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Federal IT Savings, Or Old-Fashioned Spending Shuffle?
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Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
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4/5/2012 | 6:22:24 PM
re: Federal IT Savings, Or Old-Fashioned Spending Shuffle?
This can't be a zero-sum game - everyone has to be working together to go in the right direction.

Politics aside, the business of government still has to get done - that business costs money, but optimizing the spend should be a major priority for all governmental organizations.

And while the idea of collaboration between departments and agencies is great, I doubt that it will be all that effective until those in charge of the collaboration are given budgets to work with - governmental organizations don't tend to listen to folks from outside of their department until money is involved.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
JerryJ
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JerryJ,
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4/6/2012 | 7:08:36 PM
re: Federal IT Savings, Or Old-Fashioned Spending Shuffle?
As someone close to the problem (but not a Fed), I have to agree that there is ample room for efficiency improvements in government IT. But, don't focus only on the cost of IT. Focus, too, on realizing a return on investment that lowers the total cost of the agency, not just IT. Benchmarks by Hackett have shown that companies that spend MORE on IT than their peers also spend LESS on other business functions, and by more than enough to cover the higher IT costs.

Congressional law (Clinger-Cohen Act) and OMB policies require that federal government projects go through a selection process to ensure those with the greatest benefit are funded. How about favoring projects that a hard dolloar ROI, not "cost avoidance" or "soft savings." If a project is proposed to save labor, then lay somebody off when the system is in place. If a data center consolidation project is to reduce facilities cost, then reduce the agency's budget...don't hide it elsewhere.
EVVJSK
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EVVJSK,
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4/6/2012 | 7:11:34 PM
re: Federal IT Savings, Or Old-Fashioned Spending Shuffle?
"At a news conference, agency representatives "seemed more intent on talking about their unique initiatives and less focused on how they could collaborate with other agencies," "
Must be taking their queue from Congress in general !
EVVJSK
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EVVJSK,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/6/2012 | 7:20:05 PM
re: Federal IT Savings, Or Old-Fashioned Spending Shuffle?
" everyone has to be working together to go in the right direction"
You are likely correct. Unfortunately, the model these agencies have is infighting between House and Senate (and within both parties within those groups) as well as between Congress and Whitehouse (even the Judicial branch got into it this week). As with these agencies, when you merely cut off funding (i.e. tax reduction that took place in 2001 and 2004) you pit agency against agency as well as citizen against citizen for what is left over. Problem was, when tax breaks were decided(which was mildly popular and very litle risk for any office holders at the time), there was no corresponding legislation that reduced spending (that WOULD have been unpopular and likely would have limited terms for those who were not limited by passing tax breaks). What has been happening for the last 3 years is trying to close the barn door after the cattle have been let out.
Divegeeky
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Divegeeky,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2012 | 8:12:09 PM
re: Federal IT Savings, Or Old-Fashioned Spending Shuffle?
The problem I have with these numbers only oriented transformations are that they lose sight of the real issues behind transformation. The fact is that the Department of the Interior operates many remote locations that will not benefit from realignment or even worse will lose their only on-site technicians due to the regionalization of IT support. The main issue with the tranformation goals is that they are attempting to place models of successful corporate or Department of Defense tranformations into agencies that operate with significantly reduced infrastructure capabilities.

You cannot expect to use the carbon copy corporate model of centralization of IT assets to the real world operations of the Department of the Interior. Yes, savings need to be realized however more savings will be realized in realigning those positions related to management and oversight rather than focusing on regionalizing or centralizing support operations.


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