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 senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

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.


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