After experiencing healthy growth from 2004 through
2007, IT spending at the state and local level will hit a
bump, declining from $24.4 billion in 2008 to $23.8 billion
in 2009, according to Government Insights. Still, there is
much interest in enterprise software, system consolidation
and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions in the state and
local market, McCarthy says.
The National Association of State Chief Information
Officers, an industry association based in Lexington, Ky.,
indicates that IT consolidation, security, resource sharing,
Web 2.0, e-records management, and data and document
management will be among the top priorities for its membership in 2009.
Spending increases in the federal IT market are expected
to slow down in the next several years—to just under
4 percent annually—after experiencing an average of
growth a year for the last two decades, according to INPUT,
a market research firm in Reston, Va. INPUT projects that
federal government IT spending will increase to $83.4 billion
in 2009, up from $80.8 billion in 2008.
Baseline recently interviewed government agency managers to learn more about three key IT areas of interest:
green IT, Web services and data management. Here’s what
these managers reported.
EXPLORING GREEN IT
Numerous government agencies are exploring green IT. At
Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs, Colo., for example,
the U.S. Army is using a software solution from Enviance to
track and reduce emissions from buildings, jeeps, and other
military property and equipment to lessen the impact on the
ozone layer. Fort Carson officials see the Internet-based SaaS
system as a way to comply with a federal mandate to reduce
emissions by no less than
30 percent by 2015.
The overwhelming majority of green initiatives center on
virtualization—with respect to both server and desktop consolidation. One agency that has benefited from this technology
is the Oklahoma State Department of Corrections (DOC). In
the agency’s Southwest District, the IT budget is tight, and
the cost of providing Dell desktops for every parole officer
has been straining resources. So the district has launched a
desktop virtualization project with NComputing.
Today, eight offices spread throughout the district are
using virtualized desktops, allowing up to six users to share
a single computer. The solution has been so successful that
the agency is considering expanding it to the prison library
system, which would save costs on providing desktop services
“Our IT budget is nil, and this allows us to save $400 to
$500 per seat,” says Brian Thomas, the DOC’s information
systems network management specialist who launched the
project. “No one is using the full capacity of a computer at
any given time, so this enables us to get the most out of every
computer bought. We could put up to
10 users on each computer, but we’re keeping it to six for now to see how it works
out. So far, it’s been working out better than we expected.
“While going green is a great idea, it’s a by-product benefit
here. Frankly, we really needed to cut costs, and that’s exactly
26 what this solution allows us to do.”
THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DOD) IS USING TECHNOLOGY
solutions to serve communities of interest. These communities need ways for their officers to manage semantically
complex streams of communications-based data, as well as
to get the many databases that are related to their mission
to interact in a way that closely approximates the way people
use the Internet.
Fighting wars and pursuing terrorism threats on a multinational playing field—where a myriad of languages, dialects
and cultures collide—requires U.S. intelligence to receive and
interpret thousands of messages each day. Often, U.S. analysts
located all over the world are working to piece together what’s
hoped to be a fruitful lead. Some of these communities may
be dealing with up to 500 sources of authoritative data, all of
which are currently conveyed in more than 40 different dialects
This is where next-generation IT comes into play, through
the Department of Defense Net-Centric Data Strategy and the
Department of Defense Discovery Metadata Specification. This
approach seeks to use metatags within the endless stream
of communications to allow swifter, more effective searches
for critical information.
Traditional methods require sifting through document
after document in their entirety, and that process would significantly slow the government’s efforts to thwart a potential
attack on U.S. troops.
The need for better technological solutions to help
manage communications-based intelligence data extends to
the scenario of planning a U.S. attack on an enemy target
in Iraq. Currently, the military must interpret data relating
to weapons, geography, target specifics and the presence
of civilians. In homeland security or humanitarian assistance
scenarios, they often need to coordinate such data with that
presented by nongovernmental organizations.
“We’re not able to share and fuse information from these
various sources of data as seamlessly as we’d like to,” says
Leslie Winters, division chief for Joint Data and Services with
the Joint Forces of Command, which is based in Norfolk, Va.
“So the DOD is taking advantage of Web-based technologies
and metadata tagging to get the best information we can
from all these data sources in a timely manner.
“Many of these systems are integrated in a rigid, point-to-point manner that does not allow us to rapidly adjust to new
war-fighting requirements and new data sources in the same
manner as can be done using Web-based technologies. If you
go on a travel site to book a trip, for example, the site can
provide information from all sorts of databases to immediately
get you the information you need. That’s what we’re looking to
do with our systems.” —D.M.