Future of Fed IT Relies on Workforce, Kent Says

Federal CIO Suzette Kent said at the Micro Focus Government Summit today that preparing for the next decade of public sector modernization must include proper Fed training for cyber skills alongside the tech upgrades.

“The tactical challenges each year on the journey may shift based on the latest and best technology, based on our progress inside government, but all the roads and all the paths forward require that we continue to advance the use of technology and data and empower our workforce inside the Federal government to achieve that mission,” Kent said.

“And it’s not just important for the work that we do,” she added. “But in many cases, it’s the fuel behind not only our homeland security, but our private sector business as well.”

For example, as the Federal government makes new investments in tools to advance network architecture, the future of these investments relies on the operations behind the scenes. Kent said that the Federal government is “delivering today, planning for tomorrow” in its modernization efforts. In the instance of network infrastructure, this means planning for what a 5G world would look like.

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“The underlying network infrastructure that supports that [data] has to be secure and resilient. And we’re on a path right now to do some foundational things to address that, but we have to keep it current,” she said.

The issue of data resiliency being built into network infrastructure has come up frequently as lawmakers raise concerns about Chinese 5G providers Huawei and ZTE. Kent commented on how global connectivity is raising awareness about the importance of visibility with Federal business partners.

“If you think about the events going on in our world right now, it’s showing us how fragile our connections are … but it’s also giving us some insight into supply chain and understanding the things that we need to do to be resilient and the actions that we’re taking on hardware, software and activities inside of the Federal government,” she said. “[This will] also apply to partners with whom we do business, ensuring that we will have full visibility.”

Building this trust between the Federal government in the public is also crucial to service delivery. Kent explained that many consumers in the private sector will choose to do business with someone they trust, even if they know products are superior elsewhere. “It’s an interesting concept for us to think about as we continue to design,” she said.

“Our future requires that we’re looking at not just the skills and capabilities, but we’re looking at operationally how we behave and how we empower our teams,” Kent summarized.

Katie Malone
About Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.

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