Tag Archives: IT Priorities

How Pandemic Response Is Shifting federal IT

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Image: London School of Economics and Politiacl Science

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The pandemic response has shown the traditional 12 to 36 month acquisition planning cycle is not how we need to do things“, says Harrison Smith, Deputy Chief Procurement Officer, at the IRS.

COVID-19 has underscored the need for us to move ahead in a more agile manner but also balance that quicker capability with responsible spending”

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“From supply chain, to acquisition, to automation, the federal response to COVID-19 is changing what IT means to agencies, according to several top federal IT managers.

As the pandemic grew, the Small Business Administration ramped up its telework efforts and surged its personnel and IT to support disaster and small business loan portals, the agency was told there were potential shortages desktop and laptop computers and lagging supplies of peripheral devices such as mice and monitors, according to agency CIO Maria Roat. That shortage, however, didn’t slow the efforts down, as the General Services Administration and NASA’s SEWP contract had enough to support SBA’s efforts, she said, but it showed a potential problem.

With other agencies, including Health and Human Services and the Veterans Administration looking for similar IT gear, “the supply chain on the hardware side was stressed,” said Roat during an April 30 ACT IAC teleconference.

Cross-agency teamwork, she said, is a critical piece of such a huge response. SBA’s dozens of field offices, for instance, can now rely on IT support from GSA and Agriculture Department IT field personnel because of collaboration through the Federal CIO Council, according to Roat. “I haven’t used that yet,” she said, but it’s helpful to know the help is there.

In setting up its telework and loan platform efforts, Roat said SBA has leveraged software defined networking, collaborative technologies, such as Skype, and Microsoft Teams.

In support of the loan platforms, said Roat, SBA has turned up its Gigabit bandwidth on Ethernet backbone circuits to handle the traffic on the portals. The agency, she said, plans to add more capabilities, as well hone existing capabilities in the coming weeks.

“We’re now getting ready for release five” of those portal efforts, she said. The agency will add additional features, such as chat boxes, a way to view active cases and additional workflow refinements, as well as additional personnel, she said.

The COVID-19 response, said Harrison Smith, deputy chief procurement officer, at the IRS, has shown the federal government needs faster, more responsive methods to get what it needs in times of crisis. The pandemic response has shown the traditional 12 to 36 month acquisition planning cycle “is not how we need to do things,” he said.

COVID-19 “has underscored the need for us to move ahead in a more agile manner” but also balance that quicker capability with responsible spending, he said.

That could mean making a way for agencies to shift to more creative ways of getting things on the fly, possibly forgoing interagency agreements for say, shared services, for instance, according to Smith.

GSA, said Beth Killoran, the agency’s deputy CIO, is learning to leverage drones, data analytics and virtual capabilities to handle more of its federal building management duties. The agency is using geotagged images to track contractors’ construction or repair work on its buildings, to save local and federal building inspectors from having to make a trip to sites, she said. The agency is tasking drone aircraft to do exterior building inspections, as well. GSA has also tapped public data of COVID-19 hotspots at federally-owned medical facilities, to inform where its cleaning crews can safely do their work.

Modernized IT, said Roat, Killoran and Smith, is key to responding to such a huge crisis. The workforces at GSA, SBA and IRS, they said, have adapted quickly to telework because they had begun to move toward telework before the crisis.

House lawmakers previously proposed a $3 billion bump for the Technology Modernization Fund in a COVID-19 bill that ultimately went nowhere, but future additions are possible. Roat, who is on the TMF board that approves projects for funding said it’s unclear if any new funding will be approved.

SBA, she said, spent 50 intense days planning and executing a plan to implement IT to support public-facing portals and services for COVID-19 response.

“From where I sit, I’d bet other agencies are doing the same” reflection on how to move ahead from here, she said. “How would we use that $3 billion to look at the bigger picture?” Should it concentrate on shared services, she wondered. “Everyone is at home right now. Everyone is digital. We need to ramp up out digital citizen interaction.”

https://fcw.com/articles/2020/04/30/covid-changing-federal-tech-rockwell.aspx?oly_enc_id=

Washington, D.C. CIOs Reveal Hiring Plans And Top Priorities For First Half Of 2017

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Image: “IBM.com”

“PRNEWSWIRE”

“Security and System Upgrades Top [Concerns] for Local Technology Leaders.

Sixteen percent of Washington, D.C.-area technology executives surveyed recently expect to expand their IT teams in the first half of 2017, according to the just-released Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report.

In addition, 68 percent plan to hire only for open IT roles, 12 percent plan to put hiring plans on hold, and 4percent expect to reduce their IT staffing levels in the first six months of the year. Hiring is not all technology leaders are thinking about, as 32 percent named maintaining the security of their IT systems and safeguarding company information as their most top-of-mind concern for the first half of 2017, while upgrading existing systems for business efficiency followed with 24 percent of the response.

Top Concerns for CIOs
To further understand the priorities of CIOs in Washington, D.C., for the upcoming year, they were asked, “In addition to recruitment, which of the following do you anticipate will be top-of-mind for you in the next six months?” Their responses:

  • Maintaining security of IT systems/safeguarding company information (32 percent)
  • Upgrading existing systems (24 percent)
  • Investing in new technologies (17 percent)
  • Helping grow the business (13 percent)
  • Staff retention (13 percent)

“New applications development and web projects are driving hiring locally, particularly in the service, nonprofit and healthcare sectors,” said Chris Brinkman, regional manager for Robert Half Technology in Washington, D.C. “In the capital region, specifically, there is a wait-and-see mentality following the election, which is impacting government contracting companies, as well as other service companies tied to the government. But we’re expecting to see demand remain strong for tech talent in 2017 — especially for hard-to-find professionals like project managers and application developers.”

Washington, D.C. IT Hiring Forecast

Jan.–June 2017

CIOs adding more staff to IT departments

16%

CIOs planning to hire only for open IT roles

68%

CIOs who plan to put IT hiring plans on hold

12%

CIOs who plan to reduce their IT staff

4%

Don’t know future hiring plans

0%

Hiring forecasts are based on interviews with more than 2,500 CIOs from 25 major U.S. markets who were asked to provide a six-month hiring outlook.

Recruiting Challenges & Skills in Demand
Hiring challenges remain, as 64 percent of CIOs said it’s somewhat or very challenging to find skilled IT professionals today. The skills in greatest demand within their organizations, according to respondents, include:

  • Database management (47 percent)
  • Network administration (43 percent)
  • Cybersecurity (43 percent)”

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/washington-dc-cios-reveal-hiring-plans-and-top-priorities-for-first-half-of-2017-300375025.html