Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Three Trends That Will Revolutionize Federal IT

ARCHIVES
ra2studio/Shutterstock.com

We’ve all heard about federal technology project disasters. Many of these disasters are caused by ill-defined and constantly changing requirements, a lack of a solid understanding of who the customer is, a contracting culture that at times incentivizes performers to bill hours rather than create a solution, and lots of cases of mission creep. The response has been to insert new levels of accountability and new processes. In many cases, these steps have simply added additional costs without really solving the core issue.

However, there is hope. We are entering a new era where at least three trends will lower costs and improve the quality of the solutions for the government: Software solutions are unbundling; new platforms are lowering costs; and Application Programming InterfacesOpen Source Software and the communities that form around them are initiating an era of continuous improvement.

  1. Solution Unbundling. Traditionally, software and the infrastructure needed to support it were expensive. In response, buyers wanted to concentrate their costs to achieve maximum savings. That meant buying enterprisewide software that encompassed multiple functions. Unfortunately, the more features and functionality you pack into a product, the lower your chances are of maximizing each one. So you had to take some mediocre and bad to get the good. For custom products, this feature packing often caused the entire project to collapse under its own weight.
  2. Low-Cost Platforms. We’ve all heard about the cloud and know some of the key players, like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. These platforms allow small players to quickly scale solutions as users increase without building out their own infrastructure. These services are greatly reducing the costs of developing new solutions and allowing developers to pay for only what they need.
  3. APIs, OSS and Communities. APIs allow others to build on the solution you develop. APIs can create a community of developers around a platform who are continuously extending the reach of the core product. When you include open source software in the mix, you also have a community upgrading the core product as well, and the cost is low or zero.

When you combine these trends, you have a new ecosystem that allows organizations to focus on discrete needs and then experiment and iterate solutions at a low cost. You don’t need to buy the full service that you find out doesn’t really meet the need only after you’ve already bought and installed it. While this ecosystem is increasingly the norm in the private sector, the federal government still has barriers it must overcome: security, procurement and a general fear of failure, no matter how small or how much you learn from it.

Despite these issues, these trends are not going away. They are already taking hold in many agencies and can only grow. Creating a culture of experimentation based on these tools and trends is key to improving the way government functions and to revolutionizing government IT.

(Image via ra2studio/Shutterstock.com)

Alan Pentz is a partner and co-founder of Corner Alliance, a Washington-based consulting firm that focuses on helping government clients build strategies to stay relevant in and capitalize on today's shifting technological landscape. He is a former Capitol Hill staffer and holds an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. Contact him at apentz@corneralliance.com, or follow him on Twitter at @apentz

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.