The following is part of a special series of policy briefs by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars running until inauguration day. This piece, written by Commons Lab Early Career Scholar Zachary Bastian, tackles the need for reform in federal information technology.
As the world has become more dependent on information technology (IT), so has the federal government and its constituencies. Leveraged effectively, technical tools can engage the public, create cost savings, and improve outcomes. These benefits are obscured by regular reminders that federal IT is fundamentally flawed. It is too big to succeed. For IT to become sustainable, the federal government must enable change in three categories: 1) embracing agile development, modular contracting, and open-source software, 2) prioritizing small business participation, and 3) shifting the federal IT culture towards education and experimentation. The adoption of these reforms is vital. The current state of federal IT undermines good work through inefficiency and waste.