August 22, 2011 By Sarah Rich
A prominent advocacy group for the IT industry is hoping state and local governments will turn to increased public-private collaboration, more competitive contracting and other reforms in order to solve budget woes.
TechAmerica’s newly released list of six IT policy recommendations is focused on the fiscal challenges that have swept across the public sector. Michael Kerr, TechAmerica’s senior director of state and local government, said the recommendations were made with the fiscal challenges of state and local governments in mind.
“We have kept the list fairly short because we realize that the attention of state and local governments and leaders is focused on their fiscal challenges, as well as the need to keep the programs operating at high levels in the face of potential budget freezes and budget cuts,” Kerr said.
TechAmerica’s top six recommendations are:
1. Implement policies and actions that will increase collaboration and communication between the private sector and state and local government in all areas of technology acquisition, deployment and service delivery.
2. Innovation in government programs, in parallel with efforts to move to more cost-effective support functions, must now be considered management and fiscal policy imperatives.
3. Appoint a strong, visionary IT officer with authority to align technology assets, operations and services across the enterprise.
4. Use open and fair competition for all state and local government technology contracting opportunities.
5. Preserve the private-sector role in deploying technologies and providing services to government agencies and their customers.
6. Leveraging health IT is essential to bringing IT-enabled efficiencies to the delivery of health-care services and for allowing Americans increased control of their own health and lives.
Kerr said the second recommendation — to move to more cost-effective support functions — is likely the most challenging of the six because the recommendation includes many different pieces. He likened it to moving the different pieces on a chess board.
Consequently the TechAmerica report also prescribed four additional sub-recommendations:
1. Allow for acquisition and operation of applications, infrastructure and solutions that encompass the entire government enterprise.
2. Streamline acquisition processes to enable more rapid technology and solutions procurement.
3. Reform federal laws, directives and funding formulae that present barriers to modern state and local government business practices and processes.
4. Work collaboratively to enable more flexible and efficient policies and practices in managing state and local government IT work forces.
“Traditionally those types of concepts [program management and cost control] were more in the realm of agency executive leadership and operations managers,” Kerr said. “But we truly believe all state and local policy leaders must be considering ways to sharpen the arrows in their quiver and using innovation to enhance management practices and fiscal control.”
Twenty-seven individuals from TechAmerica’s State and Local Government Board of Directors developed the recommendations — based on a framework that focuses on principles and goals developed by the board — to enable state and local governments to more effectively use technology and to more efficiently provide services to government constituents, Kerr said.
Kerr said he hopes the board will expand on its six policy positions in the future, provide examples of usage scenarios and analyze each policy issue on a deeper level.
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