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How information technology is changing the landscape for federal employees.

Does Tech Cost More Than It's Worth?


Despite the federal government’s goal to expand telework, mobility and other information technology initiatives for the federal workforce, IT doesn’t seem to be a top priority for most federal executives, according to a new study.

Meritalk’s “The Customer is Always Right” report, which is based on a survey of 279 non-IT federal managers, found that the top priorities for agencies are streamlining and modernizing business processes (52 percent), cutting waste (39 percent) and increasing accountability (32 percent).

In addition, less than half (46 percent) view IT as an opportunity, while 32 percent view it as a cost. Executives said IT mostly goes to support daily operations (56 percent), improve processes and efficiency (49 percent), enhance security (46 percent) and improve communication (42 percent).

And despite new investments in IT, many federal executives are skeptical about whether those investments will drive better performance outcomes, the study found. Just more than half (52 percent) of federal executives said they believe new models to support teleworkers and mobility will drive performance. Respondents were even more skeptical about the ability of other IT investments – cloud computing (42 percent), data center consolidation (40 percent) and big data (34 percent) – to drive performance.

Still, federal executives were optimistic about the opportunity to use IT to better support their mission, particularly when it comes to adding new tools to help meet work objectives (54 percent), overhauling outdated IT systems (54 percent), and providing new tools and services for the mobile workforce (37 percent).

Respondents noted that agency leadership could help IT better contribute to the agency’s mission by clarifying goals and priorities, involving IT personnel in meetings and decisions, and encouraging more collaboration between IT program designers and end users.

Reporter Portrait for GovernmentExecutive.com

Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.

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