Critical Update: GSA's Centers of Excellence Program Evolves


The Centers of Excellence program started out working with agencies one at a time. But in less than three years, the program has sped up, staffed up and spread out across government.

At less than three years old, the Centers of Excellence program has seen a lot of change in its short lifetime.

Started in late 2017 to help agencies with enterprisewide IT efforts, the program—based out of the General Services Administration—has acted as a modernization consultancy, working with customer agencies to identify needs and match them with vendors to facilitate those modernization efforts.

The program also has the backing of presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and the White House’s Office of American Innovation, which originally envisioned the program and continues to have a hand in its process.

Initially, the program worked with one agency per phase, engaged with each of five centers. Today, that framework has been turned upside down, as agencies work with one or two centers on specific projects over much shorter engagements.

“It was a lot of very quick collaboration back and forth, across all five centers, and plugging in where we could, plugging where we had bandwidth, and making sure that we had one shared vision. Despite the fact that we have five centers, IT modernization has one vision, and that's what we were looking to do,” Eric Ewing, one of the leads in the Artificial Intelligence Center, said of the original approach. “Now that we're landing smaller, it might be one or two centers … We have maybe one partner that we're engaged with every day, at the daily level, outside of executives. That engagement, we're being just as deliberate about that constant collaboration, but it's more inherent just because there's less happening outside. We can focus on what that looks like a little bit more, and that's really, that's ultimately the biggest difference.”

This episode of Critical Update delves into the inner workings of the program to explore how it has changed, including what has been working and what hasn’t.

Listen to the full episode below or download and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple Podcasts and Google Play.