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FCW : August 30, 2016
August 30, 2016 FCW.COM 21 to military veterans, includ- ing providing a single, united digital experience for accessing Department of Veterans Affairs bene ts. Those and other glimpses into their activities not only showed the value they have delivered but also highlighted the need for strategic choices about the path ahead for those two digital organizations. 18F and USDS: The next horizon In particular, two considerations resonated during the hearing: the importance of transparency, communication and collabora- tion between 18F, USDS and the technology industry, and the importance of a "buy rst" rather than "build" philosophy. As Chrousos told the sub- committee, "We haven't done a very good job of communicat- ing what 18F does.... We abso- lutely take a buy- rst approach. " That is important because government is an "at-scale" enterprise that cannot afford to wait for a small cadre of special- ists to make its way around to everyone. That small team simply cannot deliver digital transformation projects at the size, scope and speed required of our government. Thus, private-sector partnerships are essential to achieving that level of change. Partnerships pro- vide an opportunity for public service-minded professionals in the private sector to rotate in and out of government roles. Today's priority might be agile development; tomorrow it might be cognitive computing. A "buy rst" attitude can help meet such shifting priorities by providing access to the private sector's technology strength and depth. Giving agencies access to different private-sector skill sets and the exibility to adjust to funding requirements is a considerable advantage over trying to staff up to ll a 300-person roster. In fact, TTS and 18F could make a signi cant impact by expanding their focus on pro- curement issues and traveling from agency to agency with the goal of educating feds about Digital Age opportunities, deliv- ering pilot projects that directly engage government employ- ees and creating contracting vehicles so the government can quickly reach out to industry as needed to scale. Then they could move on to the next issue or agency, and repeat the process. Industry partnerships come in many avors --- a signi - cant advantage for 18F and USDS. For example, on the one hand, nontraditional govern- ment contractors can bring fresh commercial thinking and strong technical skills. On the other hand, the wealth of talent among traditional contractors combines innovation capa- bilities with deep knowledge of government missions and needs, a passion for govern- ment service and the know-how to execute in a government environment. In just two years, 18F and USDS have made substantial contributions to advancing the federal government's deploy- ment and integration of digital technology. An ongoing commit- ment to transparency, communi- cation and increased collabora- tion with industry will be vital to building on those successes and driving the "at scale" solution that is needed to transform the federal government. Clear understanding of the roles and relationships between those organizations and the technology community can help maintain the ow of fresh ideas, leading-edge technology and breakthrough solutions. And those solutions can propel the government's digital transfor- mation and better meet the needs of federal employees, our citizens and our country. Kymm McCabe is a principal at Deloitte Digital. nd 18F? satellite systems modernization.... That would take close to 90 percent of the IT spend in the department off the table because that would be mission IT." "A lot of people either grew up into that [IRM director] role or were recruited into that role," Balutis said. "I'm not sure many of them are either capable of or interested in stepping up to be the kind of IT leader with acquisition and budget and, of course, [human resources] responsibilities that FITARA envisions." He was quick to stress that several current CIOs --- career and political alike --- do have that interest and expertise. "I spent my career in government being a career person," he said, and "I do think there are very capable careerists, particularly in the next generation." But overall, it's a "mixed bag." The FITARA-era CIO is "a dif cult and more challenging role," Balutis said. "It puts you right in the line of re and makes you responsible for major systems decisions." CIOs nally have a seat at the proverbial table with the agency's top leaders, he added, "but that requires a different caliber [of] person who's capable of and comfortable with being in that kind of setting." Spires agreed. For large departments in particular, he said, "you should be demanding individuals who have a proven track record of doing that kind of work.... You can nd indi- viduals in government who have the right abilities and can do it. But you've got to nd them. And you've got to be stead- fast in doing it." He added that the most critical factor might be the suc- cession plan at OMB. There must "be cover and support from agency leadership and from OMB for these things to happen," he said. The question of who will follow Scott as U.S. CIO is cen- tral, Spires said. "And I'd like to have a deputy director of management who has a real appreciation for what this stuff takes," he added. n
August 15, 2016
September 15, 2016