Friday, December 26, 2003

Funding Shortfall?

Repeat after me, "there is no funding shortfall". So says Karen Evans, the USA e-government czarina (ugh). And you have to agree with her ... "There is no funding shortfall. We have nearly $60 billion in information technology spending among the Federal agencies. The goal is to spend this money more wisely both within and across agencies. Certainly, the E-Gov fund would allow us to quickly bring agencies together around citizen-centered technology solutions and is an important Administration initiative to which we remain committed. However, given that Congress has thus far funded the E-Gov fund at a lower amount we have the opportunity to focus more on cross-agency collaboration through existing investments." I absolutely can't argue with that. It's about wiser spending of existing money - reducing duplication, trailblazers delivering solutions that can be adopted by others, eliminating waste through cancelling projects, scoping requirements correctly so that the return on investment starts sooner and, finally, eliminating the usual reasons for failure so that every pound spent results in more than a pound of value delivered. Now the real question, for Karen and many others, is what are the levers that will allow the focus on cross-agency collaboration to come to the fore? Can funding be constrained in some places and elevated in others? Can performance rewards be distributed as readily as penalty punishments are today? Can the standards necessary to allow full interoperability be identified, ratified and distributed fast enough? Can the accent on co-operation be made clearer? Difficult stuff.

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