The 2 civilian trends you need to know

Chris Wiedemann

federal budget, civilianBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant, and Kevin Shaker, senior analyst

The president’s FY18 budget request cuts funding to every civilian agency. The good news is that Congress will not entirely approve the spending decreases, but unfortunately, we’ll live in a budget-constrained environment for the next few fiscal years. The IT industry will need to help civilian agencies figure out how to keep systems modernizing.

You’ll hear all about the new FY18 challenges and trends facing companies that sell technology to civilian agencies at the 4th annual Government IT Sales Summit on Nov. 16 in Reston, VA. Here’s a look at two big trends we’ll be discussing:

IT modernization

A major government initiative to watch in FY 18 is the federal IT modernization report created May 1. It recommends the administration rely more heavily on cloud and shared services—all with the goal of increasing efficiency, cutting down on agency costs and evolving the government’s cybersecurity posture. The report also calls for:

  • High value assets (HVAs), which are extremely critical to mission integrity, to migrate to modern architectures with better security controls and practices.
  • Better, more secure network management practices, including remodeling Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) to better support cloud use.
  • Fewer piecemeal network acquisitions and larger network deals with providers and the IT community.

The second section of the report pushes agencies to rely more heavily on shared services to cut down on future stovepipe systems prone to stagnation. It pushes agencies to use commercial cloud services and adopt email and collaboration tools in the cloud. The plan would accelerate the modernization and adoption of Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) for better threat management while agencies move to cloud environments and mobile devices.

While upper management is trying to encourage system owners to use shared services, there has been somewhat of a stand-off. This is where technology companies and their partners can come in and help agencies realize the types of solutions available for transitioning to shared services. Companies need to target according to what shared services effort they want to get involved with and target more centralized organizations for infrastructure and infrastructure security deals. Indicate how your solutions work efficiently in the cloud for a variety of customers.

Management challenges

Many agencies are still led by acting chief information officers, which is concerning given that they may be less likely to embrace large-scale modernization efforts across their IT enterprise and be more focused on just keeping the lights on.

Large-scale initiatives are taking a little longer if there’s an acting CIO in place. Companies should pivot toward departments with permanent leadership in place while keeping an eye on the appointment process.

There’s also a divide between CIOs and the line-level people who work on the systems at agencies. A recent report showed that CIOs felt many of their programs were being done in an agile method, whereas the actual IT workers felt most of their work was not following an agile methodology. This disconnect further suggests that while talking to CIOs is important, they’re often focused on matters of policy and not on development and implementation of modern government systems. It’s still important to talk to an agency CIO, particularly to get their buy-in, but you may want to start with program managers, branch chiefs and IT directors who have their hands more directly in the work.

Want to hear more about how these trends are impacting civilian IT sales? Catch our budget briefing at the Government Sales IT Summit on Nov. 16 in Reston, VA.

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