Management

More hands-on engagement promised at this year's ELC

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Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel made headlines last October when he called the launch failures of HealthCare.gov a "teachable moment" for federal IT. He made those remarks at the Executive Leadership Conference of ACT-IAC (American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council), the joint government and industry group that disseminates acquisition and development strategies across the private and public sectors.

This year, the ELC promises to take those lessons to heart, says FEMA CIO Adrian Gardner and Kathleen Cowles, a principal at Deep Water Point and 2013 Fed 100 honoree. Gardner and Cowles are the government and industry conference chairs for this year's ELC.

Attendees at past conferences have touted the value of the impromptu hallway conversations at this gathering, which brings together government CIOs and other federal IT executives with industry counterparts. This year, Gardner and Cowles are looking to bottle some of that serendipity with sessions that drill down to the level of providing feedback on actual problems facing agencies.

"We expect this to be radically different than past conferences," Gardner told FCW in an interview. "It's more of an engagement format, where it's more of a dialogue than it is one-way and singular presentations. We're going to cover a whole gamut of different topics and different areas."

The new conference track, called Collaboration ELC!, features opportunities for real-time feedback on existing IT challenges. An "Innovation Zone" puts conference participants in one-on-one interactions with leading federal IT executives, and a "Challenge Zone" offers a chance to get solutions to pressing problems.

"Our goal is to make this very different -- and potentially radically different -- than past ELCs from an engagement standpoint, from an opportunity to speak one on one, or one to many, with folks that may care about your particular issue," Gardner said.

While attendee's shouldn't expect to walk out of ELC with finished solutions, they will get a sense of how to innovate in a focused, collaborative setting, which is key to the agile development methodology being advocated in the launch of new government-wide IT offices like the U.S. Digital Service at the Office of Management and Budget and 18F at the General Services Administration.

"What we are suggesting is that innovation is a disciplined method for listening, understanding and making things happen," Cowles said in an interview. "Those approaches, we are going to use in a very appropriate way with those people that care about those issues."

The conference, with the theme of "Leadership and Innovation in Radically Changing Times," also has tracks on Citizen Services and Shared Solutions. It is being held Oct. 26-28 in Williamsburg, Va. Click here to visit the conference homepage.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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Reader comments

Mon, Aug 25, 2014 Owen Ambur Silver Spring, MD

If the organizers of ELC want to make it really different -- and more productive -- than other conferences, they could: a) publish the agenda as a performance plan in an open, standard, machine-readable format like StratML; b) encourage participants to document their own objectives in relation to those of the conference; c) provide the means for participants to form virtual partnerships around common objectives -- before, during, and after the conference -- and d) report the results on an ongoing basis, as well as at next year's conference.

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