Most Federal agencies have undertaken IT modernization efforts intending to change the way IT shops are structured to deliver services to support the mission. Although the benefits of modernization are clear, Federal CIOs agree that agencies still struggle to make these changes.

One reason highlighted by Gerald Caron, the CIO for the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is technology hesitancy. According to Caron, some users are hesitant to adopt new systems because it may complicate their workflow.

“To overcome this, it’s important that we draft users into the modernization effort. By this, I mean understanding how users work and ensuring the technology we implement works for them and is effective and easy for users,” Caron said during ATARC’s GITEC Conference on May 3.

“IT is the enabler of our missions and in an IT modernization effort we have to make these tools work for us not the other way around,” he added.

Guy Cavallo, the CIO for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), agreed with Caron’s assessment and added that communication is a key foundational priority in IT modernization efforts. Additionally, Cavallo explained that proper IT modernization efforts also need the right positions and the right teams in place. At OPM this was step one, he said.

“We created different positions like the chief data architect and chief data officer positions to help transform our agency architecture and move away from legacy architecture,” Cavallo said.

Additionally, for George Duchak, CIO for the Director of Information Operations J6 at the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), data is a strategic asset in the IT modernization effort.

“At DLA we have made a big investment in data to be an agency that knows they made the right decision that makes data-based decisions,” Duchak said.

However, while data is a strategic asset, it remains scattered and siloed at DLA, which is of no help to users. Therefore, as part of its modernization effort, DLA is modernizing its data systems to ensure they can effectively utilize its data to make important decisions. As part of this effort, Duchak said the agency is adding data leaders to its team to lead this effort.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.