Kent: Cloud at the Center of IT Modernization

US Federal CIO Suzette Kent OMB MeriTalk CCXB

With modernization initiatives advancing across Federal government in areas like automation, data, and cybersecurity, moving to the cloud can be the jumping off point for all of those efforts, said Federal CIO Suzette Kent.

“This is some of the most transformative work that’s happening in government, because technology has the opportunity to change how we serve citizens. I want to talk about how we look at cloud as the center of that,” said Kent at the ATARC FedRAMP Marketplace Forum today.

Kent highlighted how cloud computing aligns with the IT modernization and data cross-agency priority (CAP) goals in the President’s Management Agenda (PMA). She noted that the recently finalized Cloud Smart policy aims to remove barriers and support agencies in improving their cybersecurity, acquisition, and workforce skills when it comes to cloud.

“As we’re looking at what a cloud transformation journey looks like, it’s the opportunity to reexamine the relationship of the technology and the data and how we assess it, and the opportunity to do more,” she said.

Kent also shared some agency cloud success stories, highlighting the refactoring of business processes at the Small Business Administration, the expansion of automation enabled by cloud at the Department of Education, and the automated monitoring that cloud enabled the Department of Justice to implement.

“Those are all examples of a transformational story driving lots of different things,” she noted. She highlighted the cyber benefits in particular, noting that “you can see that not only in the progress we’re reporting on our modernization goals … but in the FISMA results as well.”

Looking forward, Kent noted that moving to the cloud could help agencies meet their Year 1 Objectives in the Federal Data Strategy.

“There’s significant opportunity there … we can do more with the data we already have, and many of the tools available [in the cloud] support that journey,” she said.

She also noted that agencies need to improve when it comes to application rationalization, citing the Cloud Smart strategy and OMB’s recent App Rationalization Playbook.

“Many agencies still have work to do to look at what their long-term vision is, and where they’re going with their current application footprint,” she noted.

Finally, Kent emphasized the need for government to make sure employee skillsets are evolving alongside the technology, both inside and outside the CIO’s office.

“In industries that are a little bit further along in this journey, it was always an important part of the process to make sure those who are actually using what is deployed … could move as fast as the capabilities are being deployed,” she noted. “That takes a different type of collaboration, and sometimes there are siloes between organizations that we have to break down as part of this process.”

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