Panel: Changes demand trust, accountability, inclusion

Successful internal transformation comes when an agency’s different sectors help shape it, a panel of agency officials agreed today.

“You need to get your stakeholders inside the tent with you, or they will feel like they are on the outside,” said Richard Spires, chief information officer at the Internal Revenue Service and a panelist in a discussion hosted by the Bethesda, Md., chapter of AFCEA International.

An agency's career managers and employees must have a sense of ownership or a stake in the transformation if an agency wants to earn their support. Agency leaders should talk to their employees about their plans, set clear goals and milestones, garner their trust, and get input on the process from all parts of the agency. As important, people in authority should be responsible for carrying out the transformation, the panelists agreed.

“We are holding ourselves accountable.… You hold us accountable,” said Lloyd Thrower, special assistant to the deputy undersecretary for Defense for business transformation in the Defense Business Transformation Agency and a panelist.

Jose Montero, counselor to the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said agency leaders can earn trust by getting early successes.

Spires said he sees the IRS running like a modern bank in the future, but information technology is only one part of the equation. The IRS’ business side must buy into the vision, too. Because IT supports the business side, he has asked the business counterparts what they envisioned for the agency in five years and how IT could support it. A year from the initial question, Spires asked again to keep his efforts aligned with the business’ needs.

The cross-cutting approach to setting the agenda involves the business people in the process, which is an important part of success, the panelists agreed.

The moderator, Thomas Boyce, interim program manager for electronic research at the National Institutes of Health, said modernization offices need to make sure the modernization aligns with the program’s needs, not vice versa.

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