Leaders must collaborate inside and outside of government for IT modernization to work, brief says

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As federal agencies shelve their floppy disks and retire outdated code, it is crucial for leaders to collaborate with other key technology players on IT modernization, a new report says.

The issue brief is first in a series produced by the Partnership for Public Service and Accenture Federal Services intended to bring leaders up to speed with IT in the federal sector.

“Successful technology efforts in government require high levels of coordination, perhaps more so than in the private sector,” the brief states. “There are a myriad of stakeholders, both within agencies, across government and in the private sector who need to be engaged and invested for efforts to be successful.”

The brief comes as the Trump administration has thrown support behind modernizing federal IT, creating the Office of American Innovation and the American Technology Council. Its fiscal 2018 budget plan backs the concept behind the Modernizing Government Technology Act, which would create a centralized fund agencies can tap into for IT modernization.

The brief encourages federal leaders to forge relationships outside their agencies. It also notes that there are executive-branch positions that play “critical roles in large IT investments” but may not be filled by IT experts, such as:

  • Wage and Investment Commissioner at the Internal Revenue Service
  • Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security
  • Undersecretary of Benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Associate Administrator of the Science and Mission Directorate at NASA
  • Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Leaders should enter any modernization project by listening and learning about the history of stakeholders and the IT projects themselves to facilitate better engagement and avoid repeating predecessors’ missteps, the brief says.

Leaders should also consider themselves partners with technology teams and be involved in oversight to ensure that the IT system supports the mission of the agency, the brief says. Working with the technology team to shape a transformation plan is also important, the brief says.

The Partnership for Public Service and Accenture Federal Service said they will continue to publish briefs “designed to explain what new career and political leaders who are not technology experts need to know about federal IT to be successful.”


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