(now the National Partnership for Reinventing Government) and to develop shared approaches and services across agencies, and the Information Technology Resources Board to provide independent assessment to assist in development of selected major information systems.
Despite substantial investments, agencies still face many problems where today's information technology does not meet their needs, including in such areas as information integration, management, and retrieval; human-computer interfaces; collaboration and computer-mediated interaction; authentication, privacy, security, and reliability; network infrastructure, survivability, and adaptability; software assurance; wearable and portable computing; and modeling and simulation.
IT researchers are actively working on questions that fall into these areas. However, historically there has been relatively little interaction between the IT research community and those who operate and develop government information systems or who run agency programs. Agencies tend to rely on what is available from vendors in the marketplace or to use internal staff to build customized systems to meet their needs. By promoting dialog between end users in government and those performing computing and communications research, it may be possible both to accelerate innovation in pertinent technical areas and to hasten the adoption of those innovations into agency infrastructure.
The recent President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) report2 found that the federal government has underemphasized fundamental research in IT and has allowed research priorities to shift to near-term applications and problem solving motivated by immediate needs faced in mission agencies. A number of government application areas, including crisis management, were cited as significant areas for longer-term information technology research (Box 5.1).
A key to addressing the needs and interests of both communities is the establishment of appropriate mechanisms for collaboration between the research community and government information technology managers. Such mutual gain is an objective, for example, of the Federal Information Services and Applications Council (FISAC) of the National Science and Technology Council's National Coordination Office for Computing, Information, and Communications R&D. One major challenge is the definition of mechanisms for transition, such as testbed systems, that respect agency concerns over investment in legacy systems and risk. Federal IT
2President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC). February 1999. Information Technology Research: Investing in Our Future. PITAC Report to the President, National Coordination Office for Computing, Information, and Communications, Arlington, Va.