As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and many agencies maintain telework status, outgoing Federal CIO Suzette Kent called the current moment a “marker of a new era” in IT modernization and digital capabilities.

“[It’s] a new era where digital capabilities are no longer the ‘nice to have’ thing for a snow day or a supplement to brick and mortar,” she explained at the July 1 IBM Think Gov virtual conference. “Digital capabilities are mandatory for mission continuity and to protect the health of our nation and the growth of our economy.”

Government services have become a “digital mandatory environment,” Kent said while specifically highlighting digital capabilities, the strategic use of data, and constant connectivity as the “life veins” of the future. Before the pandemic, many government services had both an in-person and digital channel to connect, but as the pandemic forced more citizens to use the digital capabilities, they’ve experienced faster and more accurate services, she said.

While Federal agencies have realized the benefits of these rapid modernization steps, Kent urged leaders not to forget about modernizing their core legacy applications.

“As we enter this new era, we also cannot forget about transforming the core,” she asserted. “What I mean by that is we still have many legacy applications that are at the core of agency business and operational processes and those require modernization in order to fully capture the promise that automation, data, and scalable platforms can bring.”

Kent recommended tactics such as crossing government organizational boundaries to push for further modernization.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.