Dan Tangherlini, acting administrator of the General Services Administration, wants his agency to be a leader in transformation that serves as a guide for the rest of the federal government.
Speaking Wednesday at FedTalks 2013 at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C., Tangherlini said the federal government needs to break down its walls – both literally and figuratively – to adapt itself for the future.
“We need to chip away at the silos that separate us,” Tangherlini said.
Tangherlini pointed to GSA’s recent overhaul of its F Street headquarters, which it moved back into a few weeks ago. He said that move was the impetus for GSA migrating much of its information to the cloud to help it become a more streamlined organization, especially as the amount of data dramatically increases.
“We’re inventing new words to describe the size of the data we’re creating,” said Tangherlini, who mentioned the amount of mobile data increased 70 percent just from 2011 to 2012.
“The thing is that increase in data is speeding up as more people are collaborating, and we’re finding new ways to collect it,” he said. “In government, we need to find ways to harness that movement to change the way people work in government and interact with it.”
Tangherlini said GSA is trying to do this by changing how it interacts with others, pointing to projects such as Challenge.gov, where federal agencies can post contests to help solve problems collectively. One example from GSA is the “Great Idea Hunt,” where the agency asked employees for ideas and received more than 600, including 20,000 comments.
“There are lots of opportunities to change how we think,” Tangherlini said.