Outgoing HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt has been both, and he is leaving his successors with some straight talk about IT, and a good roadmap.
Putting Robert Kolodner, who has extensive open source experience, at the center of the effort, and building a public-private group to get behind it, will both pay major dividends.
Leavitt followed that up with a valedictory address where he correctly identified the biggest obstacle to progress, privacy, and offered some principles for guaranteeing it.
Lest you think the principles -- openness and transparency, access, choice, safeguards, accountability -- were mere boilerplate, he also offered a Web site that put some meat on those bones.
The best practices list is not a mandate, as some reports have suggested, but Leavitt is certain a mandate for health IT will come, so he lay down some markers to prepare for the transition.
What all this points to is a key year on the health IT beat. There is a consensus that spending will increase, a consensus on what we want to accomplish, and growing consensus on how to get there.
The only devil is in the details. And that represents real progress.