Just like in the business world, the way public sector professionals use data and technology has changed out of all recognition in the past decade. For any manager – in public administration or private business – getting the most from technology is now as fundamental a management skill as managing a team.
This has changed how the IT function’s services are used throughout the public sector. For example, technology management is no longer siloed within the agency’s IT function; many internal departments now actively procure, use, and manage IT products. Again, just like in business, IT is still very much needed but the role it plays is changing.
And this is not just a story about internal operations – externally, agencies across the US administration are hoping to inspire new ideas by making reams of data available to be shared between agencies, and between agencies and private citizens.
Internal and external demand is blurring boundaries that have conventionally delineated government IT teams from the rest of their agency colleagues. And, as a result, a more open – and accessible – government is beginning to take shape.
How You Can Take Advantage
Some government agencies are already taking advantage of the blurry boundaries trend. For instance, some are creating open data initiatives to become a primary source of data for other agencies and private citizens, and some government contractors are creating services that can be universally adopted by all agencies, in an attempt to streamline government technology adoption. For example:
Spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden as the Cancer Moonshot, the initiative will hopefully engage medical researchers not directly employed by NCI to crowdsource data analysis. It’s then hoped that the increase in information will help NCI reach a cure for cancer faster.
18F, a “lean digital services agency” set up by the General Services Administration, has created cloud.gov, an open source, developer-friendly, secure platform-as-a-service that is open to all agencies (this in-depth Fast Company article covers 18F’s work as part of a broader sweep of government IT).
It can help organizations accelerate the process of assessing information security controls and authorizing systems. According to the Government Accountability Office (pdf), “The goal of cloud.gov is to provide government developers and their contractor partners the ability to easily deploy systems to a cloud infrastructure with better efficiency, effectiveness, and security than current alternatives.”
18F is also working on a shared authentication platform for users who need to log into federal websites for government services. The GAO writes (pdf), “This system is designed to be each citizen’s ‘one account’ with the government and allow the public to verify an identity, log into government websites, and if necessary, recover an account.”
By giving citizens and government stakeholders “one account,” 18F makes it significantly easier to access government services.