How DHS is tackling the Digital Government Strategy

The federal government still bears a not-undeserved reputation for latent Luddism, adopting technological change slowly. But that mentality is now shifting, thanks in no small part to budget woes.

For the Homeland Security Department, forays into mobile technologies include the workplace-as-a-service program, which will debut in fall 2012, and multiple mobile management and application pilots, said Keith Trippie, DHS' executive director for Enterprise System Development Office.

The next phase of federal mobility adoption won't focus so much on the government’s past achievements but its potential, said Trippie, addressing a crowd at the Federal Mobile Computing Summit held Aug. 8 in Washington, D.C., an event organized by Mobilegov.

"I think this [mobility] concept is big, I think it’s bold, and I think this will be more about what the government can and is doing rather than what we’ve always done. Mobile is the development and computing distribution platform for the future,” he said.

With those new changes comes the need to make data more readily available for consumption. It also means leveraging virtual and cloud-based technologies, and other offerings that help share common capabilities and operational data, Trippie said.

But more questions remain as agencies collectively drive change across the ecosystem, including one that touches on the amalgamation of the consumer marketplace and the enterprise  – or "consumerprise," as Trippie put it.

“I think time is here to consider the benefits of that integration,” he said. 

The federal digital framework promotes a customer-centric approach as one of its main tenets, and for Trippie that simply boils down to one of the most fundamental business questions: Is the government easy to do business with?

“Whether we’re delivering IT to internal programs and employees, mail to citizens or health care services to our veterans, we should look to adopt practices that make sense coming in from the private sector,” he said.

One of the core philosophies in the commercial sector is that the customer is the lifeblood. The same concept can be applied within the government, Trippie said, with the help of customer-centric thought leaders.

Although the federal government has made strides in this area by establishing customer service centers and initiatives such as USA.gov, “much work remains,” he said.

 “We all have to work together in sinking the customer-centric hook deep into federal agencies and our cultures,” he said. “This may take a generation to fully implement, but I believe strongly that we can make significant progress in the coming months.”

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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