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InformationWeek Analytics: Government IT Priorities

When money is tight and goals are in flux, process makes all the difference.

InformationWeek AnalyticsDeveloping and sticking to a long-term IT vision is extraordinarily difficult even in optimal circumstances. For public-sector CIOs, whose leadership is subject to complete overhaul every few years, the phrase "change we can believe in" takes on a whole new meaning.

The 309 respondents to our InformationWeek Analytics Government IT survey include U.S. government technology decision makers, contractors, and integrators. For these folks, the spotlight on the value IT provides is brighter than ever, as agency IT chiefs strive to stay nimble and increase their departments' return on investment.

"We're extending the equipment refresh cycle to use computers an additional year in an effort to preserve adequate funding for other priorities," says one poll respondent. Adds another: "We seem to be driven by where the money is--wireless and other funding for public safety--and not so much by the desire for effective, practical performance."

Three months into the new administration, 18% of poll respondents had adjusted their IT priorities. Others were in a holding pattern, understandable given the more than a dozen key programs that agencies need to develop (including cybersecurity, virtualization and data center consolidation, green IT, Federal Enterprise Architecture, continuous process improvement, business intelligence, the IPv6 transition, and application performance management), a changing fiscal picture, and a scarcity of resources.

One worrisome stat: Just 58% of respondents say they have the right tools to implement their priorities.

As we discuss in our full report, our advice is to pursue process improvements to free up resources. When the emphasis is on doing more with less and making IT more efficient, it's often not more tools that are needed, but smarter ways of doing business.

In our poll, 21% of those with information-sharing initiatives say they use Lean Six Sigma, and 29% use ITIL as an IT governance framework. Whatever approach is taken, the focus is on continuous process improvement (CPI). This isn't only a set of best practices--for many agencies, CPI represents a major cultural shift toward reliability, improving efficiency, reducing costs and resource usage, and improving quality and productivity

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The military is leading the way, with the U.S. Army launching one of the largest enterprise-wide deployments of Lean Six Sigma we've seen as a key framework for development of its CPI Knowledge Center. The Navy's Second Fleet Command, meanwhile, is driving its process improvements using the ITIL framework, which focuses on key areas of organizational effectiveness, such as customer satisfaction, service delivery and support, application management, and security.

Michael Biddick is CTO at a federal consulting firm. He specializes in ITIL best practice frameworks.

Chart: What's In, What's Out

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