When I was first asked by the Chief Information Officer of the Department of the Interior, Sylvia Burns and the Geospatial Information Officer, Dr. Jerry Johnston, whether I would consider a nomination to serve on an exciting new committee being formed by the CIO Council, my first question was to ask “Where do I need to go and when do I need to be there?”
As a young professional in government, I have quickly learned of the innumerable benefits of participating in conversations across government, whether it is the line of business I am dedicated to or hearing of the efforts protecting all of our Nation’s vital interests. Little did I know the inaugural IT Solutions Challenge, jointly supported by the CIO and CAO Councils, would not only be a singular opportunity to listen to the IT acquisition challenges being faced by the U.S. Government, but rather six months of opportunities to listen, workshop, and define those challenges with the distinct purpose of resolving them.
Over the course of our initial workshop, recently held in mid-April, I was one of many fellow professionals drawn from information technology, cybersecurity, and acquisitions charged with catalyzing a conversation centered around identifying the IT acquisitions challenge we faced yesterday and how to solve them today. The rapid pace of conversation, exchange of ideas, and identification of common ground, itself reflected the need to quickly act in the interest of the American public and immediately stimulate a number of ideas upon which could be enacted to ultimately bring value to every taxpayer dollar.
As a representative of the Department of the Interior, I fully intend on sharing the successes, best practices, and lessons learned we have collected over the course of our own IT transformation initiatives over recent years. Participating in the IT Solutions Challenge will not only allow us to personally reflect on the common challenges we face as the federal professionals charged with the efficient management of government purchasing, but also workshop, research, and propose pathways forward in approaching the evolving field of IT acquisitions.
Drawing to the end of our initial IT Solutions Challenge workshop, we clustered into several teams through an organic process which took into account our interests, strengths, and desired areas for professional growth. My team, which I am excited to be a part of, includes participants from the Department of Commerce, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Social Security Administration, and myself, from the Department of the Interior.
I could not have imagined that agencies representing every vital interest of the nation could be facing such similar challenges across their distinct lines of business. I have little doubt over the next six months, our participation in the IT Solutions Challenge will result in moments of creativity, discovery, and ultimately a moment of action. As only a week has passed in the IT Solutions Challenge, luckily, I am not asking my leadership where do I need to go and when do I need to be there, but rather observing within our group the goals our team will keep in focus, the next action our team will take, and when we will make this all happen.