Building Resiliency into the Future of the Federal Government

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Creating a digital workplace that enables government users to work virtually from anywhere with the productivity, personalization and security they need is vital to digital resiliency.

This spring, the Office of Personnel Management released the governmentwide results of the 2020 OPM Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, or FEVS, an organizational climate survey administered to the federal workforce to provide agencies a snapshot of how their employees view their current work environment and help inform future agency actions. 

The 2020 OPM FEVS results—which showed that employee engagement rose by nearly 4% in 2020—signals the resilience of the federal workforce since the mass telework guidance began during the COVID-19 pandemic. As OPM continues to develop telework and hybrid work guidance and agencies finalize return to site plans, federal IT leaders can take steps now to shore up the resiliency of their organizations and teams.

In the age of mass telework, the federal workforce evolved to accomplish its mission from anywhere. As agencies continue to adapt to the dynamic landscape of the federal workforce—from in-person, hybrid or remote situations—prioritizing a culture of resilience and ensuring employees have the tools to succeed is paramount to be prepared for the challenges of the future.

Enhance the Digital Workplace

Creating a digital workplace that enables government users to work virtually from anywhere with the productivity, personalization and security they need is vital to digital resiliency. User experience and productivity must remain top of mind as employees expect faster, more secure, easier-to-use devices, collaboration, and access to the tools they need to get their jobs done. 

IT teams at agencies are managing more dispersed employees, systems and applications than ever before, and the need for modern devices and a flexible and responsive IT environment is paramount. Agencies need to invest in tools and resources that help employees remain productive and supported from anywhere. And they must be ready to pivot. 

CIOs should also establish a flexible culture that improves the connected workplace—whether employees are teleworking or on-site—as the digital workplace will constantly change. Adopting a 21st-century workplace culture will fulfill the needs of federal employees on the job and in life in a highly mobile, collaborative and flexible work setting. Combined with the right technology infrastructure and devices, this will unleash new innovation for the government mission.

Embrace Hybrid Cloud Flexibility 

The emergence of hybrid cloud flexibility offers agencies more choice, flexibility and predictability in their technology consumption. IT leaders who embrace this model will see a consistent experience across public and private clouds and the edge with infrastructure optimization—which enables agencies to scale up or down as capacity needs change.

This flexibility is especially helpful to meet the challenge of unexpected events like new technology, growth or new work environments. Hybrid cloud flexibility also allows agencies to consume technology in a way that’s simple, aligned to the needs of each specific organization and job function, and consistent across all clouds and edges.

Innovate and Train with Data

Agencies that can rapidly turn raw data into insights and create better customer experiences are better able to adapt in uncertain times. Organizations need to accommodate the exponential data growth in hyper-distributed locations by laying the right technological foundation. 

But first, the government workforce needs to be trained for the challenges of today, through reskilling programs like the Federal Cyber Reskilling Academy. These types of reskilling and upskilling opportunities ensure employees can adapt to the rapidly fluctuating enterprise technology stack—including platforms fueled by artificial intelligence and machine learning—to more easily innovate with data.

With these more skilled and technical workers, agencies can fill critical skill gaps faster than through the traditional hiring and onboarding process. Reskilling programs will ensure a constant flow of trained and readily available talent to meet the needs of any agency’s mission goals.

Achieve Cyber Resiliency 

Achieving cyber resiliency with intrinsic security will enable and accelerate innovation across the federal workforce. An enhanced level of cyber resilience requires security transformation, because there is no digital transformation without a strong, secure foundation to build upon.

To successfully fend off increasingly sophisticated attacks, agencies need security that’s built in, not bolted on. As data becomes more dispersed, the potential attack surface of government organizations also increases. Most traditional security approaches with multi-point solutions bolted on for each security challenge are simply too complex to scale to massively distributed architectures. 

The zero-trust approach, which continues to gain traction among government IT decision makers, will add an additional layer of security, whether employees are in the office or teleworking. Follow NIST’s zero-trust principles to secure the distributed government workforce and ensure continuous, dynamic authentication and authorization.

Moving into the Future

As the federal workforce continues to adapt and evolve as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on resiliency and improving IT functions will enhance preparedness efforts and ensure agencies can continue to operate regardless of the environment.

By taking these steps, government IT and security leaders will succeed in bolstering the digital workplace, increasing agility with hybrid cloud flexibility, creating new value by innovating with data, and achieving cyber resilience with intrinsic security.

Cameron Chehreh is the chief technology officer and vice president of engineering for Dell Technologies Federal Systems.

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