'Unleashing' technology could slash deficit by $200B, report says

Wednesday - 11/14/2012, 2:51pm EST

In Depth with Francis Rose

Download mp3

Better leveraging technology in a handful of key areas could help solve pressing national challenges, improve the quality of government services and reduce the federal deficit by more than $200 billion. That's the main takeaway from a collection of reports that make up the 2012 Quadrennial Government Technology Review.

The American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council's Institute for Innovation commissioned the reports to highlight "the criticality of strategic investments in information technology to increase efficiency and effectiveness, especially at times of budget shortages," according to the group.

Anne Reed and Molly O'Neill, the two co-chairs of the institute's steering committee, and Wendy Henry, a member of the steering committee, joined In Depth with Francis Rose to discuss the reports' findings.

O'Neill, a fellow at the CGI Initiative for Collaborative Government and former chief information officer of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the quadrennial review can act as a guide for agency leaders as the Obama administration enters its second term.

The institute began work on the review about a year ago, she added, with the goal of "looking at national challenges that the federal government is facing ... and providing input into how technology can actually help make progress in some of these areas."

How technology can 'change the game'

More than 100 companies contributed to the series of reports. "There were a lot of fine minds that were engaged," said Reed, the CEO of ASI Government. The reports focus on six areas, including health IT, improving science and math education, and bolstering federal IT investments.

"Taken as a whole, I really do think that they show how technology can really help change the game and really help solve some of the nation's largest problems," Reed said.

In one of the reports, "Unleashing the Power of IT to Reduce the Budget Deficit," the authors say IT-driven solutions, such data analytics and big-data solutions, can help the government enhance tax collection and reduce health care costs. All told, such efforts would slash the deficit by $220 billion, according to the report.

Another of the reports focuses on improving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education to head off future shortages in those career fields.

Increasing the government's STEM workforce is not solely an issue of technology, said Henry a specialist leader at Deloitte.

While many agencies already have STEM-focused hiring programs in place, she said, there's still more work to do to standardize the process.

"What we believe is that the agencies have to use a more common practice," Henry said. "And that they have to look not only for trying to find the areas where they can use those skill sets — where those shortages are going to occur — but also how to nurture and grow current staff as well as the pipeline."

RELATED STORIES:

DoD should recruit from global STEM workforce, report says

Industry Chatter: New ACT-IAC leaders discuss priorities

More technology news