Federal Government Is Turning Modernization into Optimization
True modernization is about a lot more than technology alone. Many government agencies recognize this and are working to optimize their IT modernization strategies.
This perspective can be seen in Gartner’s May publication of survey results identifying the top 10 issues for U.S. federal CIOs in 2019. The key findings include:
- “Federal CIOs report continuing progress toward digital government, with nearly a quarter having digital initiatives that are being scaled up or yielding benefits.”
- “Business optimization and mission transformation are outpacing modernization as priorities, with CIOs still looking to key technologies of cloud, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to make a difference.”
- “The U.S. federal government has a higher implementation rate than nongovernment industries for adopting key digital technologies and trends, particularly cybersecurity, AI and 3D printing.”
The need for modernization is often characterized by estimates of the size of the government’s technical debt – the amount of IT budgets throughout the government that are being absorbed by the maintenance of legacy systems.
This dovetails with one of the three leadership priorities Gartner identified: “Fix what is broken,” meaning eliminate the technical debt.
But agencies are becoming much more sophisticated about how they address their technical debt. It’s not just about replacing old technologies with new, or making existing networks faster. Instead, CIOs are coming to understand that closing the technology gap is one critical element in actually changing how government works, emphasizing business optimization and mission transformation.
During a recent Government Matters broadcast, I talked with government leaders about how IT must be the driver of modernization efforts, not the end result. Having modernized IT systems should not only become a toolset that agencies will bring to bear when interacting with the public, but it should also help with recruiting and retaining talent.
This is reflected in the President’s Management Agenda, with its emphasis on agencies needing to improve the customer (citizen) experience and enabling employees to focus on mission-essential work, among other recommendations.
Technology as journey, not destination
The Gartner report identified these seven technologies that will enable modernization that actually results in changing how federal government agencies meet their missions and deliver services:
- Automation for operational improvements
- Advanced analytics/business intelligence
- AI/machine learning
- Digital product management
- Digital government technology platform
How these technologies will be applied varies across the government. For example, many agencies have case management systems. Those systems need to be modernized, but there is no single case management system that fits the mission requirements for all agencies. What all federal agencies have in common is the growing understanding that they each need to be able to see all the moving parts in their systems and networks if they hope to modernize them.
The General Services Administration’s next-generation Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) GWAC and Alliant 2 contract vehicles are designed to streamline the modernization of legacy IT and telecommunications infrastructure. Each is intended to provide agencies with the flexibility and latitude they need to meet their mission goals and streamline operations, while providing a common framework for IT modernization.
In the not-so-distant past, agencies used purpose-built, fixed wide-area networks. That was in keeping with the times, but today they can be an obstacle to modernization and transformation.
Agencies can now see a different path. Rather than fixed networks, the new way forward involves using adaptive networks that are responsive, intelligent and secure. These networks bring together disparate and diverse networks under a common, software-defined umbrella that provides greater resiliency, control and automation – all in line with Gartner’s seven key technologies.
CenturyLink is well positioned to assist federal agencies with this challenge because it operates and manages its own global network.
Optimizing Modernization Right
Federal CIOs know that successful modernization is more than just swapping out hardware. Instead, the technology and the implementation of it needs to serve the agency and their unique mission.
There is never going to be one solution to all of government’s modernization needs. Agency missions are too diverse for that. But by partnering with an organization like CenturyLink with years of experience in this area, agencies can ensure that they are able to optimize their IT while they modernize. That way they can invest in technology and processes that, as Gartner pointed out, will actually result in positive change, for now and the future.
Interest to Learn More?
Download Gartner’s white paper on the Top 10 Issues for U.S. Federal CIOs in 2019 and meet us at the 930 Gov conference on Tuesday, August 20, at the Washington, DC, Convention Center. We will discuss how the network is the foundation for IT modernization and for implementing emerging technologies. You’ll also hear more of my thoughts on that in my next blog.