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FCW : March 30, 2016
is the Energy Department’s fiscal 2017 request for hardening the electrical grid against cyberattacks $378 million Small federal agencies like the option of obtaining cybersecurity tools as a shared service from the Department of Home- land Security’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program. But some are wondering how they can sustain their cybersecurity work into the future. Late last year, DHS and the General Services Administration began the pro- cess of offering CDM tools for 40 of the government’s smallest agencies via cloud-based shared services to reduce or eliminate on-premises duplication. Kirit Amin, CIO at the U.S. Interna- tional Trade Commission, said being able to access CDM as a service helps small agencies perform a critical activ- ity and is preferable to relying on a small budget and staff to comply with a complex cybersecurity mandate. “If DHS told small agencies, ‘You will implement CDM,’ it wouldn’t happen,” Amin said during a cyberse- curity panel discussion sponsored by the Independent Telecommunications Pioneer Association’s National Capital Chapter on March 3. “You can’t just throw tech at an issue” and expect it to solve everything, he added. Other panelists agreed that CDM as a service is beneficial. “GSA and DHS shared services are a good thing,” said Esteve Mede, chief information security officer at the Federal Election Commission, adding that the program’s effectiveness should be measured by how closely GSA and DHS work with small agencies to fit them into the larger federal cyberse- curity strategy. Amin told FCW after the panel dis- cussion that the government’s move to offer CDM as a service was only a way station on a longer, possibly treacherous road for small agencies because they are feeling the technical staffing squeeze more acutely than larger agencies. Ultimately, agencies rely on people to watch over and protect federal networks. But the public and private sectors are fighting over qualified IT people and especially skilled cyberse- curity professionals. “How many cybersecurity experts are out there?” he asked. “It’s a major challenge for small agencies.” — Mark Rockwell CDM as a service is great, but what’s next? Customer experience, or CX, has long had its advocates in govern- ment. And in the past few years — as Presidential Innovation Fellows, 18F consultants and various digital service teams have fanned out across agencies — designing around the public’s needs has become a rallying cry for federal IT. And well it should be. Serving citizens — not to mention businesses, immigrants and foreign visitors — is central to many if not most agencies’ mis- sions. Taxpayers deserve top-quality service, and an efficient, intuitive and productive interaction reinforces the message that government can work far better than many politicians would have you believe. Yet for every citizen-facing web- site or mobile app, there are dozens of agency IT systems that are out- right hostile to their customers: the federal employees and contractors who must use those systems every day. Some of the problem is legacy systems whose user interfaces are as old and creaky as the code that pow- ers them. But attitude is also a culprit. Too often, the view seems to be, “They have no choice but to use it, so as long as it works....” The results are frustrated employ- ees, inefficient execution and wor- risome errors — and, ultimately, customers who are unhappy with the service they are getting from the government. Not every agency ignores its internal customers, of course. At a recent Citizen Engagement Sum- mit that FCW hosted, for example, Department of Homeland Security Digital Services Executive Direc- tor Eric Hysen discussed his team’s efforts to fix the badly broken work- flow that Citizenship and Immigra- tion Services employees must navi- gate. And plenty of 18F teams have tackled back-end systems. Publicly, though, the emphasis is almost exclusively on the citizen, as though investing in government employees’ experience is somehow unseemly. That attitude is both ridic- ulous and short-sighted. Those who work to serve the public deserve the best possible tools for doing so. And building them will ultimately improve the experience for those citizen-customers as well. — Troy K. Schneider email@example.com @troyschneider EDITOR’S NOTE Government systems’ other customer March 30, 2016 FCW.COM 9 VA.GOV 0330fcw_003-010.indd 9 3/8/16 9:32 AM
March 15, 2016
April 15, 2016