03/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Private Sector Lessons in Modernizing Government

Modernizing government - creating a faster, more efficient and customer-friendly experience through the use of technology - is among the Obama Administration's highest priorities. To that end, the president recently hosted dozens of business leaders at a White House Forum, so that they could share their insights. Drawing upon the lessons of that meeting, the following Government Computer News op-ed describes the next steps the federal government should take in order to harness the power of software and technology:

As part of his initiative to modernize government, President Barack Obama recently gathered leading chief executives from some of America's greatest companies, including many from the technology industry. The meetings were the opening salvo in an effort by the president and his administration to learn lessons from the private sector about how best to harness the full power of technology with the goal of increasing efficiency and improving customer service for 300 million citizens.

Over the past 20 years, businesses large and small have utilized technology to increase productivity and profitability, all while improving customer access to information on a global scale. The CEOs attending the White House Forum on Modernizing Government, including Sybase's John Chen, Adobe's Shantanu Narayen, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and Rosetta Stone's Tom Adams, shared some essential principles and private sector practices that can help guide the government's efforts moving forward.

First, they said, the administration should not try to solve everything at once. There are many examples of failed attempts to overhaul massive government systems in one pass -- Social Security and IRS were cited as examples in the meeting. Enormous and complicated legacy challenges cannot be conquered in single effort. Instead, they said, it would be better if the government divided these challenges into smaller, more manageable components with durations of no more than 18 months. These "beacon projects," which must include clear objectives and accountable leadership, would serve as models for later development. Working on smaller projects would also allow additional user feedback, which, the CEO's recommended, should be solicited throughout.

To read the full op-ed, click here.