Since March of 2018, the President’s Management Agenda has worked toward improving IT modernization efforts across all government agencies to efficiently serve public citizens, investing largely in three key drivers of reform — technology, data, and workforce. Now the plan is to keep building on those first-year foundational activities and achievements, according to Federal CIO Suzette Kent.
“We’re in the cycle of delivering the next round of results — real, tangible results,” Kent said in a keynote address delivered at the 2019 IT Modernization Summit in Washington, D.C. Thursday.
With substantial assistance provided by the Technology Modernization Fund in fiscal year 2018, which granted approximately $90 million in total to seven different modernization projects for five federal agencies, the PMA successfully enables real results, such as transforming outdated, paper-based legacy systems into automated and electronic cloud service solutions, she said.
Just last February, for instance, the TMF board awarded funding to support the deployment of GSA’s NewPay, a cloud-based SaaS payroll system that can be used by all federal agencies, Kent added.
Various projects last year also allowed for enhanced cybersecurity measures through government standardization and the accelerated adoption of collaborative cloud services among a majority of federal agencies, noted Kent. However, she emphasized that the PMA will continue to address IT modernization to drive agencies into becoming more citizen and mission impactful.
One initiative this year, as Kent outlined, is to continue a “relentless focus” on modernizing cybersecurity, as well as its processes and tools. This includes optimizing and consolidating functions of data centers during application rationalization, allowing for fewer data centers and a smoother transition for agencies to cloud services.
In terms of other technologies, the PMA aims to “develop the initial release of policy for use of automated technologies by federal civilian agencies,” Kent explained. This includes providing “inspection, oversight, data examination and model control” of agencies capturing and using RPA, machine learning, natural language processing and AI data, specifically concentrating on building infrastructure complementary to agencies’ missions.
“We are going to be very aggressive both at the center through the CIO council and at the individual agencies with pilots,” she professed, elaborating on the “massive opportunity” to also learn hands-on for technologies specific to each agency.
And for the cyber workforce, pilots may be used to speed-up the IT hiring and selection process. Because of a high-level of response given by non-IT employees to move into IT roles (Kent cited that the CIO council received as many as 1,500 non-IT applicants for 25 IT job slots), the PMA will look for new ways to expand and add sections in the applicant process to make quicker, more well-informed decisions.
“2018 was a great year that was foundational," said Kent. "But 2019 is about action and impact."