New Fiscal Year, New Government Tech

New Fiscal Year, New Government Tech Congress is allocating billions…

October 25, 2022

New Fiscal Year, New Government Tech

Congress is allocating billions of dollars in new funding to accelerate the digital transformation of government agencies. It’s a heavy lift, and public-sector leaders are looking to their teams, professional relationships, and innovative IT solutions to modernize the IT infrastructure of public sector organizations.

­The theme of advancing digital transformation informed the kickoff of AFCEA Bethesda’s 2022-2023 “Engage and Connect” event series. A panel of federal leaders in digital transformation convened at the Archer Hotel, Tysons Corner, to share their experiences.

“Transformation is an art and an honor,” said Molly Cain, associate director of digital innovation at the Internal Revenue Service. She suggested that the job of advancing IT requires agencies to navigate uncharted territory.

“No one is coming, so we must do it; bravery is required,” said Cain, who moderated the panel.


Redefining Relationships to Technology

 Panelists agreed that federal digital transformation is about more than fixing old or obsolete equipment. It’s about redefining our relationship with technology.

“Tech has always been an enabler, but now more than ever it can be an enabler of connection,” said Sarah Moffat, a civil servant and leadership consultant. “We must tell new stories of what’s possible, focused on people, process, then technology.”

In the estimation of Ankur Saini, director of information technology at the Department of Transportation, “building relationships of trust are crucial and storytelling is critical to closing the deal. By building and modernizing, we’re saving lives.”


Ally Insights

Innovators gain critical insights by leaning into industry peer relationships, which is critical to accelerating federal digital transformation, panelists said.

“We’re looking at other organizations with visionary systems to gain feedback and insights,” said Michael Palmer, chief experience officer and associate chief information officer of the Bureau of Industry and Security at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In the public sector, insider relationships enable federal innovators to learn from mistakes and develop expertise, Saini said.

“People are our biggest cheerleaders and problem solvers,” Moffat said. “Bring them in early!”


Looking Ahead

Every agency does business in a way that is specific to its mission and vision. While mindful of that context, innovation leaders nonetheless want to hear about proven solutions and are eager to broaden the capabilities of teams through recruitment of new talent.

“We know what we want. We have a plan and vision. We need execution partners,” Saini said.

Digital transformation can be a slog at times, yet industry experts have the resources to support one another as they press ahead, panelists said.

Government leaders could further benefit from vendors sharing examples of challenges they have overcome in the course of pursuing digital transformation. Government leaders also expressed interest in industry-led executive training sessions as a means to better understand challenges and solutions. Palmer suggested that vendors provide trade hack strategies or unique experiential examples in support of a solution.

“We want to hear from other feds working on digital transformation,” Palmer said.


A culture of change

According to panelists, sharing stories of inspiration and transformation enable leaders to shift cultures and accelerate change. As such, industry leaders should understand that storytelling is a critical component, perhaps a catalyst, of digital transformation.

“We need more stories on positive transformation in the federal space,” Moffat said. “Everyone should start with a ‘must’ statement.”

“Why must it happen?”


Thought Leadership