CIO Kent Calls Uncle Sam, Gets Better Service

US Federal CIO Suzette Kent OMB MeriTalk CCXB

Federal CIO Suzette Kent provided a demonstration this morning at the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council’s (ACT-IAC) Imagine Nation ELC Conference to help envision a future for government services that may not be that far away.

Kent made a request of her smartphone. “Phone, call Uncle Sam.”

The call connects. On the other end, a digital assistant – Uncle Sam – greets her. He’s the voice of an automated, citizen services system. Sam tells Kent that her identity has been authenticated via voice recognition, cross-referenced with her phone number.

The system then alerts Kent to the fact that her passport is nearing expiration. Kent informs the system that she’s out of town in Philadelphia, but needs it renewed. Artificially-intelligent Sam forwards Kent passport renewal forms and the locations of the closest offices via text. A moment later, he emails her a foreign travel checklist, since Kent mentioned she’d be leaving the country.

A simple, convenient interaction between government and citizen. “A use and example like this…that’s not that far away. That’s not that outrageous,” Kent said.

Kent said the past year has seen the administration “ignite actions to position our government for the challenges of the 21st century,” and with it “setting a foundation for continuous innovation” like that demonstration.

“We’ve been doing that through multiple tools – executive orders, things like cybersecurity, CIO authorities, and more legislation than in many times past around how we use technology to achieve mission, serve citizens, and improve our stewardship,” she said.

Kent also flagged the use of best-in-class contract vehicles like the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract and other cloud acquisition strategies as ways the Federal government has moved to create a “tight link between the acquisition community and the technology community and our workforce.”

She expressed a commitment to “using every tool to make sure there are no barriers to the modernization journey,” and impressed upon ELC participants that they need to work to accelerate the shift to better services. She pointed to the results of an ACT-IAC and MeriTalk report, calling to mind how many say they can already feel the shift in modernization momentum.

“Those of you that are in this audience, you’re the ones driving that,” Kent said. She encouraged the participants to carry along lessons that could just help create things even greater than putting Uncle Sam to work.

“Don’t walk out of here without the two or three things that you want to do differently,” Kent said. “You’re going to take that back to your agency, and you’re going to be that driver of change…We have the opportunity to make what we imagine the actual reality of tomorrow.”

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