Management of Change

Can the federal government get its IT groove back?

compass innovation

In the wake of the HealthCare.gov debacle and a rash of security breaches across what was once thought to be among the most secure networks on earth, the U.S. government is becoming better known for its IT failures than its successes -- and that needs to change, according to the chairmen of ACT-IAC's Management of Change conference.

"We want to redefine 21st-century government," said MOC Industry Chair Allen Ashbey, who is director of business development at Sapient. "The federal government used to be known for creating the Internet, sending people to the moon. It could do anything. That perception has changed." And those high-profile failures have eclipsed the sometimes exceptional work that federal IT workers do.

MOC Government Chair Sanjay Sardar told FCW that this year's conference, which runs May 18-20 in Cambridge, Md., seeks to address six primary areas in which the federal government can strengthen its IT hand: agile development, risk taking, continuous diagnostics and mitigation, open data, open and flexible government, and government as integrator. Panel discussions on those topics fill the agenda.

After the conference, Sardar, who serves as CIO of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said he hopes attendees will volunteer to address those issues by joining "innovation pods" aimed at focusing efforts beyond the two-day conference and developing concrete solutions. Those efforts could include frameworks or pilot programs to address the six topic areas led by government and industry volunteers.

"We're looking for activists," Sardar said. "It comes down to how much you're willing to put in [to change things]. When people see things going badly, they want to fix them."

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Thu, May 22, 2014 Stan

Troy. Thanks for the clarification. Sometimes with some FCW articles the posting is almost instantaneous and sometimes, as with this one, days, and occasionally, never. You have a daily news paper and if comments take over a day to get posted, folks have moved on and lost the opportunity to read what others think. Readers take the time to read your paper and then if they desire, share their views. But rarely do readers have the time to go back on a topic of interest to see if any comments were posted. Trying to help.

Wed, May 21, 2014 Troy K Schneider, FCW editor-in-chief United States

Two points of clarification, Stan: First, it's not the reporter moderating comments, but me or one of the other FCW editors -- usually me. Second, what a commenter thinks is censorship is almost always just a lag-time in reviewing and approving comments. That's not a great thing either, but it's logistics, not an agenda. We do filter some comments -- see this 2013 blogpost for a rough outline of when and why: http://fcw.com/blogs/conversation/2013/07/comment-moderation.aspx But if it's not profane, filled with suspect URLs or utterly off-topic, it's going to get approved.

Wed, May 21, 2014 Stan

Mark, why do you even ask for reader comments when you don't post them? The article approaches the subject from one viewpoint and readers can't share other viewpoints. If this is up to FCW standards, I'm done with FCW. I will make contact and make sure my subscription is canceled. Not worth it any more.

Tue, May 20, 2014 Stan

The real problem is money. IT is one of those areas all managers love by what it can do, and hate because of what it will cost. So for decades the govt has not upgraded its IT infrastructure and now where are we? We as a nation have run out of taxpayer money to upgrade our own infrastructure. We sent people to the moon, right? Why haven't we since? Money. Why was NASA's Constellation to return to the moon permanently cancelled by Obama in 2010. Why? Money. The solution is real simple to getting the govt's IT mojo back. More money. The problem is the govt already spent it and now we will spend years if not decades getting back to where we were if that's even possible. And don't give me this, "we don't need more money, we just need more intelligent managers and a better program". This is one area that throwing more money at the problem will yield the desired result: recovering that lost govt IT mojo.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group