GSA Is Giving a Bird's Eye View of Emerging Government Tech

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The initiative aims to cut through the “bureaucracy” that blinds federal techies to other agencies’ projects.

Keeping up with emerging technology in government can make you feel like the lame kid in high school: When there’s a party, you don’t usually hear about it.

A new initiative at the General Services Administration aims to loop any interested feds in on the latest efforts to roll out artificial intelligence, blockchain and other emerging technologies across government.

Last week, GSA announced plans for EmergingTech Check, a monthly report on current and new emerging tech programs, pilots and resources across the government. The report will include updates for ongoing programs, detail the challenges teams are facing and highlight the evolving needs of each project, according to Justin Herman, who heads the Emerging Citizen Technology Office at GSA.

Information is "scattered across a bureaucracy that’s hard to navigate,” Herman said Wednesday at GSA’s monthly emerging tech meeting. “Nobody knows the full breadth of what’s going on. Things are happening quickly, there’s no real centralization, and there’s not a lot of reporting structures that really move at the speed … we need.”

Agencies can voluntarily submit projects for the report using a Qualtrics survey, which includes questions about various stages of project development and resources needed to move forward. The final report will be published online every month, allowing federal technologists, state and local governments, and private-sector experts to keep up with the latest projects.

The initiative represents the latest effort by GSA to bring more groups to the table to advance technology in government, and throughout the meeting, Herman repeatedly called for agencies to increasingly come together to share successes and difficulties in rolling out new products.

“So many times in emerging tech, it’s easy to feel like it’s somebody else’s game,” he said. “Everyone … is a stakeholder in this program and these technologies.”