By Dick Stark
Last Thursday RightStar exhibited at the ATARC virtual summit: “The Role of Emerging Technology in the Federal Emergency Response.” We offered a free Agility Assessment from Agility Health, information about Jira Align, and new content around project and portfolio management. Here’s a short summary of the keynote and following panel discussion.
Keynote. Suzette Kent, Federal CIO, opened the event by discussing the role of emerging technology and the ongoing pandemic. Suzette happily reported that “our investment in IT and data has paid off.” She shared several success stories around agility, scaling and rapid application development, cybersecurity, data initiatives and workforce enablement. Her bottom line: “This is the way modern tech works. It is also the foundation of mission continuity.”
Suzette also emphasized that government agencies must stay focused on long term digital transformation. Mission agility should be a continual focus, and agency collaboration tools such as online document management that enable agility should be considered. Other critical enablers include: deployment of automated technology to the right use cases, expansion of cloud and scalable solutions, and assurance that citizens continue to have access to required systems. Suzette concluded, “We have proof points in emergency and normal times. Let’s capitalize on what we learned knowing we have the capability to handle anything.”
Panel Discussion. CIOs from Commerce/ITA, SBA, US Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, and NRC each described the progress they made in dealing with the pandemic including remote access and teleworking. One of the most interesting was Sanjay Gupta, CTO at the Small Business Administration.
Sanjay is not a government “lifer,” He came from the commercial side, and has just 3.5 years of government experience. In that short amount of time, he has made extensive progress, in the areas of modernization to include cloud, collaboration, and cybersecurity. Thanks to the pandemic, and the resultant CARES Act, SBA is responsible for $695B in loans to small businesses, $500B of which is already dispersed. Sanjay pointed out that in the history of the SBA dating back 60 years, SBA has disbursed more funds in the last two months than the past 60 years.
The question Sanjay addressed effectively is how to scale. He used an augmentation approach combined with “velocity.” Thanks to effective systems he had the ability to manage, track, and secure all his assets. Sanjay quickly discovered, that email as an intake system did not scale and pointed out that email is now “obsolete.” His solution? He “harvested” email using automation tools. The end result: SBA is an Agile agency that can rise to the challenge using collaboration tools and automation to meet tight deadlines and fulfill the agency’s mission objectives.