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Joanne Collins Smee, FAS Deputy Commissioner and TTS Director

Strengthening Capacity to Accelerate IT Modernization

| Joanne Collins Smee, FAS Deputy Commissioner and TTS Director
Post filed in: Acquisition  |  Cloud Computing  |  Information Technology  |  Technology Transformation Services

On June 28, I was honored to kick off the first-ever governmentwide Cloud Reverse Industry Training (RIT). RITs help the federal acquisition community learn about the challenges that industry faces through their work with government. Led by the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman, GSA’s Technology Transformation Services’ Secure Cloud Portfolio and the FedRAMP Team partnered with our Office of Government-wide Policy’s Data Center Optimization Team, and the Federal Acquisition Service’s IT Category Management group to bring an integrated, cross-functional perspective to identifying and overcoming barriers for cloud adoption. This most recent RIT was unique in two ways: it was the first GSA RIT that was open to participants from across the entire government, and the first that focused solely on cloud.

Cloud technology is a critical piece in resolving the complex puzzle of federal government IT modernization. By using cloud capabilities government agencies can transform the way they achieve their missions. This is acknowledged in the President's 2018 Management Agenda [PDF] as one of three priorities guiding the administration’s efforts to modernize federal IT:

“Enhancing Mission Effectiveness by improving the quality and efficiency of critical citizen-facing services, including through the increased utilization of cloud-based solutions such as email and collaboration tools.”

Bringing in outside expertise and experience is an important part of understanding modernization problems and developing solutions. Before joining GSA’s Technology Transformation Services last September, I spent 25 years in the private sector working with technologists of varying specializations, solving the multitude of challenges that come with IT modernization. In those years I learned solving the most complex problems in IT requires soliciting a diverse range of skills, perspectives, and personnel.

Through the IT Modernization Centers of Excellence (COEs), we brought some of our best technologists from GSA to work alongside USDA staff and industry experts, accelerating the creation and maintenance of momentum for IT modernization. Within GSA, the TTS team has sought to bring this same collaborative approach to the services it provides, increasing the government’s capacity for modernization by integrating industry input and coalescing insights from across GSA. Cumulatively, this serves to empower organizations, both within GSA and across government, with new ideas and new approaches to modernization.

I was excited to hear similar messages emphasized by the panels at the RIT. Consistently, panelists emphasized how important it was to educate the federal workforce to overcome challenges of cloud adoption. This includes instructing federal employees on how to leverage existing system security documentation, such as FedRAMP, how this strategic approach was tightly integrated with writing contracts that are conducive for cloud procurement, and how to assemble effective teams for planning of cloud migration efforts. RITs and similar events are key conduits for this education, and it is important that we continue to focus on repeating these discussions, and deepening these relationships to create even greater impact.

Looking Ahead
I want to give my sincerest thanks to the team of industry partners who helped us plan and facilitate the June 28th RIT. I also thank the wonderful group of folks from within GSA who worked to organize this event.

This RIT is not the end of our collaboration with industry. Rather, it is just one step along the never-ending journey towards establishing an ongoing, generational culture change of adaptation and optimization as part of our modernization efforts. We expect that we will continue to partner with industry to build a community, educate the federal workforce, and help make the modernization journey a successful one.

If you weren’t able to attend the session, please check it out and let us know what you think should be next.