Pandemic speeds modernization across federal agencies

The necessary wave of IT adaptation because of the pandemic has shown many federal CIOs and agencies they can move quickly and efficiently to modernize their IT.

NOTE: This story first appeared on FCW.com.

The initial ordeal of adapting to the pandemic IT environment has evolved into a speedier and focused view of system modernization at federal agencies, according to some federal CIOs.

That initial wave of setting up laptops and building remote work systems was stressful, but it may have advanced federal IT modernization efforts by years, according to Stuart McGuigan, CIO of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Information Resource Management.

The pandemic, he said in remarks during a Dec. 10 ATARC IT modernization summit, has accelerated modernization at his agency by five years, with the adoption of collaborative tools and a more utilitarian view of new technology.

"The best way to learn a language is to be dropped into a country and have to figure out how to survive," he said. "The same is true of collaborative technology, when that is the only way to get things done,"

The pandemic brought a shock to the agency's workers, who were accustomed to meeting in person, both in the U.S. offices and in diplomatic hubs worldwide, said McGuigan. They had to adapt quickly to collaborative technologies such as Webex and Zoom.

That experience, according to McGuigan, has been positive in many ways. The agency moved to a more agile and practical way of seeing IT modernization, he said, sharpening the agency's adaptation of IT applications, stripping them down to the initial bare essentials.

After the beginning of the pandemic, the agency began setting up "minimal viable products" for access and other basic IT functions. Those products were modified as needed and requested by users which wound up slimming down unneeded applications and operations, he said. The closer alliance to mission needs has also brought better alignment to the agency's business model, he said.

For Federal Communications Commission's CIO Francisco Salguero, who started at the agency a year ago, remote work is normal, not an exception. The FCC, he said, had telework capabilities, but it required refinement as the pandemic moved ahead. Modernization for the FCC has become more utilitarian. "How do we get capabilities into users' hands and have the connections to use it?" he asked.

Salguero said standardization of commodity IT, as well as documentation, are critical when putting a new system together. He said the agency has learned how to roll out new technology in a friendlier, more consumer-like way to its employees as a result of the pandemic. "It's the little things as well as the big ones," he said.

The pandemic gave federal IT modernization momentum and agencies responded well to the stress, said Maria Roat, deputy federal CIO in the Office of Management and Budget in remarks at the ATARC event, but some stubborn obstacles remain. "The pandemic highlighted how fast we can push technology solutions and get through cumbersome procedures and bureaucracy," she said.

"Large modernization projects take time and funding and flexibility to really manage well," she said. "Congress can help us because when we start looking at one-year funding, it creates risk and uncertainty."

The MGT Act and the Technology Modernization Fund are critical, she said. "As a CIO, not knowing what my budget is going to be, I can't drive multi-year modernization projects."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.