Jun 18 2013

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Innovative

Highlights from the 2013 FedTalks event.

FedScoop’s annual FedTalks event has become one of the year’s most anticipated gatherings of federal IT leaders. Modeled after the popular TED Talks, this event featured 20 presentations in a single day, each injecting excitement into the government IT community.

The presentations focused on innovation, Big Data, security and mobile. The day was loaded with great information and ideas. Here are just a few highlights from the event.

“I always knew I’d be caught.”

Those were the words of Frank Abagnale, the inspiration for the popular film Catch Me If You Can. Abagnale spent years slipping through the government’s grip as he cashed fraudulent checks and posed as a doctor, lawyer and even an airline pilot. His unlawful adventures were well documented in his book and the above-mentioned movie, but the most intriguing element of his story is his remorse. He has been working with the FBI to catch criminals like himself for more than 26 years.

In his keynote at FedTalks, his lessons on security and identity management were largely overshadowed by his personal story. He stressed the importance of serving his country and downplayed his own brilliance, says FedScoop.

“Had I been brilliant or a genius, would I have needed to break the law to survive?” said Abagnale in an emotional keynote address Wednesday at FedTalks 2013. “What I did was immoral, illegal, unethical and a burden I live with.”

“I owe my country 800 times what I could ever give them,” said Abagnale, who continues to work with the FBI more than 26 years after the terms of his release dictated. “I’m lucky to be in a place where you can get a second chance.”

“Big Data is going to be so critically important to us.”

Defense Department CIO Teri Takai spoke on the rather broad topic of “Leveraging Technology to Change Government.” Her presentation, however, did not disappoint. She likened the DOD’s challenges to those at every other federal agency.

“The leadership and transformation challenges that I have are not very different than your day-to-day challenges,” Takai told the audience at FedTalks 2013 on June 12. “Mine are just on a bit of a larger scale.”

That may be an understatement. According to FedScoop, DOD has more than 25,000 IT employees and has a $39 billion technology budget. She emphasized that on such a large scale, Big Data will be key to unlocking efficient processes and saving money.

“There are billions of dollars waiting for us.”

Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel delivered the closing keynote and got right to the point, FedScoop recounts.

“There is a massive amount of capital infusion out there for us to play with if we can capture it,” VanRoekel said June 12 in giving the closing keynote address to FedTalks 2013 at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C.

VanRoekel pointed to the Agriculture Department as a leader in this movement. The department consolidated from 21 email systems to one and cut its mobile contracts from more than 1,000 to just a few blanket purchase agreements.

VanRoekel also discussed making federal employees more mobile as a strategic way to open up tight budgets. In short, he emphasized that when times get tough, the tough get innovative.

Check out FedScoop’s recap of the event for more information.

<p>Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/senatormarkwarner/9026520349/sizes/l/in/photolist-eKDh2c/" target="_blank">Mark Warner</a></p>