Bringing Government IT Modernization and Innovation to the Forefront

Department of Commerce and FDIC Leverage IT to Transform and Modernize Effectively

shutterstock_234708769 This month’s ModernGOV Summit, hosted by FCW and Software AG Government Solutions was an engaging and educational event that brought together IT and business leaders from the federal government to share best practices and discuss the many pressing issues agencies face today. Two of the several government presenters that day included Steven Cooper, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the U.S. Department of Commerce and Dr. Barry West, Chief Information Officer (CIO), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Their keynote presentations kicked off the morning and afternoon sessions targeted at sharing how IT can enable the types of transformation that will help agencies become more efficient in their mission delivery.

Steven Cooper’s presentation set the tone for the conference when he encouraged participants to ask questions throughout his presentation as opposed to waiting for the Q&A at the end. In upending the traditional conference format, he put into action a key conference message of partnership and collaboration. In his talk titled, “Modernizing Agency Operations with Business Strategy and Technology,” Mr. Cooper discussed the ground-breaking transformations that he and his teams were able to implement at the Department of Homeland Security after September 11th and with the American Red Cross in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. By using his past innovation as an example, Cooper identified himself as an agent of change but also demonstrated the pivotal change that can be accomplished when one embraces transformation and collaboration.

In both case examples, Mr. Cooper transformed the ways in which people use and share critical data during a crisis situation. Within the Red Cross, Cooper facilitated an overhaul of a more than century’s old process by transforming the service delivery model for the Red Cross, utilizing call agents and call centers as opposed to individual case managers. This change in turn, enabled the Red Cross to process over 2.2 million requests for aid.

In a rousing call for modernization and agility, Dr. Barry West delivered a presentation titled “Aligning IT Modernization to Agency Missions: An Executive Perspective.” And so, where Mr. Cooper focused on transformation, Dr. West pinpointed, among other aspects, the keys to IT modernization.

A critical component of the six keys to modernization Dr. West highlighted is the ability to “progress quickly and (with) more agility to move at the pace of business.” FDIC embodies this agility and pacing in their Responsive Design program and the ensuing case study. In the spirit of interactivity and collaboration, Dr. West asked everyone in attendance to pull out their smart phones and pull up FDIC’s website. In doing so, he was able to showcase that the mobile site is just as responsive as the desktop site.

Through implementing a Responsive Design, FDIC followed the technology in order to move more quickly and in line with the pace of business. Dr. West and his team reduced the average file size and lines of code for the site by 45%. These changes in file size and code enabled the site to decrease the average download time by 27% and lowered the overall cost while simultaneously improving the user’s mobile experience.

A common theme for both Cooper and West was the need for simplicity in scope. In his Responsive Design case study, Dr. West shared that smaller file size and shorter code lends to simpler pages which are, of course, faster but also more cost conscience to maintain. In congruence, Cooper stressed building commonality and utilizing “operational pilots not prototypes.” Ultimately, Cooper also cited simplicity and said, “Scale it and scope it small- don’t try to boil the ocean.”

Having set the tone for the day, Mr. Cooper’s call for interactive discussion was echoed by presenters and in attendees’ conversations throughout the day. Where he began by upending traditional presentation format, Cooper ended his talk unconventionally as well with an intriguing call to action. He implored the audience, “You’ve got ideas, tell us, come talk to us,” demonstrating that he is a true collaborator and sees the value in collaborative thinking as a means to embrace transformation and modernization for greater agency mission fulfillment.

To learn more about how agency mission can be achieved efficiently and effectively, click here.



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