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3/29/2010
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Fed IT Urged To Emulate Private Sector

Government IT pros should follow the lead of private industry to improve project management, customer service, and accountability, report says.

The federal government can learn a lot from the private sector to improve IT program management and customer service and create a more modern government, concluded attendees of a forum comprised of both federal and private-sector leaders.

The government should take a more business-minded approach to how it manages its IT projects, as well as step up efforts already in place to increase transparency and accountability, according to a recently released report about the White House Forum on Modernizing Government.

President Obama spoke at the forum, which was moderated by chief performance officer Jeff Zients and director Peter Orszag of the Office of Management and Budget, and attended by 50 CEOs.

The Obama administration has taken a keen interest in working with the private sector to improve how it handles government IT operations.

In addition to areas the forum tackled, cybersecurity is another key area in which the administration is actively engaging with the private sector, which maintains and owns most of the country's critical IT infrastructure.

Most government IT projects are too long and not sufficiently integrated into business unit operations, and are usually managed by people who leave before the project is completed, rather than agency business leaders who can stay with them through their entire lifecycle, according to the report.

This more or less dooms them from the start, leaving no one really accountable for making sure the projects are successful.

"As a result, in comparison to industry best practices, federal IT projects are too often marked by milestones spaced too far apart and deliverables that fail to deliver tangible end-user value," the report concluded.

Integrating the business aspects of the federal government with its IT projects, the way private-sector companies do, can help improve program management, according to the report.

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