Attendees today are looking for more than an informative event. In an age where you can learn almost anything via YouTube, why would you take time out of a busy schedule to attend an event in person? It's all about the experience of learning with others and connecting with new people. Fortunately, event producers do not have to resort to bringing in elephants and fire breathers a 'la PT Barnum, there are a number of ways to drive the interactivity of events.
Many times the biggest hurdle to making a show more interactive is not technology or process, but attitude. During the planning stages, there is frequently a push-back that, "our attendees won't like that." While it is important to know your audience, a look at some basic demographics shows that most attendees (especially those going to Government-focused events) will embrace the opportunity to participate in a more interactive event.
People who were educated in the U.S. over the past 25 years were most likely exposed to "team learning." They broke into groups, discussed findings, gave presentations, and often experienced a very democratic way of learning. In childhood, the cartoons people watched talked directly to them and asked for help in problem solving - Blues Clues or Dora the Explorer broke the fourth wall of theater asking children to help find the circle. Continue reading
The Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act was passed in late 2017 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. MGT creates working capital funds for IT projects that will "improve service delivery to the public, secure sensitive systems and data, and save taxpayer dollars."
This $228 million fund allows agencies to borrow money to transition to new technologies. It can also serve as the start-up for working capital funds for ongoing IT projects. Agencies must submit proposals to an interagency board in order to receive money from the general fund. This Technology Modernization Board will be responsible for approving certain projects and making funding recommendations to the General Services Administration, which administers the funds.
This money is intended to fund critical efforts including replacing infrastructure and applications that pose a high cybersecurity risk, legacy systems that are costly to operate, and IT that can support citizen service goals as laid out in the President's Management Agenda. The goal of MGT is to jump start projects that will generate future savings for agencies, but repayment is not contingent upon agencies actually seeing those savings, the loan must be repaid regardless of project results or savings.
MGT is really a proof of concept, or a new way of funding IT within government. As OMB and GSA work to provide guidance and administer the funds, agencies are looking for ways to present their projects in the best light to not only receive funding but also achieve efficiency goals. Luckily, there are a number of events where agencies can share modernization experiences and best practices as well as discuss how best to use MGT funds. Here are a few events that will focus on modernization as a key goal within government.
- Defense Systems Summit (July 11; Arlington, VA) - With a theme of IT Everywhere: Technology's Role in Tomorrow's Military, this 1105 Media event will bring together the DoD community to discuss how IT teams manage operations by maintaining legacy systems alongside emerging technology. With a focus on weaving in modern technologies, the event will include discussion on AI, defense cyber tools, IoT, and more.
- Beyond Telework. IT Modernization Strategies for Competing in the Full Employment Era (July 24; Washington, DC) - This event is focused on how the federal government can compete to secure the best and brightest talent. With enthusiasm for teleworking tempering within government (and it being so widely used in the private sector), agencies need to look to other IT modernization strategies to create a flexible, next-gen workplace.
- Cyber Excellence: Modern, Secure, Resilient (August 2; Washington. DC) - Looking at modernization through the reality of MGT funding, this event looks to explain how to use the guidance and funding coming from the executive branch to accelerate progress. Discussion will focus on key cyber strategies that will improve security postures today while paving the road to a more dynamic, high performance government.
- IT Modernization Conference @930gov (August 28; Washington, DC) - This event will look at the current state of the Executive Office's 'Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government' initiative and address what lies ahead for FY'19 and beyond. Sessions will address the strategies, tactics and policies around the modernization efforts.
- 2018 Public Sector Innovation Summit (December 4; Washington, DC) - Attendees will explore how technology-driven innovation is advancing government. Top technology innovators and influencers across the public and private sectors will converge to discuss what's shaping the future of digital government.
We'd love to hear from you. Where are you learning about how best to apply for and use MGT funds? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies are becoming more mainstream in consumer life as well as in the business of government. While the military has long used virtual reality simulations for training, the Pokemon Go! phenomenon brought AR to the masses and opened the door for the use of virtual worlds in many more situations.
First, some quick differentiators-
- Virtual Reality - A user is completely immersed in a simulated world. Usually achieved by wearing a headset or entering a simulation chamber. Virtual reality experiences tend to be solitary endeavors.
- Augmented Reality - A user can move around in the real world while interacting with the virtual world via a device, typically a smart phone.
Government organizations are using both AR and VR in a variety of ways to improve workforce productivity as well as citizen service. The American Museum of Natural History is enhancing the experience visitors can have with dinosaur exhibits with the "Dinosaurs Among Us" app that is similar to Pokémon Go. For government teams, virtual reality glasses are being used to replicate physical spaces so that someone at the office can see exactly what someone in the field is seeing. Continue reading
As summer vacation is in full swing across the country, we're sure many of you are missing tracking the grades of your students (insert sarcasm font here). We wanted to fill that void with a look at where agencies stand on their FITARA report cards. We've written here before about the progress, and lack of progress, agencies are making regarding modernizing IT infrastructure and services. The sixth report card on FITARA compliance was issued in May so we wanted to revisit the topic.
The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) was enacted in December 2014 and agencies are evaluated on their progress against the Act's goals about twice a year. The latest report found that despite a renewed focus on modernization from both the executive and legislative branch, agencies are actually backsliding in terms of grades.
Part of the challenge agencies had with this reporting period was the addition of a new category to track progress on the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act. This "failure" should perhaps have been graded on a curve since MGT has only been in place since December 2017, meaning many agencies have not yet had a chance to have their proposals funded, much less started work.
But even discounting the MGT "learning curve," agency scores show that there is a real struggle across the board in meeting FITARA goals around: Continue reading
Given that we all walk around with a device in our pockets that has more computing power than it took to put a man on the moon, mobile is a key channel for government to use to reach citizens and get work done. This ubiquity has led to mobile being an integral part of every agency's IT strategy. While this has opened a new medium for citizen interaction, it also raises issues around security and privacy. Today, agencies are looking to balance the opportunities presented by mobile with implementation challenges.
Mobile devices are quickly becoming a channel of choice for emergency communication and coordination. Many in the DC area experienced this firsthand with the Wireless Emergency Alert System test in April. This is in addition to regular use of mobile messaging for localized missing child Amber Alerts nationwide. To support this type of alerting and collaboration the FirstNet network was set up to be a wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. A recent hack-a-thon helped encourage the development of new applications on the network.