“Agency leaders can no longer afford to be merely business or mission leaders — they must also be technology leaders, fully versed on how technology intersects with and advances their mission ambitions,” Accenture Federal Services notes in its “Federal Technology Vision 2021” report. “A digital-first approach must be fostered by the entire C-suite and manifested across all areas of the organization. This is how agencies can pivot from being reactive to proactive to predictive, how they can thrive in an era of unprecedented variability and complexity, and how they remove blind spots as they chart a bold course ahead.”
As we look ahead to 2022, FedTech asked government IT experts for their thoughts on the key technology trends to watch for. Many of the trends that took shape in 2021 are expected to morph and develop further next year. The key trends are zero-trust cybersecurity, the evolution of hybrid work at agencies, government modernization of network technology, and the advancement of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence.
Here’s a quick look at each of these topics, followed by links to articles with more in-depth insights.
1. Agencies Will Lay the Groundwork for Zero Trust
In September, the Office of Management and Budget released a draft for zero-trust strategy that outlines a process for agencies to shift to the new model. It lays out five specific pillars and has a goal of agencies achieving them by the end of September 2024. The OMB has targeted five key areas for improvement, including user identity, device management, network monitoring, application security and data control.
Agencies have been working on plans to turn those goals into practical realities. It will take time for agencies to make significant progress, and 2022 is expected to be the year when agencies lay the foundation for the shift to zero trust.
It’s important to note that zero trust doesn’t exist in isolation. “You need to come up with new cyber response playbooks, and you need to start looking at endpoint detection,” says Christopher Copeland, CTO for Accenture Federal Services.
“You’re going to touch everything from your physical devices to your network to your infrastructure, your data, your applications, and your authentication and access controls,” he adds.
2. Federal IT Leaders Will Aim to Make Hybrid Work the New Norm
The Biden administration has laid out its plan for government agencies to safely increase the number of federal employees working onsite while ensuring “maximum telework flexibilities” for staff eligible to work from home. Essentially, for 2022 and beyond, the government is doubling down on hybrid work, in which employees split their time between teleworking and working in a government office.
Experts say that to make hybrid work successful, IT leaders need to get executive sponsorship, meet staff expectations around technology, make it easy to access work and productivity tools, meet compliance requirements, and deliver equitable and accessible technology solutions.
Gretchen Brainard, offering portfolio leader for government and public services customer and marketing at Deloitte, says personalization and flexibility will be key to success as well.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution,” she says. “Some people want to stay in their homes for the full work week, while others are begging us to open up all our offices because they’re suffering from a social perspective and a mental health perspective.”
3. Agencies Will Make Strides to Modernize Their Networks
Agencies are moving to upgrade their network architecture and adopt newer technologies, but the clock is ticking. The General Services Administration’s $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract, or EIS, replaces the existing Networx contract and is designed to let agencies modernize their networks, especially via technologies such as software-defined networking and 5G.