Commercial Cloud Solutions Helping Fed IT Move Quickly During Pandemic, Kent Says

Federal CIO Suzette Kent this week applauded the capacity of commercial, cloud-based solutions in helping the government focus on mission continuity and response during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking during a May 14 Dcode webinar, Kent said that part of her role is to be an enabler of the Federal IT community to make sure that each agency has the technology it needs. In that capacity, Kent said she is talking with vendors on a “day-to-day basis” to ensure that agencies are set to respond to the pandemic situation.

“Scalable, cloud-based, easily configurable commercial solutions in so many cases help us move quickly,” Kent said. She continued with the example of data sharing capabilities. The private sector players stepped up to share capabilities, she said, which not only helped in the moment but also built upon long-term Federal IT goals.

“We had some of those principles in the Federal Data Strategy and we had agencies that were doing some things … and this helped take those foundations and explode it because of an urgent need and a commitment to the same thing,” Kent said.

It became an “amazing proof point,” she continued, and helped further the President’s Management Agenda by getting the infrastructure in place for agencies to become data driven. “We’ve still got gaps in infrastructure … but now we have the consumers of the data understanding and I think that that will help us continue to keep up the speed,” Kent offered.

In some cases, agencies were scaling already existing pilots or sharing existing resources with other agencies in order to meet the new demands caused by the pandemic, she said.

“That’s one thing that that I would say for new and up and coming and emerging companies,” Kent shared, “as you expand either footprint or functionality at agencies, those pilots were really important to our being able to scale.”

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