For Federal IT Leaders 2018 will be an Exciting Year of Transformation

For federal IT leaders, 2018 will be an exciting year according to ServiceNow’s CTO, Robert Osborn. In a recent interview with FTI, Osborn shared that this year federal CTOs and CIOs will have “the opportunity to move forward with key initiatives to overhaul aging IT infrastructure under the Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT Act).”  Osborn continued “the fact that the MGT Act passed in a tough legislative environment is testament to the fact that everyone recognizes that IT is central to mission success.”

After many years of stagnant budgets during which time agencies have had to focus on maintaining legacy systems to continue to meet the mission, the MGT Act creates two sources of funding.  The central fund held by the GSA will eventually make $228 million available to agencies and agencies will also be able to leverage working capital funds built from monies saved from other operational areas.

“While we’d all like to see that GSA-held budget fully funded, agencies will be able to do a lot with the working capital funds if they plan wisely,” said Osborn.  When pressed on what wise planning constitutes, Osborn quickly replied “agencies must stop trying to modernize the legacy and focus on transformative projects.”

Echoing the sentiments of former Federal CIO, Tony Scott, Osborn urged federal IT leaders to look for solutions that do not replicate the mistakes of the past. “Federal IT leaders have a unique opportunity to transform how IT is not only purchased, but how it operates. No longer do they need to purchase proprietary software systems that can only address one problem and require a heavy lift in terms of updates and maintenance,” said Osborn.

Looking towards platforms and subscription-based models, for example, helps agencies avoid the sunk costs of acquisition as well as eliminating the costs of maintenance and upgrades.  Moreover, to return to Scott’s vision of the new Federal IT, a model that incorporates “cross-agency” applicability, is definitely a wise investment according to Osborn.

“Agencies need to be able to focus on their core mission, which is delivering services to citizens, warfighters, and other constituents and not worry about their IT infrastructure,” he continued.  “To keep that clarity of mission, agencies should be looking to partners to bring them not only the best solutions for today, but to build a roadmap to ensure that IT always supports the mission and doesn’t detract from it.”

Towards the end of our conversation, Osborn reflected on an interesting part of the legacy IT mindset in the federal government. “For years federal IT teams have operated in ‘heavy-lift’ environments – from trying to work in programming languages that are decades out of date to trying to connect disparate systems, but it doesn’t have to be this way,” Osborn urged. “There is no reason that federal systems shouldn’t be as intuitive as the platforms we use in our personal lives. Transformation isn’t just about getting new tools it’s about delivering a new workflow and a better user experience.

 Want to hear from federal leaders who’ve embarked on their transformation journey? ServiceNow’s Federal Forum is coming up on February 7th, 2018.  Click below to register.

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