WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Things to remember as we move beyond the transition

On Jan. 20, Barack Obama will become the 44th president of the United States. For many reasons, his will be a historic president -- the first African American commander-in-chief is the most obvious, but he also is the rare president who takes over while the country is at war. And we can't forget the challenges he faces with an economy arguably in the worst condition it has been in since the Great Depression.

In this month issue, we take a look at what the new administration and the economic conditions and the atmosphere of change means to government contractors.

An overriding theme is “Don’t panick.” Yes, it is going to be a tough year as the Obama administration gets its feet under it, and the economy is sure to continue to struggle. But companies that succeed in this environment are the ones that understand their customers’ needs.

A top priority for nearly all agencies is saving money, which opens an opportunity for companies that can help the government eliminate redundant systems and introduce green IT that can reduce operating costs.

Paul Strasser of Pragmatics commented that the pace of retirements of legacy systems will pick up because these systems are expensive to maintain and operate. He didn’t have to say that companies that rely on this work for the bulk of their revenue might find themselves in trouble.

While a lot of focus will be on reducing costs in the years ahead, the Obama administration also comes in with new priorities including health care and building a more transparent and responsive government that will create opportunities for companies.

Health care will likely be a rich vein of business as electronic health records become more of a priority. Again, part of the driver behind this is the idea that technology such as e-records can help reduce costs.

A powerful selling point that smart companies can bring is to show how they not only can save agencies money but also improve their operations.

Many agencies might look to contractors to foot the bill on pilot projects as a way of introducing new technologies or finding the right solutions before implementing them across the agency.

This is a challenge and opportunity for government contracts that need to manage their own already scarce resources.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 16, 2009 at 9:53 AM

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