Federal IT leaders should focus on inspiring the workforce to innovate and fostering stronger public-private partnerships, NASA CIO Renee Wynn said Tuesday at Brocade’s 2016 Federal Forum.
It’s not “technology [that] enables what needs to happen,” Wynn said in her keynote address at the Washington, D.C., event, produced by FedScoop. “It’s individuals who spark their imagination and actually do something about it.”
Wynn also urged attendees to renew their focus on relationships between the public and private sectors.
“We need to listen to each other, ask questions and be curious,” Wynn said. “And don’t come in thinking you know the answer or have the solution.”
She highlighted NASA’s partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration and airlines using algorithms to look for the most direct, safe route for planes to avoid storms as an example of a strong public-private partnership.
A former acting CIO and deputy CIO at the Environmental Protection Agency, Wynn joined NASA as its deputy CIO in July 2015, before taking over the CIO role last September.
Wynn discussed her path to becoming leading IT official at NASA at Tuesday’s event.
“One ends up in IT because when you’re in the field you need information,” Wynn said
Emergency responders to events like an oil spill or a natural disaster need access to data and other information on a real-time basis, she said.
That’s part of what led Wynn to a career in IT and to NASA.
“I don’t know astrophysics, I don’t know rocket science — all I know is that IT needs to work for the 55,000 people that call NASA their home every day,” Wynn said.
Following a difficult month for Wynn after NASA earned an “F” on the latest Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act Scorecard from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Wynn opened her keynote address with a bit of humor, joking that this speaking engagement is “a little friendlier” than her last.
NASA received an “F” on both FITARA scorecards.
“Admittedly, NASA’s scores on the FITARA scorecard are unacceptable,” Wynn said at the time, in prepared testimony for a hearing of two subcommittees of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “We have work to do, and challenges to overcome.”