U.S. Government: Big is Just Inefficient

by Faisal Hoque of BTM Corporation

Change comes slower in the public sector and government is generally 10 to 15 years behind the private sector in its use of enabling technologies. President Barack Obama speaks often of the “immense transformative power of technology and innovation” and how they can improve the lives of Americans.

Old IT systems have a cost

In grappling with a financial and economic crisis and stepped up security threats, government agencies must be more effective, efficient and highly communicative to protect the people and nation they serve. The antiquated U.S. government systems are extremely expensive to maintain and manage. Technological modernization is essential to transforming any and all government agencies and services. As with any business in the private sector, all government technology solutions must be built and executed from a 360-degree enterprise view to connect the dots between value and technology utilization.

Modern technology is key to creating a highly efficient, high performance agency serving the public interest. Like any successful business, government requires a transparent operating blueprint that connects the dots between financial reporting and actual business operations in order to accurately represent such information on behalf of an organization.

Technology is the key

Technology is needed to fuel everything from healthcare to education to economic growth. It costs more money to run an inefficient agency, and the “system” becomes a hindrance, not a help, to the people it’s supposed to serve.

The advancement and deployment of technology has transformed the global landscape, where nimble governments, like businesses, can compete with larger, developed nations. Technology presents major opportunities for developing nations that are not encumbered by legacy systems, which are costly and cumbersome to modernize.

Take Kenya, which is a rural country, ” … but by 2033 it will be an urban country with Nairobi receiving the greatest influx of new citizens,” predicts Wolfgang Fengler, the World Bank’s lead economist in the African nation. Kenyan newspapers and television networks boast ads for a “technopolis” called Konza City, which is inspired by Silicon Valley. The $10 billion project, spearheaded by the government through the Ministry of Information and Communication, will be built on a 5,000-acre parcel, some 37 miles south of Nairobi.

In the U.S., the intrinsic hope tied to the 2009 hire of Vivek Kundra as the nation’s first CIO was quickly crushed when he resigned after two and a half years on the job. Kundra didn’t stay with the Obama administration long enough to execute the 25 Point Implementation Plan To Reform Federal Information Technology Management that he unveiled in December 2010. This was supposed to be an 18-month strategy to improve government efficiency, effectiveness, and service delivery.

President Obama had anointed Kundra to use “the power of technology to improve performance and lower the cost of government operations.” The implementation plan is part of a larger effort by the Obama administration to tackle widespread, ongoing, nagging federal technology woes. The U.S. government lags miserably behind the gains of the private sector, despite investing more than $600 billion on Internet technology over the past decade.

Technology is paramount for public sector agencies to work effectively, and efficient management of everything from infrastructure to software to cloudware to the end-user experience is essential to ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars.

The persistent problems stem from numerous inefficiencies caused by non-converged oversight, insufficient (or nonexistent) management, deficient accountability structures and spending programs that fail to perform as promised. The U.S. government wrestles with the unmet need for investment management, efficiency, reorganization and integration. Ineffective management can thwart achievement of milestones and potentially lead to failure of overall, system-wide goals.

The Full Monte

An operating blueprint provides two strategic enablers: 360-degree enterprise models, and impact analyses and scenarios for true value creation. The 360-degree models can be of a process, an organization or a technology with the ability to proactively visualize the end-to-end goals and execution strategies before and during the implementation of costly and often irreversible strategies that can hamper goals.

In government, as in business, these models create the opportunity to ask “what-if” and test scenarios that help vet problems and issues ahead of major financial commitments. Impact analyses and scenarios create multiple output scenarios, evaluate the end-to-end impact of each scenario, and arrive at the optimal solution.

An operating blueprint allows everyone in an enterprise, public as well as private, to work together based on converged intelligence of market opportunities, execution capabilities and business model differentiations. Make no mistake, every government is a big organization with a huge budget, a management hierarchy and stakeholders.

And any large organization in today’s complex environment requires collaborative execution. Unless you have a collaborative way of coming up with a strategy and also the operational execution of that strategy, the organization will fail to create value. Therefore, every governmental agency must create a collaborative management structure driven from an inter-connected 360? enterprise model to execute the operational plan.

Faisal Hoque is the founder and CEO of BTM Corporation. He is an internationally known entrepreneur, thought leader, and was named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Technology. A former senior executive at GE and other multi-nationals, Hoque has written five management books, established a research think tank, the BTM Institute, and become a leading authority on CONVERGENCE, innovation, and sustainable growth. His latest book, “The Power of Convergence,” is now available.