Aug 23 2022

How to Prepare Agencies for Long-Term Citizen Service Success

Federal modernization depends on advancements in security, technology, sustainability and development.

The role of the federal government in citizens’ everyday lives has drastically changed over the past two years. Between the pandemic, record-breaking data breaches, ransomware attacks and the shift to virtual services, federal agencies are looking for ways to continue developing their technology services to meet changing needs.

The Government Accountability Office recently released a new strategic plan that will guide efforts from 2022 to 2027 as the agency aids federal operations and addresses the most critical issues facing the nation’s government and society as a whole. National security threats, reliance on digital technology, online learning and education, and environmental security for the changing workforce rank as top priorities.

With these plans in mind, federal IT leaders should seek solutions that efficiently and effectively deliver on the mission while preparing their agencies for forward-looking citizen services.

Leaders should keep these priorities in mind as they guide digital investments, anticipate potential disruptions and scale digital learning initiatives throughout the public sector.

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Invest in Solutions That Get Ahead of Cyberattacks

Federal agencies depend on technology systems to carry out operations and to process, maintain and report essential information. These systems are highly complex and dynamic, which increases the difficulty of identifying, managing and protecting their numerous operating systems, applications and devices.

With this greater connectivity, threat actors are increasingly ready and capable of conducting cyberattacks on agencies and critical infrastructure that could be disruptive and destructive.

A significant focus of the GAO’s efforts will be to help Congress assess efforts to address the major cybersecurity challenges facing the nation. This includes establishing and implementing a comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy, securing federal agency and critical infrastructure systems from cyberattacks, and protecting private and sensitive data.

READ MORE: Identify five cybersecurity vulnerability vectors your agency shouldn’t overlook.

Agencies should focus on routinely backing up systems, reinforcing basic cybersecurity awareness and education, and revisiting cyber incident response plans. To safeguard data against loss, corruption and security threats, IT leaders should meet regularly to discuss ongoing data security programs and emerging trends.

In addition, agencies should focus on preparation now rather than reacting after an attack occurs. By investing in solutions that get ahead of attacks with security built into the platform, it is easier to minimize downtime and get systems back online more efficiently and effectively.

New Funding Can Support Oversight of Digital Technology

Changes in technology and reliance on legacy systems have strained the federal infrastructure system. As a result, it can be difficult for agency IT leaders to ensure that their systems are viable, efficient, safe and accessible.

In acknowledgment of these challenges, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was enacted in November 2021. The IIJA includes several new infrastructure programs and significant increases in federal funding for areas such as critical infrastructure and technology.

The GAO is working to ensure effective oversight of this historic increase in infrastructure funding. This includes, among other activities, examining the extent to which federal investments meet their goals and leverage emerging technologies.

DISCOVER: How the GSA is looking into zero-trust and modernization.

IT leaders should seek to understand the technology solutions that will best meet the needs of their agencies and stakeholders. With many different solutions on the market, offer agility and flexible consumption models, allowing agencies to scale up or down without massive disruptions.

These models enable IT leaders to leverage only the digital infrastructure they need at a given time, allowing them to remain innovative and agile for a future that’s difficult to predict.

By creating an individualized path to modernization, agency IT leaders can better deliver services to citizens in more specialized ways and continue to grow in their service capabilities.

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Onboarding IT Talent Can Involve Online Learning and Education

As government IT teams focus on accelerating IT modernization, they need additional IT talent. Using a strategic talent management approach, agencies continue to focus on attracting, developing and retaining a diverse, inclusive and highly productive workforce.

In addition, the GAO is focused on ensuring that agency workforces are aligned to achieve the mission while providing training and developmental programs to meet future challenges.

To help achieve these goals, the GAO plans to leverage data to strengthen learning, knowledge sharing and growth opportunities that increase the skills and competencies of the government’s diverse workforce. These efforts aim to best position agency staff to address the complex, interdisciplinary and global issues they face.

DIVE DEEPER: How does the White House want to improve citizen satisfaction with services?

Federal IT leaders have looked for the best ways to equip employees with the right tools and technologies, but staffing issues persist, further deterring the push toward modernization.

Agencies should look to solutions that require less maintenance and can free up staff for other mission-driving activities, along with continuing education and professional development.

As government IT teams look to fill skills gaps, technology solutions can help. Federal education and workforce training programs must work together to help build a knowledgeable and skilled workforce while adjusting to the evolving economy, work environments and local needs.

Prepare Now for Future Solutions

The need for innovation in federal agencies has become more critical. Now is the time for IT leaders to invest in solutions that will propel their organizations forward. As they deal with more information than ever, agencies must have the proper digital infrastructure to support operations.

Governments should not treat digital government strategies as static plans. Instead, agency IT leaders should revisit their strategies on an ongoing basis and consult with citizens along the path to modernization. Different agencies have varying needs and different solutions can benefit agencies of all sizes and functions.

While digital services continue to adapt, the best thing that agencies can do is prepare for the future. While focusing on their security protocols, digital technology and development practices, agencies can continue to deliver on their missions and supply the proper tools for premier citizen service.

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