The field of information technology focuses on employing computers to use, store and send data. Within a company, an IT department ensures that the usage is productive, efficient and cost-effective. In the government world, such departments are similar but often face additional challenges and are widely believed to be less productive, efficient and cost-effective than their peers in the private sector. With that assertion in mind, we look at five ways that that U.S. government IT could improve.
1. Embrace Open Standards
For starters, the government should consider embracing open standards not just with IT but wherever possible. Open data as well as free open-source software could considerably reduce costs and improve efficiency. There are certainly security concerns, but let’s not forget that major corporations have those too. In addition, there are many cases where being slow to adapt in government has led to breaches.
2. Prioritize the User Experience
When it comes to IT support having to help other government employees, the statistics suggest that the government IT pros have to do that more often. This indicates inefficiencies in usability and reliability. If the user experience was improved, less assistance would be needed.
3. Emphasize Open Communication
The government would do well to foster a culture of open communication, and to be fair, it has made strides in this area. But it is still not up to snuff. Often, you have integral IT decisions being made by a very small—and sometimes unprepared—group of people. The government has invested in a wealth of human IT resources and often chooses not to tap into it.
4. Invest in the Latest Technologies
This is another area where the government has made strides in IT and elsewhere, but a lot of work remains. There are still too many legacy systems that require training that would otherwise be unnecessary as well as increase the costs of integration and compatibility. There needs to be a pipeline for continuous modernization so this problem is not encountered again and again.
5. Consolidation Within Agencies and Programs
IT in the government world is not as well as consolidated it should be. There is simply too much overlap, and this is not in reference to human resources. There perhaps needs to be an overarching body from which all IT decisions trickle down.
An argument can be made that the best way to improve IT or any departments in government is to have them operate more like their private sector counterparts. We often see calls for such changes from all sides of the political aisle. While there are additional challenges and such a change is not nearly as simple as thinking it, a committed effort in that regard would be worthwhile.