Industry members laud Digital Government Strategy

With less than a week left for agencies to identify their plans the first two services they plan to first focus on as part of the Digital Government Strategy, an industry IT group has released its comments on the framework.

In response to the Digital Government Strategy’s request for private-sector input, the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council’s Advanced Mobility Working Group surveyed industry members involved with government IT. Respondents were polled on their views about the plan's vision and goals, as well as which aspects would have the greatest impact or present challenges for the overall goals.

The survey revealed mostly good news for the strategy. Nearly 60 responses came in from the online survey, with the majority backing the framework. More than 90 percent said the document is a leap forward for federal IT and signifies a key step in evolving how the federal government makes information and services available.

Close to 100 percent of respondents are optimistic by the government’s transformation, supporting the notion that digital technology saves money and pushes engagement among citizens and federal workers. Nearly half said the focus on customer-centric was most likely to produce positive changes. Data-centric and shared first followed as the next likely opportunities for success.

Just 5 percent of respondents believe the strategy’s security and privacy elements are likely to see positive outcomes, with a third identifying this area presents the biggest roadblock. Respondents also deemed shared platform and security and privacy as less innovative aspects of the strategy and would be the hardest to achieve successfully.

Although the majority of respondents were positive about the general strategy, they recognized there’s room for some fine-tuning. One suggestion was to first lay the groundwork - the “unglamorous but necessary actions and milestone” – to ultimately accomplish more transformational opportunities.

Those essential foundational activities could be the toughest ones to achieve due to ingrained cultures, practices and policies, respondents said. These steps, however, “deserve particular attention and leadership focus to overcome obstacles and eliminate barriers,” according to the survey report. 

Some respondents worried larger-scale challenges could stall the strategy’s implementation. “The biggest hurdle to clear may well be interagency collaboration and cooperation, which is hampered by legislative, regulatory, budgetary, procurement and authority issues,” commented one respondent. “This strategy should be expanded to include a way to tackle these institutional roadblocks to progress.”

Respondents also proposed a better-worded strategy to spell out its internal and external focus. The framework’s reference to “customers” includes citizens and federal workers alike, and both are defined as equal beneficiaries of digital government. However, respondents said most of the document seems to focus mainly on citizen-facing interactions and service.

“This may be a matter of perception rather than intent, but clarification would strengthen the strategy,” according to the survey report.

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