Government IT success hinges on evolution, GSA leaders say
Government IT has reached an inflection point, where those who don’t move along with its evolution and adopt new technologies and mindsets will quickly become extraneous, according to General Services Administration leaders.
If the government doesn’t become a transformative force, if it fails to meet the challenges it faces, it will have less relevance, less impact, and Congress will be less willing to provide funds, said Mark Day, director of the FAS ITS Portfolio's Strategic Solutions at GSA, at a March 21 panel discussion titled “New Models of Government IT,” hosted by Cisco.
“I think that the tagline I’d have you remember is this: The unthinkable has become thinkable,” he said.
Shared services has received considerable attention recently, as agencies are exploring paths to make the best use of their IT and dollars. The idea of sharing used to be a hard sell because agencies weren’t willing do so, however, today, agencies are seriously thinking of mission rather than owning IT assets, Day said.
“I think there’s a fundamental change in the way we’re doing business,” he added.
Dave McClure, associate administrator at GSA’s Office of Citizen Services & Innovative Technologies, touched upon the movement of innovation in an era of new and unfamiliar thinking within the federal government.
“I think it’s definitely a period where there’s a marked difference in the enthusiasm, the acceptance, the willingness to actually open up to fresh thinking, new ideas and move faster to take some risks,” he said.
However, McClure warned against false choices: The false choice of innovation vs. cost savings and the false choice of innovation vs. security. Innovation is not at odds with either goal, he said. "I do think that we in the IT area focus on the drive for efficiencies, and I think it’s time to deliver,” he said. “IT has always been asked to show cost savings, higher productivity and delivery. Now we’re at a point where IT is asked, ‘Let’s see it.’”
Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.