Most Federal government agencies have made progress in improving key measures of operational resilience since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March, but many still have plenty of room for improvement in key categories.

That’s the top-line finding of new research from MeriTalk, ACT-IAC, and the Partnership for Public Service. Their study looks at several key indicators of organizational resilience – including network security, information technology, human capital, and innovation – and draws results from a survey of 300 Federal IT executives and mission owners.

The survey results form a key input into the three organizations’ program focused on post-pandemic recovery, “Resilient: Government Pandemic Insights for a Safer America.” The program is synthesizing research findings with deliberations of several high-level roundtable groups to offer operating and policy recommendations to promote stronger and more resilient government operations to advance the recovery.  The program is expected to unveil its findings in January 2021.

The baseline agreement among the vast majority of people surveyed – 85 percent – is that the COVID-19 pandemic qualifies as a “watershed” event that points to the need for government to further modernize IT operations.

Taking into account the several key elements of resilience, 67 percent of Feds surveyed said their agencies had made some improvements in building resilience between April and August of this year. But showing how far Federal agencies still need to go, only 27 percent said they would give their agencies an “A” grade in resilience in the five months after the pandemic hit.

Looking at the data, less than half of those surveyed are satisfied with their agencies’ focus on key factors of resilience.

In the security category, only 44 percent were satisfied, and said the three biggest impediments to improvement were budget, reliance on legacy technologies, and expanding threat landscapes.

On the IT front, only 36 percent said they were satisfied, and 42 percent said that half of the IT they use for work needs to either be updated or replaced.

Regarding human capital, just 29 percent said they were satisfied, with an overwhelming 85 percent saying that their agencies face a workforce skills gap.

And with innovation, 26 percent said they were satisfied, with only one-third expressing “strong” agreement that their agency encourages them to come up with new and better ways to do things.

For the full report on the research findings, please download the Resilient Infographic.

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MeriTalk Staff