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Government IT's Investment Trap

Some federal agencies are falling into the trap of investing in technology rather than IT talent, especially at budget cut time. Here's how to keep the two in balance.

to proven ideas and best-practices, and participating in peer-to-peer networks. The challenge that agencies face lies in transforming the inherently ad hoc nature of this informal learning into something with more structure and rigor. That's where social networking and collaboration technologies can support new ways of learning. "Social learning" enables the exchange and delivery of relevant knowledge quickly. It also brings people together -- inside and outside the enterprise -- who can generate fresh thinking and contribute to innovations.

3. Promote a culture of high performance.
Does your agency's culture inspire and reward high performance? To build and communicate core values that will improve the execution of any IT project, an agency must have a solid understanding of the culture as it exists today, and the desired culture for tomorrow. Sophisticated techniques and analytics can be used to evaluate the existing cultural attributes of an agency and support a course of action for transformation.

4. Strengthen today's leaders.
Today's IT workforce calls for skills that surpass mastery of core technologies. Agencies need savvy employees who are adept at program management, establishing productive relationships with procurement, and developing solutions with business customers and other agencies. IT leaders need to have the management skills to align priorities and shepherd resources. Strong leaders are essential to set the vision and help position the agency for future success. Many agencies are using executive coaching to build aspiring leaders, and some organizations are even establishing coaching as a core capability.

5. Develop the leaders of tomorrow.
Agencies must focus not only on building a strong leadership cadre for today's challenges, but also on developing a strong pipeline of leadership talent for tomorrow. A recent report from the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council noted that organizations need to place greater emphasis on effective succession planning, and specifically in IT. Planning for the future also helps IT organizations better align training, development, and other human capital practices to establish a deep bench of leaders for tomorrow.

CIOs face unprecedented opportunities to use innovative IT solutions to meet expanding mission objectives more effectively and efficiently. An engaged, empowered IT workforce, equipped with the skills, experiences, and values that reflect the agency's priorities and mission, will be essential to realizing the potential of powerful technology.

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