COMMENTARY

Federal tech priorities hold steady no matter who wins the election

Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, federal government priorities over the next four years will not change. The current trends in security, the use of data, the cloud and government procurement will continue. There is also likely to be more attention paid to supply chain security, especially in regard to emerging technologies such as 5G.

IT Initiatives Remain in Place

The simple fact of the matter is that many IT initiatives have been codified by laws and will remain, no matter who is in office.

For example, both the SECURE Technology Act and recent National Defense Authorization acts include language mandating that the federal government reduce supply chain threats and establish criteria for the types of products that may pose risks to the government. For vendors, being able to trace exactly where your products come from has become more important than ever.

The Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT) allows agencies to retain or save money and apply it to IT modernization programs through working capital funds. There is also a Technology Modernization Fund, which agencies can dip into for emergency modernization projects. Both of these speak directly to the procurement process and vendors would do well to pay particular attention to what agencies are doing in this regard.

FITARA is another piece of IT legislation that’s here to stay and will continue to shape agency priorities around IT. It gives federal CIOs a much larger say in how IT dollars are spent in their departments. Agencies are also scored quarterly on how well they are doing in data center consolidation, risk assessment, IT modernization and IT savings. For vendors, a department’s FITARA score is extremely useful in helping your company identify where your clients or prospects may need help.

Artificial Intelligence, Data Centricity, Cloud Investments Persist

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and data centricity strategies are also unlikely to change. We will continue to see increasing focus on driving technological breakthroughs in AI across the federal government. Agencies have been told to "promote sustained investment in AI R&D,” which will mean a prioritization of funding for artificial intelligence research.

The government’s interest in data centricity, leveraging data as a strategic asset, will mean that vendors will have to continue engaging their federal customers to show how their solutions can secure their data, display an audit trail and improve their ability to store and retrieve information.

Another area that will persist regardless of who takes office is the “Cloud Smart” initiative. When it comes to the cloud, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Agencies should have the flexibility to choose the right cloud solution — whether public, private, hybrid or multi-cloud — to meet their individual needs. More to the point, given current circumstances, remote work is here to stay, making cloud even more important. Agencies will continue to grapple with the technology requirements that come with what will likely be a permanent shift toward hybrid work arrangements.

Consolidation of GSA MAS Schedule Continues

Finally, trends in how the government buys will persist regardless of who leads the next administration.

The GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule consolidation will continue, with the GSA entering Phase Three of the program. MAS is an agreement with companies providing over 10 million different supplies, products and services that are ordered from GSA Schedule contractors, translating to some $33 billion in transactions annually.

Similarly, the popularity of Other Transaction Authorities (OTAs) will continue as an effective contracting mechanism, both to cut through bureaucratic red tape associated with standard acquisition practices and to help the government tap into innovation from nontraditional suppliers.

Conclusion

The same recommendations we’ve made to industry before will still apply today and beyond the results of the election. Industry is more important than ever in helping their customers execute on their missions. Agencies need help from technology partners to ensure there are no gaps in mission delivery. They also need us to help demonstrate total cost of ownership and prove that planned modernization efforts will result in cost savings down the line.

Agencies need continued help in automating workflows, interpreting data and securing their enterprise. Initiatives like AI/ML, Cloud Smart, and an overall focus on infrastructure modernization will help lead to concrete results and opportunities. Vendors prepared to respond to those initiatives will be poised for success.

About the Author

Lloyd McCoy is a manager on the Market Intelligence team at immixGroup, an Arrow Electronics company, which powers the future of public sector IT. The team utilizes a research-driven approach to help technology companies develop successful business strategies to sell to the public sector. He can be reached on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/lloydmccoy/

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