May 13 2021

Agencies Adapt Technology to Work in a New Context

From the Census Bureau to the State Department, federal workers found that clever use of IT led to major successes.

Finally, there’s a bit of hope in the air. The vaccines are out there, the fans are in (most) ballparks, the kids are largely back in the classroom. Not all of us are back in the office, but you take your ­victories where you can.

Government agencies, during this long year, carried out massive projects that affected every person in the nation. Some of these took on new meaning and importance during the pandemic.

The Food and Drug Administration, for example, has always been the key agency in charge of approving new drugs and inspecting the facilities that make them. Forced to shift to remote work, the agency had to find a way to keep those inspections going. The FDA’s new Data Modernization Action Plan enabled it to use data from disparate sources to lay out a plan for in-person facility inspections in just six weeks. Our story “New Data Analysis Tools Help Agencies Move Decisively During Crises,” details how sophisticated data tools helped agencies with new realities.

Agencies Use Technology to Adapt to the Times

At the State Department, the team charged with building inspections faced the same issue — an inability to travel but the need to make sure construction projects and embassies were meeting safety standards.

In “Advanced Displays Help Agencies Tell Their Stories,” you’ll read how the department took its young Technology Accelerator Program and turned it into a virtual building inspection program with successful pilots in seven embassies.

Then there’s the biggest government project of all: the decennial census to count every resident of the country. With constitutionally mandated deadlines, any delay put the 2020 count at risk.

Fortunately, the Census Bureau’s plan to make this the first all-digital count paid off. U.S. residents who didn’t respond online were paid a visit by mask-wearing, iPhone-carrying enumerators, who could transmit data without breaking a single social distancing guideline.

With the help of the CDW•G team that prepared the iPhones for the census workers to use, the 2020 census was completed successfully. Learn how it happened in our story “Census Goes All Digital with Door-to-Door Field Operations.”

In a tough year, successes such as these are a reason to celebrate. Technology gave all of these projects a boost — the Census Bureau has said the 2020 count couldn’t have been completed otherwise — but the ability to adapt the technology when it counts matters just as much.

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