The Federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Energy, hosted Federal Tech Day 2023 to showcase innovative technologies developed by federal agencies to help deliver their programs’ missions.
The day-long event held at the Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C., brought together executives, technologists, and government leaders from nearly 30 federal agencies. More than 1,800 people attended in person and virtually.
Purpose: Impact Through Innovation
New technologies and solutions developed by federal agencies have a direct impact on agency mission outcomes and the lives of the American public. In order to drive change, we must do it together and that is why the Federal CIO Council sponsored this event — it’s a forum to bring technologists together to share information and best practices for the betterment of the public.
”We need to be open, transparent, and willing to share information. The tech is not slowing down. We need to be speeding up.” — Clare Martorana, Federal CIO at the Office of Management and Budget.
The technology expo featured hands-on exhibits from 14 agencies, keynote speeches by Congressional representatives and federal leaders, and presentations on a variety of trending technology topics including fraud detection and prevention and innovations in cybersecurity. Several agencies were recognized for their great work in technology. The awards included:
- Best Increase in Productivity — Internal Revenue Service: Augmented Reality Mobile Application
- Improvement of UX/CX (User Experience/Customer Experience) — U.S. Department of Labor: Identity Proof – Virtual & In-Person Solutions
- Best Utilization of Data – U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Cloud-based Data Visualization and Dashboards
- Best Enhancement of Workplace Safety – U.S. Department of Labor: Mine Emergency Response Equipment
- Best Overall — U.S. Department of Agriculture – U.S. Forest Service in collaboration with the Department of Interior and National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Technology in Action: Supporting our Wildland Firefighters
Digital Transformation: Better Service to the Public
During the conference, panelists from the Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Agriculture, AmeriCorps, and Postal Regulatory Commission shared how they have driven transformation as a result of the Technology Modernization Fund.
“We are showcasing how the Federal Government is using technology to improve mission delivery and provide the digital experience the American public deserves. At the Department of Labor, as a result of the Technology Modernization Fund investments, we have expedited the processing of work visa certifications and increased data sharing with other government agencies. These are just two examples. We are consistently working on modernizing IT, reducing technical debt, and improving the end-user’s experience.” — Gundeep Alhuwalia, CIO of the Department of Labor.
Panelists also discussed the impact Digital Transformation has on public facing services highlighting one use case from the Department of Veterans Affairs. “When we realized we needed to turn around the mirror not to face us, but to face the customer that we were trying to serve, then all of the transformation happened. When we just heard what the veterans wanted, it broke down the silos we had internally and we were able to all get aligned and deliver for veterans. Digital Transformation is utilizing technology that is simple, seamless, and secure to deliver services to the public. There is the people and the process part of this as well that I think is a really important component of Digital Transformation because, if you are not bringing the people along on the journey, just delivering technology solutions is not going to net you the benefits you anticipate.” — Clare Martorana
“Digital Transformation is not about just implementing technology. It’s about fundamentally reshaping organization culture, processes, and the mindset to have a digital-first approach. I think this digital-first approach is about the fact that everything is available on devices now and that experience is what our citizens want and expect. This requires leadership, vision, but really it’s about mission-driving technologies. In my 38 years across seven agencies, this has always been about mission and mission first. It’s also having a strategic vision and innovation. We have to innovate because our technology not only automates inefficient processes faster, but digital transformation offers you a way to reengineer those processes.” — Sonny Bhagowalia, CIO of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
AI Helping Employees Work Better
Several speakers agreed that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the biggest force multiplier for mission delivery in the coming future.
“AI gives us the opportunity to bring people into higher value work. It’s incumbent upon us as leaders to train those folks. So, we can say, ‘Okay. We are going to replace some part of your job or maybe all that you are doing with technology and we’re going to give you something more valuable to the organization or to the public.” — Ann Dunkin
”We are thinking about the opportunity – the dirty and dangerous work, the mundane work – that can be accomplished using AI. I’m really excited about seeing ways people across government and the private sector are going to be utilizing these technologies in order to make simple things easier to complete. Thinking about ways we can use this technology to be more predictive and be helping us so you can say, such as at (Veterans Affairs), ‘If you applied for these benefits, did you know you are also eligible for these other things?’ Hopefully, we will be able to utilize this to drive down the time tax and the burden on humans in order to do things that are of higher value. It’s definitely aspirational.” — Clare Martorana
“AI is going to pervade everything we do. The golden rule that we have is that the agent or the officer is still the person in charge and the AI is the assist.” — Sonny Bhagowalia
Continue to Collaborate
Closing out the event, speakers encouraged attendees to continue sharing their success stories with each other and partner together to discuss the challenges of today and tomorrow and share information and resources.
“Continue the relationships you made today. Continue to reach out. And continue to learn what your colleagues are doing and what you can do to grow and learn from them. Technology is an enabler of our success, and the challenges have to do with people, process, and culture. Those are also our solutions – people, process, and culture – to make us a better world, a better organization.” — Ann Dunkin