No matter what issues grab public attention when it comes to the federal government, there is one consistent topic you should hear more about: the unending dedication of the people who have made government their career.
This is an era of great change for the government. Agencies are modernizing their legacy technology, increasingly emphasizing customer service, keeping up with the ever-faster pace of private-sector IT developments — and they’re doing this even with limited budgets.
The government itself is working on creative solutions to the agencies’ fiscal needs. It has turned to new vehicles such as the Technology Management Fund, which essentially provides loans to agencies trying to boost cybersecurity and improve their technology; or the Centers of Excellence program, designed to help agencies better coordinate modernization plans and develop new best practices.
IT Leaders Should Remember That Ideas Come From Everywhere
Creativity, however, doesn’t only flow from the top. Take, for example, the agencies working to comply with the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program, a Department of Homeland Security initiative to strengthen cybersecurity. In “SBA, Interior, Energy Find Different but Effective Ways to Deploy CDM,” officials at the Small Business Administration describe how they meshed their cloud migration plans with DHS’ standard on-premises requirements — a success that resulted in DHS pilots to test cloud-based cybersecurity tools.
“VA, SBA and NOAA Modernize Their Apps to Improve User Experience” discusses the Department of Veterans Affairs and its efforts to make agency application programming interfaces available to third parties while making sure that activity inside the network was still visible and protected.
And the Army employs an agile structure, placing blue-jeaned civilians and uniformed personnel in an open-office environment to design an upgrade for its unwieldy payroll system (“Q&A: Col. Darby McNulty on the Commercial Tools Behind the Army’s Payroll Modernization”)
Yet creativity and dedication aren’t the only qualities that government employees display on a daily basis; they’re also resilient. In our special roundtable, “How Has the Government Shutdown Impacted Federal IT?,” former federal CIOs talk about how agencies recover long-term from a historically long closure.
Technology is the key to modernizing government, but the employees, it seems, are the real — and the really creative — drivers.