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Lewis Shepherd – Federal Government Technology: Way Ahead and Far Behind

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
12:30 pm


Sherrerd Hall, 3rd floor open space
Princeton, NJ 08544 United States + Google Map

Food and discussion begins at 12:30 pm. Everyone invited.

Why is the federal government both Way Ahead and Far Behind in technology? From DARPA, which so often puts the edge in “cutting-edge,” to the Intelligence Community’s pockets of blazing invention and speedy deployment, to far-flung military early-adopters on the front lines, there are shining examples of invention and outside-the-box thinking within the federal government. In their specialized uses of high tech they are way ahead of the rest of the world – even Silicon Valley. It is a shame that in large part their advances are highly classified, of necessity, because the real innovators within government rarely get their due. And yet, right alongside, there is the mostly lumbering ox of bureaucracy, where federal workers as a whole are left far behind in access to the simplest tools of modern “knowledge work.” Outfits like GovLoop, the premier social network connecting the government community, are evangelizing Enterprise 2.0 practices and technologies aggressively and virally across agencies. Visionary CIOs like GSA’s Casey Coleman and the federal CIO Vivek Kundra are implementing day after day. But for the most part new efforts are blocked in agencies and departments by short-sighted leaders driven by cross-cutting incentives or constrained by bureaucratic lethargy. There are strategies to overcome the bureaucratic impulses and constraints on innovation and modernization, but their adoption is inconsistent. This talk will discuss the dynamics involved and the impact on technology policy, citizen service, and government transparency.


Lewis Shepherd is the Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft’s Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments, having joined Microsoft in 2007. He has degrees from Stanford University (where he was a Rockefeller Graduate Fellow), the University of Virginia, and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium). He has also been a guest-lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business for MBA courses on government/business relations. Lewis spent two decades working in and around Silicon Valley, but after the 9/11 attacks he focused on technologies to support the Intelligence Community and in 2003 accepted an offer to become Senior Technology Officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he spent four years participating in a remarkable period of innovation and reform for the intelligence community. Some of his team’s work focused on secure information sharing, better analysis, and introducing Web 2.0 capabilities to secure networks, including the first versions of Intellipedia and A-Space. Lewis also writes the popular “Shepherds Pi” blog

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