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Top 10 Government IT Predictions For 2011

Federal agencies will deliver on current IT projects, like cloud computing and data center consolidation, while tackling open government, cybersecurity defense, and privacy in the post-WikiLeaks era.

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Federal agencies in 2010 began delivering on key elements of the Obama administration's IT strategy, including open government, cloud computing, data center consolidation, a renewed thrust on cybersecurity, and improved IT project management.

The upcoming year will bring continued work in each of those areas, plus some new challenges. Action items will have to go through a newly divided Congress and survive tight budgets in many agencies. Debates over cybersecurity legislation are sure to continue in the year ahead, while open government could meet some pushback due to confidentiality concerns in the wake of WikiLeaks. At the same time, 2011 will be a year of execution on long-term projects like cloud computing and data center consolidation.

What follows are 10 things to watch out for next year in government tech.

1. Federal IT Spending Stays Flat

While the Obama administration continues to push an aggressive IT reform and modernization agenda, there might not be enough congressional political will to fund it. The president's fiscal 2012 budget will come out in late January or early February, around the time of the State of the Union address, and just as a new, less friendly Congress comes into office.

Obama suggested a three-year non-security discretionary spending freeze in his 2010 State of the Union address, but concerns over inflated spending have grown this year, and remain high. With that in mind, look for federal IT budgets to remain relatively flat next fiscal year.

How that will impact major IT priorities is less clear. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will likely ask for its own funds for efforts to catalyze cloud computing and open government. There will be a sure need for new funding for data center consolidation initiatives, and that funding will make it into the president's budget, but its passage by Congress later in 2011 isn't 100% certain.

Some agencies will also have hard cases to make on high-profile or struggling projects, such as Homeland Security's Secure Border Initiative and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Sentinel case management system. Financial systems modernization and other high-risk IT projects undergoing detailed reviews by OMB may not fare much better, and some could have their funding slashed.

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