From Tim Clark

December 1996

1996 Federal Technology Leadership Awards

We who edit Government Executive believe that people learn by example. We believe too that excellent performance by government agencies often goes unrecognized. The awards serve both purposes, and we are proud to be sponsors of the program, along with our corporate partners this year, Computer Associates and Northrop Grumman Data Systems.

Recognizing well-run information technology programs is increasingly important because of the new regulatory framework in which agencies are operating. No longer can technology be hurled at problems without careful planning, new kinds of return-on-investment analysis, and a lot of top-down examination of business practices. General managers, program officials and financial officers-people who are not principally technologists-are going to be calling many of the shots on technology investments in the new regime, as Government Executive explained in our September and October issues. John Koskinen, Office of Management and Budget deputy director for management, said in a recent letter to us that an important goal now is to "get agency managers to understand that the fundamental questions relating to information technology are not about bits and bytes but about management issues that require their input."

The technology awards honor innovative programs that have made a difference. They are described here in language that's accessible to managers who are not trained in technology. The awards program thus fits seamlessly into our month-to-month efforts to help readers throughout the government find out what is possible with use of technology. Whether we're covering the fast-growing use of the Internet for dissemination of information, or key applications such as geographic information systems, videoconferencing, records management and electronic commerce, we tell the tale through the eyes of federal employees who are at the leading edge. The rest of government needs to follow their example at a time when money is tight and the principal hope for keeping up with demands for efficiency and better service often lies in the intelligent application of information technology.

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