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FCW : June 15, 2016
June 15, 2016 FCW.COM 25 as an agency of 20 years ago,” she said. “Fifty percent of our workforce is eli- gible to retire, but every time someone leaves, we just backfill a position.... We struggle with the human resources side of things and really structuring ourselves to be effective.” Another executive stressed the impor- tance of recruiting program employees to be integral members of the team as opposed to simply customers. “When- ever you can get someone to do a detail into this world from the program area, that has huge benefits,” she said. “When they’re immersed in it, it really gives them insights they did not have before. Then when they go back, they’re able to evangelize for you.” And yet another explained how he tried to take the opposite approach from “we know how to do this.” His team picks “a pilot project that’s pretty low vis- ibility that nobody was really interested in before and just say, ‘We’re going to democratize this. Do you want to come be a part of the team?’” A participant from an agency that has been more aggressive in importing tal- ent, however, argued that the training that Schedule A appointees are provid- ing to career staff could have the most lasting impact. “We’ve brought outside folks in,” he said. “Most of them are Silicon Valley. They’re all smart, whippersnappery and don’t wear the suits.... To some extent, the answer isn’t internal, it’s external. There’s got to be a way in which you can take that knowledge and transfer it.” And because there are only so many Silicon Valley whippersnappers, several participants said they were still learning how best to use contractors. “How do you build a team that’s just big enough on the government side and then sup- plement it with the contract side?” one asked. “We’re still looking for that, and it’s really, really tough.” One participant with both indus- try and government experience said, “There’s still reticence to having mean- ingful acquisition planning conversations about what’s practical and feasible and get buy-in around those customer needs early.” “That’s something that really needs to be baked in,” she added, “so that we don’t go back to those prehistoric days of having this wall that makes it really hard to have user-focused procurement around outcomes rather than around restrictive requirements.” And although effective use of contrac- tors requires government employees who can see the big picture and steer things accordingly, some in the group expressed concern that digitally inclined generalists will be in short supply for the foreseeable future. “It’s really, really, really hard for young people to get into government, and it’s really hard if you are not a specialist,” one of the younger participants said. “We need more generalists or specialists who have at least some familiarity with other fields. Nothing is changing on the HR front to enable that transition.” Funding? What funding? Very little discussion was devoted to the idea of building bigger digital services teams because few agencies see signifi- cant dedicated funding on the horizon. “Congress in their infinite wisdom Alexis Bonnell Division Chief of Applied Innovation and Acceleration U.S . Global Development Lab U.S . Agency for International Development Abigail Bowman Deputy Director of Digital Engagement Commerce Department Don Buskard Chief Enterprise Architect Transportation Department Nicole Callahan New Media Analyst Education Department Kathy Conrad Director, Digital Government Accenture Federal Services and Former Principal Deputy Associate Administrator Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies General Services Administration Sarah Crane Director, USA.gov General Services Administration Nora Dempsey Senior Adviser for Innovation State Department James Hammond Director, Online Engagement, Operations and Media IRS Michael Hillard Branch Chief Environmental Protection Agency Eric Hysen Digital Services Executive Director Department of Homeland Security Mike Kruger Deputy Director of Public Affairs and Director of Digital Engagement Commerce Department Mary Ann Monroe Director, Customer Experience General Services Administration Rusty Pickens Senior Adviser for Digital Platforms State Department Bridget Roddy Program Manager, Virtual Student Foreign Service State Department Jeannie Shiffer Associate Director for Communications Census Bureau Aaron Snow Executive Director 18F and Deputy Commissioner Technology Transformation Service General Services Administration William Trefzger Deputy Director, Digital Communications Division Department of Health and Human Services Lisa Wolfisch Deputy Director Center for New Media and Promotion Census Bureau Loren Yu Head of Product Development Nava and Former member of HealthCare.gov rescue team Chris Zinner Managing Director Accenture Federal Services Note: Accenture Federal Services sponsored the roundtable gathering. The discussion was led by FCW Editor-in-Chief Troy K. Schneider and 1105 Public Sector Media Group Chief Content Officer Anne A. Armstrong. The recap on these pages is strictly an editorial product. Neither Accenture nor any of the roundtable participants had input beyond their May 10 comments. Discussion participants 0615fcw_020-026.indd 25 5/25/16 1:34 PM
May 30, 2016
June 30, 2016