IT Challenges for the Next President

As we kick off a new year and a new presidency — President-elect Barack Obama officially takes office Jan. 20 — we undoubtedly face new challenges. These challenges come in all shapes and sizes, from dealing with the financial crisis to ensuring an effective transition to digital TV. Yet, despite their diverse nature, many of these issues have one thing in common: information technology.

In November, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) created lists of the most important issues facing the U.S. government in 2009, divided into categories such as urgent national matters, agency-specific concerns and cost-cutting initiatives. Not only does technology play a prominent role in each area, but the GAO cited IT problems surrounding the 2010 Census as one of the 13 most pressing issues requiring the immediate attention of the next president.

“Many of the urgent policy concerns identified here are critical and time-sensitive and require prioritized federal action,” the GAO says. “[They] must be dealt with immediately.”

Clearly, IT has made its mark on life today, changing not only the daily operation of the U.S. government, but also its priorities. Let’s take a look at the technology challenges the GAO has outlined for the Obama administration.

2010 U.S. Census

What kinds of IT problems could merit presidential attention? It turns out the U.S. Census Bureau was planning to use handheld computers to help verify addresses, gather map information and count households for the upcoming decennial survey, according to a



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