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May 08, 2020

Public Service Recognition Week – CIO Council

By Suzette Kent, Federal Chief Information Officer


As I think about Public Service Recognition Week, I always reflect on the most frequently asked question I receive – “What is the difference between public sector and private sector in doing transformational work?”

I usually answer this question with an analogy: Major initiatives in the private sector feel like a sprint, while Major initiatives in the government feel like an obstacle course within a marathon.

In the private sector, the CEO sets the objective. The goal line is clear. Needed resources are dedicated. The entire entity is focused on a common goal.

On the public sector side, the Administration sets goals. Multiple organizations have a decision point in resource alignment. The acquisition process has many steps, rules, oversight requirements and protocols that are unique to government, and at times, unique to agencies. These are all hurdles to clear before you even start the real work. When I look at the end to end process, there are more steps, more decision makers, and many requirements, that even when perfectly executed, is a long and complex process.

So, as I reflect on public service recognition week, I want to thank the dedicated and tenacious public servants in the technology community who boldly take on the marathon and brave the obstacles. Government employees who are not daunted by the challenges but find ways to overcome, align and drive change for the sake of mission.

I also thank those who continuously seek to improve processes that don’t add value to mission outcomes. That is especially important right now, because the focus, pace, and innovation that has happened as part of the national response to COVID-19 has proven that we can move at the pace of a sprint…and that is a good thing.

Thank you all for your service.

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