Commerce, Labor and Education Execs share IT wishlist for new Administration

“With a new administration comes new leaders and, often, a shift in priorities. But the Biden administration has yet to appoint permanent federal IT leaders at the top—namely the federal CIO, which is currently filled by Deputy Federal CIO Maria Roat in an acting capacity. As department-level CIOs wait to see who will set the political priorities for modernization efforts, IT leaders from the departments of Commerce, Education and Labor shared their wishlists for the coming year.

‘Of course, budget is a tremendously important part of this discussion,’ Commerce CIO Andre Mendes said Tuesday during a Government Executive Media Group event on The New Agenda. ‘Unfortunately, in the IT arena, we have a constant stream of new requirements. Some of them regulatory, some of them legislative, some of them created by the environment—let’s say, for example, SolarWinds and everything that comes out of it, all of the issues associated with that in supply chain. We need to ensure we are making smart investments, not only on the ongoing modernization of the entire federal infrastructure but also on all of the up and coming issues.’…”

“’In terms of what I would want: consistent funding would be nice,’ said Education CIO Jason Gray. ‘Not have to deal with the CR … because that is a disservice. How do you plan strategically over multiple years if you literally are constantly having to catch up because you can’t start anything new, you have to continue what you’re doing.’…”

“’You sometimes end up moving money away from modernization that would actually have long-term benefits from a financial standpoint but that you effectively can’t afford in the face of unfunded mandates,’ Mendes said. ‘The benefits of modern technology are enormous. But if you cannot leverage them because you’re spending 60% of your money on legacy platforms, you’re effectively cheating the department, the agency, the taxpayer—not willingly, but effectively—out of a better set of services and even more modern services, better services.’

’It’s always challenging to deal with unfunded mandates that might come down from DHS or OMB or others,’ Rick Kryger, Labor Department deputy CIO for operations, agreed. ‘Those are things we have to comply with. But there are things agencies need to do better themselves. I think the shared services initiative we’ve implemented at the Department of Labor is about getting more efficient—to free up those dollars, eliminate duplication, streamline commodity services—get more efficient to free up those dollars to put into modernization.’…” Read the full article here.

Source: CIOs’ Wishlist for New Congress and Administration IT Leadership – By Aaron Boyd, March 3, 2021. Nextgov.

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