Over the years, I have attended the Executive Leadership Conference, sponsored by the American Council for Technology – Industry Advisory Council, probably 10 times, first as a federal IT executive and now as a group vice president at Unisys Federal. I can attest to the event’s success at promoting collaboration between government and industry, creativity and innovation through the free flow of ideas among attendees.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, this open discussion is vital to addressing government’s challenges. At ELC, public and private sectors can come together to work toward common goals.
ELC’s theme this year was “Government 2020 – Imagine the Possibilities,” a discussion of what we can expect and should aspire to achieve in government IT by the year 2020. Government executives brought up issues they are confronting as they push to achieve their goals, and alongside their private sector colleagues, brainstormed ways to address them. Throughout the sessions, three issues seemed evident to me.
First, and not surprisingly, technology advances are outpacing our governance, budgeting and regulatory structures. I participated on a panel discussing, among other things, the new wave of technology related to the convergence of the physical and digital worlds.
We have not fully adapted to developments such as cloud, mobility, and social/collaborative computing. Yet now agencies are facing drones, robots, the Internet of Things, 3-D printers, driverless cars and sensor-based networks, which are bringing technology more and more into the physical world.
Drones alone promise significant advances in mapping and monitoring in industries as diverse as agriculture, transportation, construction and much more. But drones are also a source of much concern for potential to interrupt air travel or compromise individual privacy, among other dangers.
Second, these challenges are not just the CIO’s concern. Success—or lack thereof—rests with the entire team, including the procurement, HR, finance, legal, and program office organizations. The good news is that this is becoming widely understood. ELC devoted the Tuesday morning discussions to a “CXO Town Hall” for a substantive and fascinating analysis of the intersection of workforce, acquisition and technology.
Finally, there are some promising developments that promoting progress on all these fronts. GSA’s Acquisition Gateway is a place for acquisition professionals to develop expertise, share reusable procurement information, and make more informed decisions. Shared services will help streamline common functions and free up budget dollars for modernization. And FITARA, the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, holds promise as a step forward for accountability and results.
Though the challenges are daunting, venues like ELC create an environment where we can innovate and do good work together. By sharing lessons learned from these and other early successes, attendees from both government and industry can move the ball forward.
This post was first published in Federal Times at http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/it/blog/2015/11/10/elc-and-challenges-future/75518110/.