October 22, 2009 at 11:37 pm #83707
Federal News RadioParticipant
It’s been an awesome week of conversation GovLoopers! We are hoping you like the final topic in our 5 Fallacies of Government? series.
Today we take a look at whether the government is behind the technology curve. So we ask you…What is the real state of government IT? Why do some agencies and some programs still require the use of MS-DOS, Windows 95 and other outdated technology? Which agencies employ the developers who will revolutionize IT? What cool innovative technologies have your agencies been involved with?
Check out our coverage of this “fallacy” by clicking here. (Link goes live Friday morning.)
Feel free to weigh in on the other discussions we’ve had this week….
October 23, 2009 at 12:02 pm #83715
There is no one government. Even in the same organization the standard platform could be Windows 95 and old computers and there is always some unit with fancy Macs and iphones
I’d love to see the analogies with similar large corporations. Yes our technology is not as nimble and cool as working for a Google-type organization or a fancy marketing/design firm. But I’m not sure how different it is than GE, Cargill, or General Mills type company
October 24, 2009 at 6:07 pm #83713
I also have a couple thoughts about this:
1) Not all “old technologies” need to be replaced just for the sake of replacing it. Take, for example, mainframe and COBOL programs. Some of that code has been around longer than I’ve been alive, but it is the PERFECT technology for what CBP needs. If I thought that by using new technologies, they’d get access to a whole host of extra functionality that they’d actually use, then I’d be all for modernization. But modernizing for the sake of modernizing is more than just silly, it’s irresponsible and wasteful.
2) Despite what I said in my first point, I would love to see my agency start to embrace some of the newer technologies, especially as it relates to cloud computing and collaboration. But before you can actually expect that to happen, two things have to be addressed first:
a) Rolling out a new technology without causing Armageddon: At least with my experience in CBP/DHS, it is not uncommon for a group tasked with introducing a new technology to go forward without effectively testing compatibility. And part of that isn’t even their fault, because there are so many applications of varying scales that are used enterprise-wide, and then there’s still the databases and ad-hoc programs put together by people in the field. While I’m sure they serve their purposes well, the sheer number of applications that you have to ensure compatibility with to roll out a new technology is staggering.
b) Adoption/education is a huge problem, and many of the processes that currently exist in government are so convoluted that the current technologies are woven into them like some sick spider’s web. How do you educate tens of thousands of users? How to you encourage adoption across an entire country, and hundreds of ports of entry? I’m experiencing this first-hand with the application that I work on, and despite my best efforts, I still occasionally find out that entire ports haven’t migrated over yet. It’s a difficult issue to tackle, and one that I’m sure has been discussed in this forum before.
All-in-all, I’d love to see government as a whole embrace new technologies and find places to take advantage of some of the incredible new capabilities being handed to them by today’s technologists. But only if there’s a real need for that kind of change, not just for the sake of the change itself.
October 25, 2009 at 11:12 pm #83711
I do think that the government is behind the curve when it comes to technology, as the current platforms are outdated, stove-piped systems that help exacerbate inefficiency and redundancy. Although it has been my experience that government may get by with legacy systems, but maintenance and operational costs are skyrocketing and unsustainable. Best practices dictate ensuring processes are improved and streamlined, to better leverage technology. That way a true COTS solution can be implemented successfully. My experience also has been that implementing COTS is difficult because many in government think their processes and business models are unique, and they are far from it. I believe their is a true opportunity for uniformity and standardization for many processes across government, specifically in buying processes. Further, requirements are always a difficult challenge, as requirements seem to never be baselined for technology implementation and insertion. Some of the current waves such as Web 2.0 and clod computing offer potential improvements in the business of government management, most notably significant cost savings and increases in efficiency and performance. Until the government understand more meaningful change management, I think technology will continue to be an issue.
October 26, 2009 at 9:05 pm #83709
I agree the Forest Service is definitely behind. Most recently we are embarking on a new content management system for our internet pages. This new system is horribly slow entering the data & when trying to view the web page….well…that isn’t any better. Some progress. The Forest Service continually hires contractors and overlooks folks in house who could accomplish the job just as easily.
About 5 or so years ago we went to a helpdesk for our IT support. Folks now spend endless hours on the phone trying to get their PC repaired when they should be doing their own jobs. What a waste of money. So I feel like we are behind in the IT customer support arena as well.
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