. "3 Interactions for Information Technology Innovation in Federal Statistical Work." Summary of a Workshop on Information Technology Research for Federal Statistics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000.
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SUMMARY OF A WORKSHOP ON INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH for Federal Statistics
this program is that by promoting interactions between innovators 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.
Building connections that address the needs and interests of both communities entails the establishment of appropriate mechanisms for collaboration between the IT research community and government IT managers. In principle, the right mechanisms can help federal program and IT acquisition managers interact with the IT research community without exposing operational users to unacceptable levels of risk. Also, incorporating new research ideas and technology into the operations of government agencies frequently requires spanning a gulf between the culture and practices of commercial systems integration and the research community.
Also relevant to the issue of innovation and risk in the context of government in general, and the federal statistical system in particular, is the value attached to the integrity of the federal statistics community and the trustworthiness of the results (relevant principles are summarized in Box 1.1). These are attributes that the agencies value highly and wish to preserve and that have led to a strong tradition of careful management. Such considerations could constrain efforts that experiment with new technologies in these activities.
Experience suggests that despite these potential constraints and inhibitors, both research and application communities stand to benefit from interaction. Introduction of new IT can enable organizations to optimize the delivery of existing capabilities. The full benefits of IT innovation extend further, as such innovation can enable organizations to do things in new ways or attain entirely new capabilities. Advances in IT research represent opportunities not only for increased efficiency but also for changes in the way government works, including the delivery of new kinds of services and new ways of interacting with citizens. Collaboration with government agencies also represents a significant opportunity for IT researchers to test new ideas—government applications are real and have texture, richness, and veracity that are not available in laboratory studies. Frequently, these applications are also of a much larger scale than that found in most research work.
While the workshop focused primarily on long-term issues, another benefit was the shedding of light on some short-term problems. Indeed, it is natural for people in an operational setting to focus on problems that need to be solved in the next year rather than on long-term possibilities. This suggests that focus on and investment in long-term challenges may be difficult. But in some respects, the near-term focus may be appropri-