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Hi everyone,

I'm not going to take too much time writing this diary as I believe an open forum here is the best way to approach this diary.

However, in light of the current fiscal cliff dilemma and the overall problem the U.S. is facing with the deficit and debt, I believe there's not enough talk on solutions that may present themselves to be workable long-term and possibly permanent as we look to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government.

I for one believe IT should be an important tool in helping resolve the long-term problems with the debt and deficit, if not immediately with the fiscal cliff situation.  As someone associated in the profession of business analysis, I can point out that in private and public sectors, new IT implementation and solutions can be a great benefit to an enterprise or organization if it steps up to the plate and takes a chance.  

In the teachings of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK guide), detail has to be made in analyzing an organization's operations at all levels.  This doesn't mean people are being laid off or that cutbacks are being applied.  This really has to do with improving operations in an IT sense.  In turn, any IT solutions, at least the modern ones, can really improve companies and organizations by one or more of the following:

*Productivity in the workplace
*Better communication internally (within the organization) and externally (outside the organization
*Stronger data analysis and reporting for decision makers to make more effective choices and decisions and at a faster rate
*A greater sense of knowledge
*More hiring
*Better overall control in organizing operations
*Reduction in unnecessary costs

IT really is a non-partisan tool.  As a number of us utilize Google just about everyday, we see the greatness in being able to find and locate information in such a fast way, even though there are those that criticize the company for its user security and transparency.

The question is, will the government, whether state, local or federal step up?  Is it a lack of funds or is it a lack of will and awareness of those that run the agencies that make a difference in our lives and the world?

Here are some examples and insight of IT in a government sense:

Barack Obama at AARP on Electronic Medical Records:

White House Forum on Transforming Federal Information Technology (IT) Management:

Deloitte on "Better Government Through Information Management"

Governments today face increasing pressure for transparency and accountability. Citizens want to know exactly how their taxes are being spent and what the government is doing to create value for the community. Information management (IM) can help governments improve their decision-making and operating efficiency. It can also help them deliver the accurate, in-depth insights that today’s citizens demand.
Improved information management can provide the insights necessary to support improved decision-making and long-term planning. It can also boost service quality and efficiency, enabling the government to serve the public more effectively. Citizens, employees and policy-makers now have a wealth of information at their fingertips. Through custom queries and reports, they can quickly zero in on the data they need, without resorting to manual processing and analysis – or getting bounced around from one agency to the next. This ground-breaking effort has taken government transparency to a new level and has been widely recognized as a standard for other states to follow.
Anyway, I'll leave this discussion up to you guys:

What do you think about IT in government?  Does it have a vital role to play?
Does IT need to be improved in your own local or state government?
Any agencies or organizations in government you want reformed in an IT sense?
Should government utilize IT more in how it communicates with citizens or is it a matter of just simply electing leaders that care?


What government agency, organization or branch would you like to be improved in an IT sense (including website)?

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Comment Preferences

  •  IT is also the source of huge amounts of waste (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in spending -

    executive who don't understand the tubes/internets spend 10x as much as needed on security, or let their IT gurus or even IT departments talk them into all sorts of make-work type jobs instead of making sensible/cost-effective recommendations.  


    Where I work, my laptop has to check in via the network once a month or an "incident" is created.  Since you have to physically PLUG it in for this to happen, almost everyone has an "incident" - which automatically generates as something IT has to "do" - even though they do almost nothing with regard to this issue.  Its make-work that looks good to pad a stat sheet when they ask what they do all day.

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 12:40:27 PM PST

    •  I'm going to have to disagree with you here. (0+ / 0-)

      Very rarely do executives spend too much on security, usually its just the other way around- IT is seen as a cost center rather than a profit center, and typically has to fight to get enough funding. A single compromised computer can quite literally end up costing your company millions if its left untreated and the compromise spreads, especially if your company deals with social security numbers, medical information, or other protected personal information.

      As for your example, while I cannot speak for your company, requiring staff to plug in their laptops once a month allows IT to push out patches and virus updates, verify that equipment has not been lost or stolen, check that the equipment is not being used inappropriately, and run network-based malware scanners. Trust me when I say that almost no one in IT actually wants to call you every month and ask why you haven't plugged your laptop in.

      •  It's seen as profit center as well (0+ / 0-)

        Take for instance Valero, one of the largest oil refineries.  They worked on developing an IT solution which they hoped would improve profitability.  One problem: The IT solution only helped Valero understand oil refineries and everything on the supply chain level.  The IT solution did not give Valero profitability.

    •  Depends on the company/organization (0+ / 0-)

      IT is very important for communication purposes but the reason why it can represent huge amounts of waste is that  the most expensive (not necessarily the most efficient) solution is adopted instead of the most practical solution.

  •  I agree with your premise... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... but for it to work, the government would need to be organized in a more "business-like" manner.  In your role as a business analyst and in my role as a PM, we both know the keys to any project's success is strong leadership and accountability (there are of course many other factors to success, but "buy in" is tremendously important).  If a customer of IT solutions (the government in this case) isn't willing to provide either of those predictors of success (it requires both), then money will be wasted and the projects will fail.

    As a business analyst, it would be interesting to see how you would factor in a potential leadership change every 4 years.  The solutions being proposed have to be extremely flexible in order to accommodate modifications to the functions being automated depending on whether a D or an R is responsible for the governmental function.

    I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

    by Hey338Too on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 01:34:23 PM PST

    •  That's why it's important to not think rashly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In business analysis, you cannot not involve stakeholders in every step of the process.  Not doing so will harm the business analysis efforts, whether you are working in a private or public sector.

      However, touching base on how the government needs to be organized in a more "business-like" manner,  I would argue this is better achieved so long as the government, whether local, state or federal understands what's at stake for them in the IT solutions.  Governments really need to work on their communications skills a little better, as evident with organizations like the EDD, which are very outdated and quite frankly in a need of major repair.

      However, the problems here, if not solved, present problems for the efficiency process for people, especially those who live in California (like I do) and depend on the EDD to help them when they need the support if they aren't employed right away.  EDD's problems are so vast it's not funny.  You can't even get to a live person it's so bad.  On the other hand, people in California need the service.

  •  IT is seen by everyone as an expense (0+ / 0-)

    Ie, "something to cut"

    No way in hell anything is going to get funded that isn't already funded in the current environment.

    •  It's an expense if they think inside the box (0+ / 0-)

      The goal here is to see what works and what doesn't work.  Even IT solutions as they are adopted don't always work.  

      Hence, the need for business analysis.

      •  As someone who has spent over 20 years in IT (0+ / 0-)

        I see no evidence at all that the people with the money (Congress) are capable of business analysis of the sort you are talking about.

        Within individual departments, if they can find the money within their existing budgets, yes, there are some gains to be made.  But it will be entirely based on the local management and what slack they might have in budgets (or what short term ROI might justify an upfront expense and belt tightening now for a recovery of the cost later)

        •  Business Analysis depends on the scope (0+ / 0-)

          You're misinterpreting what business analysis is.  It only serves the needs of the client, not the needs of the consultant or analyst in charge.  All focus is on the stakeholders.

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