The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently heard from Trump Administration leaders about their modernization strategies following the enactment of the Modernizing Government Technology Act and the implementation of the Administration’s IT Modernization strategy. A new report by the IBM Center for The Business of Government, “A Roadmap for IT Modernization in Government” by Gregory Dawson of Arizona State University, offers some timely insight on the issue.
Dawson’s recommended roadmap is based on research into past experiences in IT modernization at the federal and state level, as well as in industry. He draws from his research and extensive case interviews with federal and state chief information officers. Using these lessons, he frames the impediments to modernization as well as risks for agencies that do not modernize, including continued exposures to cybersecurity weaknesses.
The report develops eight key lessons for government leaders at various stages of IT modernization, and concludes by setting out a roadmap for implementation that agencies can adapt to address these key lessons. It will help officials develop a modernization business case, establish and implement a change management strategy, and measure real progress. The report also examines the status of IT modernization in the public sector, and identifies key lessons from private industry and government agencies that include:
- Understand the organizational drivers for modernization.
- Plan at the enterprise level; implement at the local level.
- Communicate value to citizens and shareholders.
- Focus on people, then address processes and technology.
- Make modernization a long-term commitment.
Based on these key lessons, the roadmap below illustrates how successful IT modernization can take place in government, in a manner consistent with the recently-passed Modernizing Government Technology Act. Major points include:
- Modernize as an ongoing process rather than a single standalone event.
- Seek feedback throughout the process to capture and act on lessons learned.
- Focus on how technology supports mission goals.
- Identify stakeholders for each step, making leadership and operational staff aware of their requirements and empowering them to act.
- Ensure check-ins with agency leaders and key users throughout the process.
- Blend a strong execution strategy, technical approach and the right team.
- Provide 360-degree communications to foster knowledge and buy-in.
- Measure results both inside and outside the organization.
If the government embraces these lessons, agencies can reduce operating costs, lower the risk of cybersecurity attacks, and position themselves to take advantage of new technologies, including cloud, analytics, mobile, and artificial intelligence.
The report concludes with a recommendation that government make key investments in IT modernization, identifying and prioritizing the necessary initiatives for maximum effectiveness. Priority investments should be integrated into the budget planning cycle to provide a foundation for continuous innovation and improvement. With recent statutory and agency progress, the federal government is well-positioned to modernize its technology backbone and improve mission performance.