Lessons learned about IT modernization and cloud adoption in government

Author: Jessie Tobin

Date published: May 3, 2024

The cloud has played a pivotal role in federal IT modernization efforts for three decades, enabling agencies to update infrastructure and systems for scalability and flexibility. Now, as agencies look to build out the next generation of their IT infrastructure to support AI and meet the demand for high-quality customer experiences, the cloud is continuing to help agencies, like the CIA and FDIC, meet the long-held goal of secure information sharing.

During the recent Federal Executive Forum: IT Modernization in Government agency leaders and industry partners discussed their priorities and strategies for the upcoming year. Speakers emphasized the importance of comprehensive modernization roadmaps and the need to prioritize customer requirements throughout the process. The panelists included:

  • Jeff Seaton, Chief Information Officer, NASA
  • Silvia Burns, Chief Information Officer, FDIC
  • Dale Chidester, Deputy Chief Information Officer Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • Guy Cavallo, Chief Information Officer, OPM
  • Ken Gonzalez, Director of Solutions Architecture Public Sector, Verizon
  • Heidi Kobylski, Vice President, Federal Civilian Microsoft
  • Jonathan Alboum, Federal CTO and Principal Digital Strategist, ServiceNow
  • Moderator: Luke McCormack, Host of the Federal Executive Forum

To learn more about how these panelists are migrating to the cloud, read below.

Silvia Burns, Chief Information Officer, FDIC

Silvia Burns stressed that modernization goes beyond technology, emphasizing the significance of investing in workforce development to drive successful transformation, “it's really about people, processes, and technology.” To deliver successful modernization she counseled fellow agency IT leaders to invest time in their existing – and future – workforce.

“We're modernizing how we do modernization. And that means that it's a huge workforce development issue about investing in our people so that they can learn, recruiting people who have skills, and investing in our existing workforce to develop the skills that we need for the future.”

Burns also mentioned how the FDIC is assessing AI’s impact and how they aim to use it effectively while managing risks. Integrating AI inside existing workflows can synthesize data, creating a more streamlined decision-making process.

Dale Chidester, Deputy Chief Information Officer Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Dale Chidester shared how making the move from legacy technology to cloud-based capabilities has been crucial for modernization. With Commercial Cloud Enterprise (C2E) enabling access to multiple cloud vendors, the CIA can enhance security, scalability, and flexibility to more effectively meet the mission.

“Now with C2E being we can bring multiple cloud vendor capabilities to the top-secret fabric; it’s huge for the intelligence community. This has allowed both our enterprise and our mission IT to start modernizing their infrastructure.”

Looking forward, the CIA has made it a top priority to operationalize its Commercial Cloud Enterprise (CCE) contract. One of the main benefits of this contract includes advancements in areas like AI and generative AI. “Once those things (AI) become available on those classified fabrics, it'll change the way that the community can do business. Not only for our use, but we also hold the contract for the rest of the IC community,” Chidester explained. 

Ken Gonzalez, Director of Solutions Architecture Public Sector, Verizon

Gonzalez emphasized how Verizon works to understand the specific needs of each agency. “Our mission is their mission. And we are happy to support it [in] any way we can. Each one of the agencies...that we work with are at different stages. And they are going through a transformation process that is unique to them.”

The goal of cloud adoption is to help move data seamlessly from its original locations to its destination while prioritizing mission success, data management, and user experiences. Verizon’s main goal is to create a secure hybrid working environment for agencies. This involves integrating 5G as a fundamental component of an agency’s IT environment, as well as adopting quantum computing and AI. “The reality is that we are in a race to make sure that we implement those technologies, and we secure the network. We expect to see more of quantum computing, we expect to see more of AI, and we expect to see more 5G.”

As agencies continue with their cloud journey, it will focus on AI adoption and security to support automation. Cloud service providers will be key to helping agencies build this new definition of a modern IT infrastructure in the next few years. 

Guy Cavallo, Chief Information Officer, OPM

Guy Cavallo shared that the main priorities for OPM are transformation, customer experience enhancement, introducing AI, and completing the agency’s move to the cloud. “We're talking about the major systems of OPM being in the cloud over the next year and allowing [us] to totally get out of data centers, which is tremendous.”

Additionally, Cavallo shared how OPM needs to improve service delivery to citizens while maintaining security. AI is expected to play a more significant role in improving citizen experience in the coming years. “We'll definitely be using more AI to help citizens, federal employees, and retirees, get their information from OPM,” Cavallo said.

As agencies continue their cloud journey, they prioritize AI adoption and security to support automation and enhance customer experiences. Cloud service providers will play a crucial role in helping agencies build modern IT infrastructure. To learn more about the IT Modernization in the federal government, view the webinar.

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