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Guest article reprinted with permission thanks to the blog Mr. Richards on technology, information, and people. Follow this link to the original post.

The U.S. Federal government's annual budget for information technology is apparently around 75 BILLION dollars. So, a couple of heavy hitters in the software vendor world, met up to discuss the Federal government and its interest in cloud computing. It even has an App store now (but does it have Scrabulous? Seriously, why was Facebook at that meeting?).

I am not going to argue today over how much budget is being spent on IT, whether the government is getting a return on investment, or how contractors make way too much money in this space (I'll do so in later posts). What I do want to point out is whether its a smart move to just assume you're plugging in software solutions here.

Its not as simple as getting requirements, putting down a design, then coding it. Although that would be super nice.

The government is a changing landscape - its ruled by a couple of financial and regulatory bodies (i.e. Treasury, OSD ) - that mandate it follow certain rules when it goes about business. Some government agencies do not have the best track record when it comes to being compliant with regulations.

So Congress got in their faces. It told them you better be financially compliant.

The government doesn't run business like Widget Inc. Its not in it for the profits - its in it to meet its mission. That might be to support the support the Warfighter (Army, Navy, Air Force) or just the Fleet (Navy). "Support" means doing business the same way, no change, year in and year out. Organizational and business process changes aren't popular, less you peeve off Generals and Admirals (at least that is how at works at the Department of Defense).

To be brief, SAP and other commercial software solutions are picked as being the best way to please Congress and the Generals and Admirals. Its selected, designed, and implemented to perform the same functions as the legacy system it is replacing. This is kind of like buying a Prius, then monkeying around with the fuel system so it gets the same mileage as that old Ford Taurus you're replacing it with.

To me, implementing a solution for the Federal gov, using commercial software like SAP, is more closely matched with designing an expert system. You have a lot of end-users who typically rely on a system or some subject matter experts to make decisions. These systems rule financial, logistics, procurement and planning questions.

Therefore, its my suggestion that the design and implementation of these systems occur as one would set up an expert system. However that goes.

Link to original post on the blog Mr. Richards on technology, information, and people.

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Replies to This Discussion

Great idea! Most ES experts agree building systems using an ES/BR approach cuts system development cost by at least 10%, and maintenance cost by at least 20%.

Let's guesstimate that maintenance is sucking up about 50% of the government's IT budget, which you pegged at $75B/yr. That's $37.5B maintaining legacy systems.

If we the people helped reduce that cost by 20% using ES, we'd save $7.5 billion. A year.

Imagine how many more industries we can bail out!

Thanks to Mr. Richards, whoever you are. You're the $7 billion man!

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