The IT revolution has transformed the private sector with radical business models seen in companies as diverse as Amazon, Facebook and Uber. But government keeps plugging along, doing the same thing the same way, just a little more efficiently. Says a new report, “Transforming Government Through Technology” published by ACT-IAC and the Institute for Innovation:
Despite spending over $80 billion annually on information technology, most federal agencies have seen little change in how they perform their work or interact and transact with citizens, businesses, and other governments. Where change has happened, it has typically been the automation of current processes or providing information through websites. The lack of change is caused by federal laws, processes, and culture that inhibit or even penalize risk taking, change, and innovation.
Although there have been tentative efforts to open up state data for the private sector to do creative things with, I suspect that the critique applies equally to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s use of information technology.
The paper offers seven major recommendations: Allow agencies to attract a high-performance workforce; reward success; focus on the customer, not the agency; and deal seriously with cyber-security; among others. Sadly, the cultural transformation is too profound for anyone to think that these recommendations, as well meaning as they are, will go anywhere.