Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Energy released a report containing recommendations for a joint cybersecurity effort throughout the federal government and private sector partners. The report listed weaknesses in the agencies cybersecurity plan, stating resources and talent as the fifth gap in capabilities. Public-private partnerships (PPP) can provide technology and talent that may not otherwise be available to agencies. While PPPs offer an array of benefits ranging from IT solutions to construction, the traditional PPP partnership may be reaching its expiration date. In a typical PPP situation, a government agency and private party exchange goods and services for a set amount of time, sometimes upwards of 30 years. With technology transforming at a rapid rate, is it time to amend the PPPS structure?
“The big challenge for the federal government is acquiring new technology. It comes out far too rapidly and incrementally than what they are used to buying,” said Ronald Nielson, Founder and Owner of SharkOptics LLC.
There is no doubt that partnerships are needed for the government to secure their technology. With cyber threats flowing from Russia, China, and North Korea, civil and civic infrastructures are at risk. Cylance’s federal advisory board suggest that the government begin to look at other venues for their needs like startup companies, academia, and veterans. Finding new methods of acquisition could allow the government to spend more wisely while staying current with emerging tech and be able to access up to date solutions that combat today’s threats.
“Partnerships are critical. We just simply can’t, in the government, keep up with the skill set required to maintain and bring in new technology and ideas. We can partner with companies to bring in these new skillsets and new ideas,” said Lisa Schlosser, Cyber Security Advisor to Harrisburg University.
Forgoing the long-term contracts and committing to short-term partnerships with fast-paced colleges, universities, and startups gives the government direct access to innovative solutions as they are created. Lt. General William J. Bender, . Lt. General William J. Bender, former Chief Information Officer for the United States Air Force and now Strategic Account Executive for Government at Leidos, suggests the government transform itself by lowering the “barriers of innovation.”
“Reimagining public-private partnerships in a way that broadens the talent pool can bring the right people to solve problems, regardless of if they are in or out of government,” explained Bender.