Opinions about branding by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A comment on "5 Trends In Government Technology We'll See In 2017"

(Here's the original post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-trends-government-technology-well-see-2017-steve-ressler)

This is an important post but I am not sure I agree with its premise or all of its points.

For one thing, per #3, it appears the assumption is that Hillary Clinton will win. Why does the post assume this? To strategize means to play out both scenarios. Trump vs. Clinton will bring us two dramatically different approaches to government technology. Under Trump, expect his team to take out their calculators and basically slash and burn everything that isn't immediately and obviously justifiable from a *business* (not a government) point of view. Under Clinton, expect an incremental approach to change and a willingness to continue spending even on technology initiatives whose worth is not yet immediately clear.

Regarding #5, I think the private sector is well ahead of the public sector in understanding what outcome-based engagement is. This relates to point #1, data. My sense (although I cannot prove it) is that state and local governments are ahead of the federal government in terms of using data to drive decision-making about outreach. In contrast, I am hard-pressed to think of examples in the federal government where outreach strategies were developed based on integrated, mission-critical desired outcomes, assessed for performance based on data, and modified according to the results of that data. Even when they want to obtain this data -- and they do, because data is a way to justify leadership decisionmaking -- there is red tape surrounding surveying the public for feedback. Whoever wins the election, I really hope that the feedback process opens up and becomes easy so that we can immediately pulse people as to whether our initiatives make sense and are working.

As far as cybersecurity and FEDRAMP (#4), it seems to me a no-brainer that the government should continue to establish and market secure cloud spaces within which federal agencies can do their business without a lot of hassle. It should be extremely easy for agencies to determine what type of service they need; look up what type of platform will support the service (e.g. a cloud-based environment with the right level of security); and order it through an interagency agreement, with a customer service representative walking them through the entire process and available to answer questions and troubleshoot. This is not so much a matter of growth in utilization of FEDRAMP but an internal customer service issue from government to government. Again, regardless of who wins the election it will be up to the feds themselves to create clarity among the service offerings available and educate the incoming political appointees about what is on offer. This requires not only an understanding of technology, but also an understanding of contracting, government funding mechanisms, mission and infrastructure within and across agencies, and the mechanics of establishing points of contact within agencies effectively. Too often, there is a lot of good stuff going on but the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.

One last point I think Steve could have included here is the growth of internal collaboration, workflow management and social networking within agencies, which I would expect to explode by 2018 if not 2017. As the government becomes more familiar with the way millennials work (millennials being the future of government even if they hate how it works right now), there will be a recognition that constant contact and collaboration, including honest discussion, is simply required for productivity and it is not going to go away. Steve's 2009 brainchild, GovLoop, was revolutionary in that it created a space for government employees to have those conversations with one another, albeit in a public space.

As the government grows more and more savvy about this, such conversations will be encouraged and they will be linked with document collaboration, review and approval in a way that's very easy to manage, very secure, and very easy to track in terms of who approved (or altered, or commented on), which text. At the same time, the government will need to establish a set of standard operating procedures in conformance with the law that enable free flowing conversation while also ensuring preservation of documents and discussions for later examination by the public (e.g. FOIA).

If vendors could come up with a way to increase productivity and reduce duplication of effort through a combination of internal social networking, document management, and potentially even the integration of external customer service (such that I can answer your inquiry on Twitter in a manner trackable to an internal discussion, with a ticket number, referencing a public law or guidance document), I think it would literally transform the way government does business forever.

Of course all opinions are always my own. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.