IAC to Obama: Federal IT needs overhaul

As the incoming Obama administration deals with two wars and a major financial crisis, it must modernize the government in innovative ways, according to new reports from the Industry Advisory Council.

“This may sound simple, but it will require a new mind-set, a change in leadership, improved management capabilities and different methods for making [information technology] investment decisions,” according to one of several IAC reports dated Dec. 11. “As it currently stands, the government is resistant to change, taking risks and innovation.”

IAC’s Transition Study Group met Dec. 12 with Obama’s transition team. IAC said Obama's transition team is beginning to reach out to IT groups. IAC’s study group is drafting papers on various IT topics, and it presented four of these papers to the transition team. IAC said it will provide all of its papers to Obama’s transition team in the next two weeks.

In the four reports, IAC said the new administration must overhaul the government’s policies and practices regarding IT and take advantage of the annual $100 billion federal IT investment.

Officials must recognize the impact that the government's investment in IT has had on the U.S. economy, the group said.

It added that the administration needs a senior IT leader in the Executive Office of the President who will have strong decision-making authority. The administration should build an identity management system, the council said.

“The technology and know-how exists,” the group said in one report. “It is now a matter of planning, coordination, political will, resources, and a decision to act in concert with other stakeholders.”

Also, the government has a major role in setting up a consistent framework for identification programs, the group said. It’s a complex task that will require sensitivity, a need for innovation and technical expertise. The government also has to build public support, particularly because many people disagree with a national ID card, the council said.

The government’s strategy must protect privacy and ensure accurate data, while reducing identity theft and securely sharing information between organizations, IAC said.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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