Government’s missions are unique, large, and complex. As a result, business decisions are often based on a wide range of factors that can only be found in the business of government. Navigating through this maze is challenging and costly for executives in both the public sector as well as their private sector counterparts who support them.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of our monthly newsletter called the “Business Of VA” (Veterans Affairs). Our goal is to share knowledge of key issues facing all Executives in VA’s business ecosystem with a particular focus on Information Technology (IT). While our starting point is VA, much of what we will write about will be applicable to other Federal agencies.
We are driven to help improve the business of government one agency at a time. Ambitious? Of course. Worthy of effort? Absolutely. In the end, we aim to assist both Agency leaders and Private Sector partners to work together as efficiently as possible to provide the best and most cost-effective outcomes to Veterans and their family members.
Among the myriad of topics we will be addressing are:
President’s Management Agenda (PMA). Just released in early November, this capstone document is designed to drive priorities across the entire Federal government. There is a checkered past of Agencies aligning to PMA, and not focusing precious budgets to achieve the highest priority outcomes. Also, IT spending must be aligned to these priorities and related cross agency priority goals. In an era of increased dependence on IT and technology to deliver citizen services and agency outcomes, again, it is critical that even more scarce IT budgets are directed to the most important programs.
Industry/Vendor Partnership. Private sector companies are a key component of how IT products and services are delivered. The VA spends over $30B annually on outsourced products and services, and roughly $3B of that is in IT. The role of Commercial partners in delivering technology solutions grows annually, and commercial entities have commoditized much of the space across all IT categories of management.
Role of the Chief Information Officer. Much has been written, especially after the pandemic, about the increasing role of the CIO in delivering Agency outcomes. In decades past, CIOs have been relegated to back-office functions, but increasingly they are being pulled into the front-office, and in the Federal sector, playing an increasing part in delivery of citizen services. Will their staffing and budgets grow to meet the demands of this changing model?
IT Workforce Is Fundamental to Government’s Mission. The cliché statement references that IT is about “people, process, and technology,” though often the human capital portion is forgotten. The Federal IT workforce has stagnated and is in desperate need not only increased staffing to meet Agency growth and demands, but also, reskilling and upskilling to meet a rapidly evolving IT landscape.
IT Infrastructure. The business of government is like its commercial sector counterparts, in that it requires a modern and scalable IT infrastructure. It must be an environment with the right staff, the right stuff, and the right partnerships. Agency IT priorities and precious budgets must be focused and delivered consistently, where possible, in an increasing enterprise method, with the help of commercial vendors.
As with no other time in our history, Information Technology, and the need to manage IT as a Strategic Resource, is front and center in every Federal Agency. Federal Agency Leaders, Deputies/COOs, Business Line Leaders, CFOs, and more – all need to understand the role of technology, how it is best sourced, the costs and resulting outcomes/business impacts. IT can no longer be seen as some quaint back-office function (like a utility), but a true critical requirement that requires prioritized and sustained investment to deliver Agency outcomes and resulting citizen services.