A top IT acquisition official at the General Services Administration (GSA) said this week that Feds need to stop relying on the next “cool tool” to push IT modernization forward, but instead see the process as a way to make agency-wide changes.

“In the 21st century it is not always enough to rely on those cool tools to inspire us and get us to focus on IT modernization,” said Amy Haseltine, the deputy assistant commissioner- acquisitions, Information Technology Category at GSA.

“We really need to adopt a more bidirectional approach that faces change, fixes change, and looks at technology as an opportunity to facilitate change,” she said at ATARC’s Feb. 8 IT Modernization Summit in Washington.

During her keynote speech, Haseltine ticked off three key pillars to leveraging technology and inciting change: inclusion, conscious consideration, and operationalization.

“We believe wholeheartedly in the importance and value of diversity,” she explained.

Haseltine highlighted that the inclusion pillar is critical to bring a diverse set of ideas and perspectives to the table which influence the different types of technologies and tools that are utilized.

“IT modernization is not a one-stop shop,” Haseltine said when referring to her second key pillar. “Conscious consideration is vital to facilitating the IT modernization journey.”

The GSA official said it’s critical to communicate the value of IT modernization within your organization. Haseltine said that includes the four “C’s”: cost savings, convenience, customer commitment, and compliance.

Lastly, the keynote speaker said it is critical that agencies don’t “just think big thoughts, but do big things with those big thoughts.” And operationalization is intended to reflect that exact concept, she said.

“We can design a construct that incorporates a multitude of diverse perspectives. We can set a framework to get access to a multitude of really interesting and exciting tools and technologies,” she said.

“We can even communicate effectively to our employees and our customers about the value technology provides, and the opportunities we have when policies and laws change to take advantage of those technologies,” Haseltine said. “But unless we actually have the vehicle of ways to deliver on it, they’re words.”

The GSA IT acquisition expert left the audience with three final thoughts when it comes to IT modernization:

  • It takes a village;
  • You have to walk the talk; and
  • This is a never-ending journey.
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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.