While the sudden transition to mass telework may have created some initial hurdles for Federal agencies, Federal CIO Suzette Kent said that the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) IT modernization initiatives remain in full swing.

“We’re still following the principles of the PMA because they were created with the vision of our ability to be ready for anything and face any challenge and continue service to citizens,” Kent said April 19 on Government Matters.

Kent credited IT modernization as “the reason that we’re able to respond quickly to this unique challenge.” Cloud solutions, scalable commercial platforms, collaboration tools, and data sharing have all aided continuity of operations at the Federal level, she said.

“Modernization efforts that we’re undertaking and what we’re doing with data prepares us to take action in any kind of situation that’s why these are the right investments, and this is a proof point,” Kent asserted.

The future of work has guided investments in IT modernization in the past, Kent explained, and now Federal agencies are having to prove that they can operate at scale in a maximum telework situation while continuing operations.

“When agencies plan for telework, in a traditional environment there was a finite set of individuals and activities that were eligible for telework. In this situation, that changed,” Kent said.

She continued, while many agencies were somewhat prepared for this situation, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has presented a challenge of a much higher and longer sustained telework environment while adjusting to a faster pace of decision-making. Instead of days or months, she said, the pace for decision-making is now minutes or hours.

Kent admitted that citizen-facing services “have much more room for modernization investments.” She said that internal investments in modernization and data have paid off, but more can be done to improve how the Federal government delivers digital services.

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