Federal Agencies Prepare for a Digital Future

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Officials from various Federal agencies are focusing on data-driven approaches, utilizing blockchain, and business-focused functions to brace for a digital future. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Transportation Security Agency (TSA) spoke today about what their agencies were doing to keep pace with the evolution of technology and how it impacts their respective departments.

Chief Product Officer for HHS’ Division of Acquisition Oki Mek and DHS Deputy Chief Human Capital Officer Roland Edwards spoke at length at Think Gov 2019 about using a data-driven approach and being able to analyze the data being collected to understand what it means. Not just collecting troves of data for the sake of collecting it, but making sure that it has a useful purpose.

Mek made mention of HHS using machine learning to help this process. He said that having different systems being able to “speak the same language” is critical for efficiency. Mek also recommends that agencies focus on the business need and that the IT component of a business project is secondary.

“It’s a business project with an IT component,” he said.

TSA Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell said that a lesson she has learned in preparing for a digital future is to really value the relationships between public and private partnerships. The government doesn’t control or run every aspect of transportation businesses, but those same businesses are the ones that must implement regulations. For example, maintaining a strong relationship with aircraft manufacturers is essential for smooth supply chain. There is also a connection between private and public businesses in terms of cybersecurity that can benefit from a strong relationship.

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