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No Excuses: Governing to Solve Problems

Originally published September 21, 2010

No excuses! It almost sounds like a campaign slogan. I like the ring it has. Yet, “No Excuses” is only one of four remarkably relevant tracks that are going to be the hallmark of this year’s ACT-IAC Executive Leadership Conference. (Williamsburg, VA, October 24-26, 2010).

The conference theme is “Delivering Transformation,” which is a timely topic aiming to address the Administration’s intent to transform the way the government operates. This has been a central thrust since the earliest days of the Obama presidency.

First, if you are not familiar with ACT, IAC or the ELC, here is a quick primer. The American Council for Technology (ACT) is the new name (2004) for what used to be called the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils (FGIPC), a non-profit educational organization established to provide a national forum where government executives could exchange information and work together on IT issues.

The IAC (Industry Advisory Council), in turn, was created by ACT to provide an objective and vendor-neutral forum for obtaining advice from the private sector. In effect, its mission statement is “to bring industry and government executives together to exchange information, support professional development, improve communications and understanding, solve issues, and build partnership and trust, thereby enhancing government’s ability to serve the nation’s citizenry.” (Additional information can be found at www.actgov.org.)

ACT-IAC carries out a number of events every year, but its Executive Leadership Conference (ELC) is considered by many to be the premier conference in the government IT community. It is usually held in October in Williamsburg, VA, and brings together close to a thousand senior industry executives and government officials to talk and to learn from each other.

In this spirit of cooperation and exchange, the ELC always has co-chairs from both the government and industry sides. The 2010 Conference Co-Chairs for the government side are Dave McClure (GSA) and Darren Ash (Nuclear Regulatory Commission), and industry is represented by Kathy Conrad (Jefferson Consulting Group) and John Sindelar (Hewlett Packard).

[In the spirit of openness, I am co-chairing the event’s Track Planning Committee together with Kathleen Turco (GSA) and Tim Long (Ziemba-Waid).]

So, let us return to “No Excuses,” the conference and its “delivering transformation” theme. We have structured the 2010 ELC around four tracks focused on the hottest topics in government currently. These are health care, sustainability, cybersecurity and performance. Let’s take a brief look at each track and describe what it intends to accomplish.

  1. Rx for Health Care: Is IT the Miracle Drug?

    Health care reform will impact almost every American. Implementation looms large, and will challenge agencies at all levels of government. Over $19 billion has been invested through the Recovery Act with the expectation that health IT systems will yield significant savings while enhancing patient care and improving outcomes. This track will address key questions raised by these reform initiatives, including how government and industry are deploying, managing and securing health IT, and will examine the promising possibilities for health data sharing to enhance medical care and improve public health.

    The sessions within this track are the following:

    • Health IT to the Rescue – Encouraging Health IT Investments and Implementing Health Care Reform

    • Harnessing the Power of Health Information Exchange

    • An Untapped Well of Potential: Extracting Healthcare Data from Current Federal Systems

    • Going Viral: Using Social Networking to Enhance Outreach to the Public

  2. Sustainability: Adapting to New Realities

    Energy independence, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and operating in an environmentally sound way are top priorities for the Administration. Success depends on government and industry collaborating closely and taking leadership roles. This track goes beyond “green IT” to address the ways government and industry are working to meet these challenges, as well as the ramifications of moving toward sustainable operations. Topics to be discussed include the broad directives of Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, signed by the President in October 2009, the sustainability investments funded by the Recovery Act, as well other policy and regulatory mandates. These mandates and investments will drive agency agendas and have far reaching effects on the federal workforce.

    This track’s sessions are as follows:

    • Moving the Needle: Leading the Way to a More Sustainable Future

    • Going Green: Making Government Facilities and Data Centers More Sustainable

    • Incorporating Sustainability into Operating Practices: The Dawn of a New Management Era

    • Building a Sustainable Working Environment: Addressing Workforce Implications

  3. CyberGov: Managing Risks, Delivering Results

    Securing the cyber-world has assumed paramount importance. An environment of trust in cyberspace has become a necessary condition for our future progress, while information superiority and situational awareness have become increasingly critical. Competing dynamics and the need to balance information sharing and privacy, interoperability, cost, risk and mission make governance and cyber security even more complex. This track will focus on finding the right balance between security and risk management, while securing the homeland and enhancing the military's war fighting capability, facilitating commerce, promoting health, protecting the environment and other missions of government.

    Managing Risks: Risk management is a critical challenge for all organizations and businesses. Risks can take on many forms – from privacy and security to budget and performance. Making informed risk-based decisions is now a necessity for most organizations. In fact, all agencies need to take risk while delivering services. The key to effectively managing those risks while delivering on program is to ensure the proper balance is achieved between competing concerns.

    Delivering Results: Producing value is at the core of delivering results and is often associated with managing the competing concerns in a way that effectively achieves objectives. As the complexity of our connected enterprises increases, delivering results will depend more and more on our ability to handle security in the cyber-world and our success in handling cyber security will be the at the center of producing value for the organization, business or agency.

    This track also has four sessions:

    • Securing the Supply Chain

    • US Cyber Command: Defining Mission within DoD and the Nation

    • Taking it to the Net: Security Boon or Bane

    • IT Optimization: Affordability with Security

    And then we get to the fourth track, No Excuses. While all tracks will have important components that address business intelligence, this track will be of special interest for business intelligence practitioners.

  4. No Excuses: Governing to Solve Problems

    With technology as an enabler, and the imperative of rising budget deficits, the business of government is transforming. The core business processes of human resources, financial management, acquisition, and information technology are changing to meet new performance demands. Government and industry are working together to more meaningful engagement and problem solving, with processes that enable better, faster and more informed decision making. This track will explore the drive to a more efficient and effective government focusing on results, reducing cost, and governing more as an enterprise. It will address the issues, new ideas, and possible solutions underway to deliver transformation and to demonstrate how technology is being used to solve problems.

    To cover its intended objectives the track will feature four sessions:

    • Open Government: Harnessing Creative Energy

    • Share the Data: Meeting Business Imperatives

    • Get Smart: Using Analytics for Better Results

    • Hit the Mark: Solving Problems to Improve Performance
In addition, there is a veritable who’s who of federal CXOs, technology managers and others to interact with their industry counterparts. Martha Johnson, the energetic new head of GSA, will be there; Joe Klimavicz, the CIO of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will talk about what they did to help address the problem of the oil spill in the Gulf. You will hear about how the Treasury uses data to track money laundering and help in the fight against drugs and terrorism and how HUD uses predictive analysis techniques to get a handle on homelessness. Representatives of the new generation of govies will be presenting their side of the “open government” thrust. They will explain how the use of social media is making a difference in helping the federal government do its job faster and better. At the same time, industry will be there to share their best practices in areas such as green IT, data center consolidation, metering systems, network protection and the use of social media.

It promises to be a fascinating event. No Excuses for missing it.

  • Dr. Ramon BarquinDr. Ramon Barquin

    Dr. Barquin is the President of Barquin International, a consulting firm, since 1994. He specializes in developing information systems strategies, particularly data warehousing, customer relationship management, business intelligence and knowledge management, for public and private sector enterprises. He has consulted for the U.S. Military, many government agencies and international governments and corporations.

    He had a long career in IBM with over 20 years covering both technical assignments and corporate management, including overseas postings and responsibilities. Afterwards he served as president of the Washington Consulting Group, where he had direct oversight for major U.S. Federal Government contracts.

    Dr. Barquin was elected a National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) Fellow in 2012. He serves on the Cybersecurity Subcommittee of the Department of Homeland Security’s Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee; is a Board Member of the Center for Internet Security and a member of the Steering Committee for the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council’s (ACT-IAC) Quadrennial Government Technology Review Committee. He was also the co-founder and first president of The Data Warehousing Institute, and president of the Computer Ethics Institute. His PhD is from MIT. 

    Dr. Barquin can be reached at rbarquin@barquin.com.

    Editor's note: More articles from Dr. Barquin are available in the BeyeNETWORK's Government Channel


Recent articles by Dr. Ramon Barquin



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