Federal government isn't ready for 2023's disruptive tech trends, report says

Of next year's disruptive tech trends, the federal government is best positioned to capitalize on managing multi-cloud environments, the 2023 Government Tech Trends forecast noted Friday.

Of next year's disruptive tech trends, the federal government is best positioned to capitalize on managing multi-cloud environments, the 2023 Government Tech Trends forecast noted Friday. jullasart somdok/GETTY IMAGES

The federal government can gain tremendous benefits from implementing emerging technologies across the board – but a Deloitte report notes that agencies still have a long way to go to adoption.

The federal government remains largely unprepared to adopt disruptive and emerging technologies to support digital transformations, according to a new report. 

The government could stand to significantly benefit from implementing new digital trends over the next 18 to 24 months, according to Deloitte’s annual Government Technology trends report published this week. 

But it continues to lag in its adoption and readiness around implementing tools like properly managed artificial intelligence to support automation, virtual and augmented reality resources to virtually engage with remote constituents and blockchain to automate transactions and further back national innovation. 

The professional services consultancy ranked the government's readiness to take on new technology trends and gave it generally low marks across a range of focuses, including replacing legacy assets and expanding immersive virtual experiences for customers and employees. 

On a scale of one to five, with five being the highest, the government scored a "three" or below on all seven categories of emerging trends Deloitte explored for its latest report. The government has ranked a "three" or below across all key trends the report has assessed since 2020.  

According to the report, the government scored best for readiness in taming multi-cloud environments and reimagining the tech workforce, earning three out of five in each category. 

The report noted that as the federal government continues its migration to the cloud, commercial-off-the-shelf tools can help automate many functions, such as security, to help make a multi-cloud environment more manageable for IT staff. 

As for the tech workforce, Deloitte posits that the government is positioned to establish pipelines to recruit “non-traditional talent” and help fill gaps, especially for a federal IT workforce that is aging faster than its recruiting new talent. 

Contractor trade group the Professional Services Council noted in its 2022 Vision Federal Market Forecast this week that 16.4% of the federal IT workforce was over the age of 60, up 2.6% from the previous year.   

The government scored lowest in the Deloitte report for its readiness to adopt trends like virtual and augmented reality tools, embrace blockchain technology, deploy AI systems and modernize its legacy mainframes.

Despite its apparent unpreparedness, the government can use many of the latest disruptive tech trends to become a more enticing place to work for the next generation of top talent, as well as streamline its operations to become more cost-effective and efficient. 

The report recommends implementing skills-based programs, retraining and other measures for government to "create a path to attract diverse, skilled, diligent workers" and to "take advantage of the changes to also create an employee experience and culture that rewards individuals for their ability to adapt to change in order to support your organization today and in the future." 

The report follows recent studies from within the federal government which also point to the potential benefits -- and key challenges -- associated with the implementation of emerging tech trends. 

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published earlier this year said blockchain technology could be used "to organize supply chains, create less hierarchical organizations, and document title registries for real estate" as some examples of its benefits. But the report also notes that "most such efforts are not yet beyond the pilot stage and face challenges."