The senior White House IT official, Karen Evans, said she believes software as a service (SaaS) can improve government IT projects and systems.
"Our track record is clear -- we are not very good at delivering our own software in the time frame set," Evans said at the conference. "We're also not very good at managing large projects."
Some agencies haven't embraced the service approach, often because they want hands-on control of software development, Evans said. But government agencies can't afford to keep developing their own software without sharing with other agencies, she said.
"We can't continue to maintain all of the things we have," she added. "We have to start shutting down some of our legacy systems. We really have to move to a ... service-oriented market."
As Administrator of E-Government and Information Technology, for the Office of Management and Budget, Evans oversees the government's CIO Council, comprised of Chief Information Officers from various agencies. In September, 2007, she testified before the Senate, about high-risk IT projects:
Each quarter agencies evaluate and report to us on the performance of high risk projects. These projects are considered high-risk, requiring special attention from the highest level of agency management and oversight authorities due to the size, complexity, and/or nature of the risk of the project, but are not necessarily at-risk. For example, a successfully performing project may still be classified as high-risk due to exceptionally high costs and or complexity.
Evans' comments represent a clear acknowledgment, directly to the IT industry, that many government projects are seriously flawed. Although she's previously testified to Congress on these issues, coming clean at an industry trade show is another thing entirely. Even more importantly, she suggests that SaaS may help solve the serious problem of late IT projects.
By legitimizing SaaS adoption in the government, Evan's remarks may well catalyze the entire SaaS market.