Page 57 - FCW, November/December 2020
P. 57

the past several months had chal- lenged some assumptions about essential legacy systems at his agen- cy. “It’s been interesting watching the winners and losers in our port- folio when you shift work like this,” he said. “We actually took a lot of pressure off our bespoke infrastruc- ture, the actual physical network, because so many activities moved out to the cloud.” The number of employees who truly needed secure access to the on-premises systems “was actually a very small minority.”
Another noted that IT’s newfound “mission-essential” status does not often extend to the expense of shut- ting down old systems. “I’m chal- lenged with that,” she said. “Once we bring in new capabilities, [we need] the investment to go shut down the existing system because they’re not typically just turn it off and you’re done with it.”
Another challenge that’s on the horizon is the technical debt some agencies have incurred in their scramble to provide employees with the needed tools. Although there are cybersecurity risks that can be reduced further, the larger concern is managing user expectations.
“I erred on the side of giving peo- ple too much — too many choices, too many platforms,” one CIO said. “It made them effective, but I’m not looking forward to taking some of that back and getting down to a consolidated strategy that I can manage.”
Rethinking the roadmap
For all the anecdotes of agencies modernizing business processes that should have been revisited years ago, several participants said they are seeing signs of truly forward- looking change. “People were talk- ing about what we are going to do when things go back to normal,” one official said, referring to pre- pandemic operations. But now, the
emphasis is on embracing and build- ing on the changes of recent months: “This is normal. This is it.”
Another had doubts that the culture changes will stick, noting that leaders in his department were generally back in the office full-time. “It’s one thing to say telework is allowable. It’s another thing for [an organization’s leader] to telework two days a week. One of those gives you permission. The other one starts to instill it as a cultural value or a way of doing business. Fingers crossed that we’ll see more of those kinds of cultural signals come in. It’s that kind of stuff that is going to help these business processes not just be accommodations to the pan- demic, but actually steps forward in the way that we work.”
There was general agreement that the government’s commitment to digital transformation — having been stressed across at least two successive administrations — was here to stay, regardless of the out- come of an election that was still a month away when the roundtable discussion took place.
“I don’t think it matters,” one official said of the political leadership question. “I think if we continue to do our jobs and provide value, we’ll continue to have the momentum.”
Another agreed, saying: “The stuff happening above the department level for us is much less important than the extent to which we’re successful in explaining to our leadership how our modernization directly supports the mission.”
One CIO said a far greater con- cern was that this year’s IT mod- ernization efforts would not fully account for the human strains the COVID-19 crisis has caused. “If the technology can do it, but we burn out the people,” he said, “it ain’t going to work.” n
Participants Rocky Campione
CIO, Department of Energy
Robert Costello
Executive Director on detail to Border Enforcement and Management Systems Directorate, Office of Information andTechnology, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Jamie Holcombe
CIO, U.S. Patent andTrademark Office
Stephen Kovac
Vice President of Global Government and Head of Corporate Compliance, Zscaler
David Nelson
CIO, Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Jose Padin
Director of Pre-Sales Engineering, U.S. Public Sector, Zscaler
Peter Ranks
Deputy CIO for Information Enterprise, Department of Defense
Maria Roat
Deputy Federal CIO, Office of Management and Budget
Donna Roy
CIO, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Francisco Salguero
CIO, Federal Communications Commission
Nancy Sieger
Acting CIO, Internal Revenue Service
Howard Spira
CIO, Export-Import Bank of the United States
Gary Washington
CIO, Department of Agriculture
Karen Wrege
CIO, Directorate of DefenseTrade Controls, Department of State
Note: FCW Editor-in-ChiefTroy
K. Schneider led the roundtable discussion.The Oct. 8 gathering
was underwritten by Zscaler, but
the substance of the discussion and the recap on these pages are strictly editorial products. Neither Zscaler nor any of the roundtable participants had input beyond their Oct. 8 comments.
November/December 2020

   55   56   57   58   59