but I'll do it as soon as they get me blogged up." | Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, about starting his own blog on the Web site.

Every technology solution has "a constituency questioning the utility and ethics of it, so policy swirls around the CIOs office like never before." | Scott Hastings, CIO for U.S. Visit at the Homeland Security Department

"The network is under attack, and we ain't seen nothing yet." | Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems Inc.

"Security is an art. We're only going to be one or two steps ahead of the hackers or rogue nations constantly." | John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems Inc.

Rohleder: Best is yet to come

Government has made substantial progress in getting citizen services online, but greater effort will be needed if it is to catch the next wave of technology, the head of Accenture's government group said at FOSE in Washington last month.

Federal, state and local e-government initiatives, such as electronic procurement and tax-filing systems, along with mandates that government agencies use common technology platforms for interoperability and data sharing, have paved the road for more comprehensive projects, said Stephen Rohleder, chief executive of the government operating group at Accenture Ltd. of Hamilton, Bermuda.

He made his comments after a presentation at the FOSE trade show, which is produced by PostNewsweek Tech Media, publisher of Washington Technology.

"If you fast-forward two or three years from now, there will be more exploitation of technology to solve some of the business issues that government is dealing with," Rohleder said. "That's a strong message that government [needs] to continue to invest in technologies, which translates into opportunities for systems integrators and any other businesses that want to work with government."

Several federal agencies, including the Defense Logistics Agency, the Education Department, the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service, are beginning to develop the next level of service-oriented technology platforms, Rohleder said.

"Federal government is actually getting more and more sensitive to that customer-centric, citizen-centric focus," Rohleder said.

McNealy: Take a Java break

Urging government agencies to "join mankind," Sun Microsystems Inc.'s chief executive officer touted Java technologies as the best way to deploy secure government networks.

"Name one Java virus," Scott McNealy challenged his audience at FOSE. There are none, "not because there's not an installed base, and it's not because [Java] doesn't run on every device running on every microprocessor and every operating system, from smart card to supercomputer," he said. "It's because nobody has figured out yet how to write a Java virus."

According to McNealy, 1.5 billion Java devices, including 500 million smart cards running Java, are deployed worldwide. He said that in February, other network platforms sustained $73.5 billion in damages from viruses and worms.

With radio frequency identification pilot projects beginning in the Defense Department, the network is growing. Inanimate objects such as military supplies will communicate with government networks. The challenge, McNealy said, is to develop a trusted network-computing platform.

"The worst job on the planet right now is running a data center," he said.

Government takes tech lead

Once a technology laggard, government is beginning to pioneer solutions that will make agencies more productive and help drive the overall economy, the chief executive officer of Cisco Systems Inc. said at FOSE.

"Government is starting to lead in its implementation of technology to change process," said Cisco CEO John Chambers.

The trend began about seven years ago and has begun to pick up speed, he said, citing the Defense Department's network-centric operations initiative as an example of government leading the way in technology innovation.

But Chambers warned that implementing new technologies without first streamlining business processes could backfire on agencies and their integrators.

In 2003, Cisco studied the impact of technology on 300 organizations and found that network-enabled applications, combined with appropriate changes in business processes, could increase productivity up to five times. Although modifying business practices before deploying applications could reduce costs by up to 30 percent, the study said, if groups deploy network-enabled applications before changing relevant business practices, costs could increase by up to 9 percent.

"There are some agencies ... that threw a lot of money at IT and didn't get productivity increases," Chambers said. "If you don't change processes or you don't get buy-in from the organization to change ... you don't get the productivity increases."

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