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United's Hot Mess: The Customer Experience Truth Government Must Now Face

By Stephanie Thum // April 14, 2017

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Stephanie Thum, CCXP, is the former vice president of customer experience at the Export-Import Bank of the United States. She is currently practice director, customer experience and analytics at Capitol Management Consulting Services. Follow her on Twitter: @stephaniethum

If ever there was a time for government agencies to think hard about hiring a chief customer officer, now this is that time. In fact, every complex organization, regardless of industry, should be thinking hard about it after the recent United Airlines fiasco.

By now, we've all seen the video and heard the story. Last weekend, United Airlines came under intense fire after video emerged of a passenger being violently dragged off a flight out of Chicago. According to CNN, "a passenger was dragged, bloodied and screaming, up the aisle and off a plane by authorities at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Sunday when he refused to give up his seat on a United flight to Louisville, Kentucky. The airline needed to free up seats to transport commuting crew members."

Then, also according to CNN, United's CEO "made matters worse by issuing a widely-ridiculed apology for 'having to re-accommodate ... customers.' He later doubled down in a letter to employees...

'If I Were the Federal CIO': Setting Technology Priorities in the Digital Age

By Christopher O'Malley // April 13, 2017

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Christopher O’Malley is CEO of Compuware Corp.

As a new business-minded administration takes office—and as Congress considers revamping the Modernizing Government Technology Act—federal agencies have a tremendous opportunity to get it right. Imagine a world where taxpayers’ 1040 form were pre-populated with data, where seniors could handle all their Social Security life events online, and where citizens never have to enter a government office.

It’s a result everyone wants. But there’s lots of disagreement about how to get there.

As a CEO who has spent decades helping large organizations and government agencies achieve their modernization objectives, I believe there’s much that can be learned from the experiences—and the mistakes—of the private sector.

I also believe the culture the new federal CIO brings to the IT landscape will have a major impact on how agencies and departments look at transformation. There is no silver bullet for modernization. So, I’m hoping the Office of Management and Budget and the federal CIO’s office won’t get sucked into hype and buzzwords that benefit technology vendors more than federal agencies and their constituents.

First, there must be a change in mindset. Federal agencies’ IT...

4 Reasons Agencies Should Care About the Citizen Experience

By Tony D’Emidio and David Malfara // April 10, 2017

Photon photo/Shutterstock.com

Tony D’Emidio is a partner in McKinsey’s Washington, D.C., office; and David Malfara is a specialist in the Miami office.

Savvy executives across business are coming to realize that no matter which products and services their companies offer, they are in the customer-experience business. Thanks to technology, consumers find it increasingly easy to buy what they need and want in any way they choose. Leading customer-friendly companies, such as Amazon and Apple, steadily raise expectations of superior service. Our research shows when companies systematically put the customer first, they create inroads against competitors, build cultures that benefit employees as well as customers, and improve the bottom line on both the revenue and cost sides.

The customer-experience phenomenon may seem far removed from the work of federal, state and local governments, but in reality, it offers important lessons. True, agencies rarely have a direct competitor from which they try to capture market share. Nor do disruptive start-ups typically emerge to steal their customers.

Yet, the rationale for agencies to improve the citizen experience may be just as powerful. Efforts to do so can provide public agencies with valuable opportunities to achieve their stated missions, meet or even exceed...

Security and Compliance in the World of Government

By Adam Clater // April 7, 2017

voyager624/Shutterstock.com

Adam Clater is chief architect of North America public sector at Red Hat

Innovation and compliance standards can make strange bedfellows in federal IT. Developers can often feel as if security checkpoints inhibit their efforts, while those in charge of compliance monitoring may quickly call out development that does not conform to security standards.

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We have seen this play out time and again, most recently with the General Services Administration’s Office of Inspector General report on 18F development, and we likely have not seen the last of these types of disagreements. It is incumbent upon industry and government to work together to solve these roadblocks to innovation and national security.

Setting a Secure Baseline for Government Computing

As part of its role in implementing the Federal Information Security Management Act, the National Institute of Standards and Technology takes an active, public interest in protecting the nation’s information technology assets. Part of that interest today takes form as NIST Special Publication 800-53.

NIST SP 800-53 controls are a collaborative effort of a joint task force including the departments of Defense and Homeland Security...

What 18F and Other Rule Breakers Teach Us About Insider Threats

By Dan Velez // April 5, 2017

Andrea Danti/Shutterstock.com

Dan Velez is director of insider threat operations at Forcepoint.

They were the IT equivalent of the “Pros from Dover”—a collection of highly skilled tech specialists who steered federal agencies into the fast lane of digital modernization. They were talented. They were empowered. And they were insider threats.

Operating within the General Services Administration, they were known as 18F, a “civic consultancy for government … built in the spirit of America’s top tech startups.” Among other accomplishments, 18F launched Cloud.gov; worked with the Federal Election Commission to make campaign finance data more accessible to the public; and created an open-source government “developer services marketplace.” The marketplace took advantage of private sector agile tech to accelerate the acquisition and deployment of the latest and greatest mission-supporting apps.

While so much went right with 18F, something went wrong: Its members broke a few rules along the way—rules intended to protect IT systems and data from threats and compromises. Indeed, the Office of Inspector General Office of Inspections and Forensic Auditing has concluded 18F “routinely disregarded and circumvented fundamental GSA information security policies and guidelines,” according to its Feb. 21 report titled “Evaluation of 18F’s Information Technology Security Compliance...

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