Gooden: Partnering with government 'key to the kingdom'

Acting in partnership with government customers "is the key to the kingdom," a Lockheed Martin Corp. executive told information technology industry executives today at the IRMCO conference in Cambridge, Md.

Government information technology has changed more in the last 10 years than in the previous 30, said Linda Gooden, president of Lockheed Martin Information Technology.

Those changes initially focused on the use of commercial technologies and speeding up procurements. In the mid-1990s, the focus turned toward measuring results. And today, more than ever, IT contractors must understand their customers' goals and requirements in order to succeed, Gooden said.

That means making sure their customers' business cases for IT projects have sound strategic goals and performance goals and measures, Gooden said.

But some e-government IT projects that needed sound business cases did not initially enthuse the private sector because of their low dollar values, Gooden said. However, the Office of Management and Budget believed that industry would invest in the projects early on and later see greater returns, she said.

"The jury is still out, but some [of those projects] are showing results," Gooden said. She noted that 60 million people have used the Internal Revenue Service's electronic tax filing service. OMB's efforts to market e-government initiatives to agencies and citizens will improve the chances that other projects will be similarly successful, she said.

Gooden also said she sees increasing interest in share-in-savings contracting among her government customers. With share in savings, the private-sector contractor pays for development of a project, such as a new IT system, and is paid out of the savings or revenue it generates for the agency.

There are plenty of opportunities to move existing work to share-in-savings contracts, Gooden said. Large development projects should not move to share in savings, but many cost-plus-fixed fee contracts that include IT services could move to share-in-savings, she said.

"I think it's a very good initiative, moving away from a cost-plus mindset to continually look for efficiencies [instead]," Gooden said.

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