Jan 11 2022

Zero-Trust Security, Workforce Planning Will Be Key Federal IT Topics in 2022

As agencies work to fulfill mandates on zero trust and plan for the future, they can turn to trusted partners to help.

As 2021 draws to a close, it’s time to start thinking ahead to 2022 and what the year will mean for federal IT decision-makers.

Undoubtedly, two of the strongest currents surging across the federal technology landscape this year have been the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the ripple effects of President Joe Biden’s May executive order on cybersecurity.

The executive order has prompted federal agencies to shift gears in many ways. One that will have lasting consequences for years to come is the mandate to adopt a zero-trust architecture for cybersecurity. Agencies are moving ahead with efforts to meet the requirements that the Office of Management and Budget has laid out.

Agencies are not where they need to be on zero trust, and this must change by the end of 2022 if agencies are to meet the fall 2024 deadline for making the shift. Agencies must also make progress on network modernization, hybrid work initiatives and other aspects of modernization.

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How Federal Agencies Can Make Progress on Zero Trust

Many federal agencies have been working on implementation plans for zero-trust architecture, as outlined in a draft strategy OMB released in September.

However, while many have these plans and know what their end goals are, the path there is still fairly hazy. IT leaders may know they need to move to a more data-centric security approach, but if they don’t have the right infrastructure in place and the team to support it, their zero-trust plans won’t go anywhere. That is a major hurdle they will have to overcome.

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Thankfully, IT leaders can turn to trusted third-party partners to help them map out and take the necessary steps toward zero trust. CDW’s recent acquisition of Focal Point Data Risk means that CDW•G can now offer federal agencies enhanced identity management solutions, a key component of zero trust.

Government agencies often are excellent at purchasing technology but may not have the expertise on staff to integrate those elements into a cohesive system. Many agencies may find that, as they work to implement zero trust, they need to work with an outside integrator to be the manager and orchestrator of the different technology elements needed for aspects such as network access control, identity management and endpoint security.

EXPLORE: Create a zero-trust environment among users as well as on your network.

Ensuring Agencies Have the Right Resources for Modernization

Another key trend to watch for next year is workforce planning, a topic that often can fly under the radar.

One of the major challenges that program offices at agencies are facing is that, as agencies bring workers back into offices and make hybrid work a long-term reality, many are finding gaps in staff.

This is particularly acute with technology procurement roles, an area in which there have been retirements and staff transitions that have led to resource allocation gaps. This can have ripple effects as program offices seek to get technology requirements into procurement offices. However, limited staffing can lead to bottlenecks in procuring and purchasing the needed technology, for everything from zero trust to network modernization, hybrid work and beyond.

This may lead more agencies to work more closely with systems integrators and technology partners if they do not have enough staff internally or cannot fill their vacant roles in a timely fashion.

It seems clear that 2022 will be an important year for federal IT leaders as they seek to execute on zero trust, make hybrid work more sustainable over the long term, modernize their networks and continue to innovate. It’s also clear that they will need strong and trusted technology partners to help them along the way.

This article is part of FedTech’s CapITal blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #FedIT hashtag.

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