Trends in Government Contracting
Federal IT Modernization: it's a paper trail
by Carol Ingley
Week of August 5, 2019 through Week of September 2, 2019
Critical Infrastructure. There’s nothing more critical than having a modern IT structure in the U.S. government. As a work in progress, it simply isn’t there yet. So how to understand what is going on with federal IT modernization? It’s a paper trail! It’s necessary to follow the presidential executive orders, reports and other published federal documents to find out what the backdrop of the federal IT modernization process is.
Before walking onto that trail, however, an important question needs to be asked. Just what is driving the attention to federal IT modernization?
Drivers of Federal IT Modernization. It wasn’t so long ago that your cell phone voice service was analog and so was much of TV. As all major services and content have gone digital, the phase of digital transformation has set in. This faster change model is what has increased dramatically the priority of federal IT modernization.
With this new framework, there are now 5 major drivers of the modernization process: 1) Digital transformation; 2) Citizens 24/7 demand for services; 3) High cost of legacy system maintenance; 4) Cybersecurity; and 5) Emerging trends such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, video and more.
In short, the needs of the U.S. government are not that radically different from the commercial world. But the big driver here is digital transformation. The digital revolution has already happened -- circa 1980 to 2016. Now that so much in this world has been transformed into digits, everything happens very quickly in this new era of digital transformation. Old IT stuff gets very old very quickly. With these drivers in minds, let’s follow the paper trail.
Strengthening Federal Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure (2017). The presidential executive order Strengthening Federal Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure was issued on May 11, 2017 by President Donald Trump.
In reading the order, one is reminded of the Truman philosophy: the buck stops here. This order very clearly states where the buck stops: “The President will hold heads of executive departments and agencies (agency heads) accountable for managing cybersecurity risk to their enterprises.”
And it gets much more specific: “Agency heads will be held accountable by the President for implementing risk management measures commensurate with the risk and magnitude of the harm that would result from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction of IT and data.”
IT Moderization. The Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization (2017) can be complicated to read but if there were three key concepts that were important here, they would be network modernization and consolidation, shared services and a business-focused approach.
Network Modernization and Consolidation. This report envisions a modern Federal IT architecture where agencies are able to maximize secure use of cloud computing, modernize Government-hosted applications, and securely maintain legacy systems.
Shared Services to Enable Future Network Architectures. The following section of this report lays out an approach to enable, with ongoing Government-wide category management efforts, the Federal Government to shift toward a consolidated IT model by adopting centralized offerings for commodity IT. And under this section of Shared Services is the following:
Enable use of Commercial Cloud. Improve contract vehicles to enable agencies to acquire commercial cloud products that meet Government standards. 2. Accelerate Adoption of Cloud Email and Collaboration Tools. Provide support for migration to cloud email and collaboration suites that leverage the Government's buying power. Define the next set of agencies to migrate to commercial email and collaboration suites.
Resourcing Federal Network IT Modernization. In order to implement the Federal IT modernization efforts outlined in this report, agencies will need to realign their IT resources appropriately using business-focused, data-driven analysis and technical evaluation. In short, run federal IT like a business.
Out of the federal IT modernization report came a new cloud strategy.
Cloud Smart. Basically, the Cloud Smart strategy is to be solution-oriented with the cloud. It is basically a heads-up to orient the agencies toward decisions made in the commercial world. Agencies are encouraged to match cloud solutions with enhance the delivery of their services, and, of course, enhance their mission.
Something else also came out of the Report to the President on IT Modernization.
Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act. The MGT Act was included as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This was enacted on December 12, 2017.
In a memorandum to the heads of all executive departments and agencies, the MGT Act will allow agencies to invest in modem technology solutions to improve service delivery to the public, secure sensitive systems and data, and save taxpayer dollars.
According to the memorandum, the MGT Act has two primary provisions that address agency information technology (IT) modernization needs: 1. The establishment of a centralized Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) and Technology Modernization Board (Board); and 2. The authorization for all CFO Act agencies to establish IT Working Capital Funds (WCFs).
Backdrop. That's some of the backdrop of the shift to modernize federal IT which is being driven by digital transformation. It is a massive transformative undertaking that has just begun.
Trends in Government Contracting by iPTW