The federal government is in a time of rapid transition. We have a new administration, new priorities, new opportunities, and new threats. Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace and agencies are challenged to find innovative ways to leverage technology to support their missions, improve their efficiency, and provide top quality citizen services. But the government can’t just adopt every new and potentially valuable application and device that becomes available. Agencies must balance risk and reward to securely implement new capabilities.
On March 27, the president created the Office of American Innovation. According to the Presidential Memorandum, “This office will bring together the best ideas from Government, the private sector, and other thought leaders to ensure that America is ready to solve today’s most intractable problems, and is positioned to meet tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.”
On June 27, Matt Lira, the special assistant to the president for innovation policy and initiatives, under the White House’s Office of American Innovation, began to lay out the priorities of the Office of American Innovation, which include driving efficiency and improving contracting, hiring and procurement.
“We want to bring people together so we can work on these problems, and hopefully imbue a culture that will endure,” Lira said. “I’ve said this before, but I think it’s still pertinent. If we had the ability to wave a magic wand and instantly deliver a modernized federal government — which of course we don’t, but if we did, within six months we would still have to modernize again, because technology is continually changing.”
The pace of technological advancement must be managed through a culture of innovation across the entire federal government, Lira said. Technology is moving fast and the government must evolve organization, policies, and operations to take advantage of new capabilities while mitigating risk.
Cisco’s role in federal government transformation
At Cisco Federal, my top priority is to support the government in this time of change by helping to modernize and secure their networks, enable digital transformation, and to diversify their consumption choices. All of these objectives are interrelated and complimentary, but require careful planning for successful implementation.
Modernizing and updating government networks is a necessary first step in creating a flexible and scalable digital foundation. According to senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, the head of the Office of American Innovation, the administration supports the Modernizing Government Technology Act. The House of Representatives version of this bipartisan bill was approved in May and the Senate version is in process. The overarching objectives of this bill are to replace legacy IT systems, address cybersecurity risks, and to accelerate the use of the latest applications and devices.
Pay attention to cybersecurity
Careful attention to cybersecurity needs is simply a part of modern business and government. In order to take advantage of new technologies and applications, it is necessary to take an architectural approach to security that spans the full technology spectrum from applications and devices at the edge to data centers and cloud capabilities. Each and every hardware component, software application, device and circuit must be secured to avoid creating a vulnerability that can be exploited. So, essentially, cybersecurity is an essential element of government technology modernization and is intertwined with network modernization.
Before government agencies can take full advantage of digital capabilities, they must develop secure and modern network foundations. Secure networks enable digital transformation and allows agencies to move workloads to secure cloud environments such as FedRAMP offerings and secure private clouds for sensitive and classified data processing and storage. The secure network also enables agencies to begin to integrate IoT devices and edge computing capabilities to support their missions and increase productivity.
The Network. Intuitive.
Combining modern, application-centric, and cloud-ready secure networks with analytics, artificial intelligence and automation creates a platform we call “The Network. Intuitive.” It is constantly learning, constantly adapting and constantly protecting. With an intuitive, secure network, federal agencies can spend less time and budget on maintenance and more on innovation. This is perfectly aligned to the goals of the Modernizing Government Technology Act, and the objectives of the Office of American Innovation.
Like the government, Cisco is in a time of change and innovation. A few years ago, we started on our journey to transform the company. We expanded our focus from hardware products to include software, services, and cloud offerings. We work with our federal customers to adapt and certify our products for use by government agencies. We carefully test and validate that our products and services meet government regulations and requirements including JITC, FIPS, Common Criteria, and other standards. We have developed FedRAMP certified cloud offerings that allow agencies to leverage hybrid cloud capabilities safely and securely.
At every step in our own journey to innovate, transform and create value we consider the needs of our federal customers. Cisco is committed to helping the federal government modernize, innovate and excel. Together we can create a new government technology platform that empowers agencies, maximizes efficiencies, and continues to adapt to a changing world.