Advancing Technology: Industry Recommendations

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The Industry Advisory Council (IAC), which is committed to improving communication between industry and government in the technology world, has shared a set of reports and recommendations with the Obama transition team, according to a story by Federal Computer Week’s Matthew Weigelt, “IAC Tells Transition Team About IT in Government.”

 

IAC formed a Transition Study Group, co-led by Mark Foreman and Roger Baker, some months ago to draft issue papers on various IT topics.  It presented four of these papers to the transition team last week. IAC said it will provide all of its papers to Obama’s transition team in the next couple of weeks.

 

Following are links to the four papers, and a brief summary of each:

 Returning Innovation to the Federal Government with Information Technology.  This is the lead paper.  It claims that government is 10 to 15 years behind the private sector in using the latest technologies and processes to improve operations and observes that the federal government’s annual investment of $100 billion in technology is “plagued by bade management, poor planning, and a failure to use best practices,” and that it rewards caution, not risk.  It recommends creating a new “Government Innovation Agency” to serve as an incubator for new ideas via centers of excellence, a repository for best practices, and a reviewer for innovation in every IT project.  The paper also recommends that each agency create two porfolios of IT investment:  one to run the agency and the other to introduce changes to the agency.

 

Using Federal Information Technology as a Strategic Weapon to Strengthen the Economy and Drive Change for America.  This paper recommends a “strategic view of IT spending across the government.”  It claims “More funding is not the issue” but rather a better use of current investments.  It notes “The federal government is a major force in the growth of the IT industry,” but “government is reducing its investment in R&D programs” and its new acquisitions are backward-looking and reflect existing environments.  It says “investment in out-of-date technology constrains the economic contribution of the IT industry.”  It recommends a new senior IT leader “responsible for creating and executing a national investment strategy to spur private sector competitiveness and innovation” with the authority to “work proactively with industry, influence agencies’ spending, and [have] the ability to compel agencies to coordinate for broader benefit.”

 

The other two papers (and I’m assuming the yet-to-be-released papers) seem to be more technical in nature:

 

Government Federated Identity Management.  This paper advocates the need to “create single globally unique personal identities, independent of any relationship that individual has with a particular government agency or other enterprises.”  It seems to focus on the importance of inter-changeable identity management within the federal government so one agency can recognize employees (or contractors) of another agency.  It advocates a “centralized identity framework, identity management and credential issuance” authority and recommends that this be the Office of Personnel Management, since they already do most background checks on employees and contractors.  The paper gets a bit deep, talking about “Shibboleth architecture,” “UW IdP assertion,”  and “Internet2/MACE Signet and Grouper software toolkits,” so be careful!

 

Identity and Access Management.  From what I can gather, this paper differs from the previous paper in that it seems to advocate creating “a national strategy for identify management” that goes beyond federal employees and contractors.  It says the government must “standardize identity credentialing systems for travel security, immigration control, and employment verification.”  It does note that “The United States has always been resistant to a national identity card,” but that incrementally, different agencies have been developing their own identity cards (passport, e-Verify for employers, security clearances, e-health records, Medicaid, etc.).  The benefits of a national, federated, citizen identity card, though, might allow greater citizen access to benefits and entitlements, better manage emergency responders in disasters, etc.

 

 

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