One of the most frequently heard complaints from federal government IT leaders is their inability to access next-generation technologies expeditiously. From cumbersome procurement procedures, to lengthy acquisition cycles, IT is often outdated before it is even deployed within an agency’s architecture.
Even with an acute awareness of these challenges within both Congress and the CIO cohort and mandates, like FITARA, attempting to drive change at an institutional level, getting to the future first is a difficult challenge for the federal government. But the next-generation of IT might not be that far out of reach according to CSRA’s Yogesh Khanna and 1776’s Evan Burfield.
During the introductory sessions at CSRA’s 4th Emerging Tech Day, where 8 innovative IT organizations were introduced to the audience of industry and government IT leaders, Khanna and Burfield honed in on some of the challenges faced by both sides of this innovation paradox. “One the one hand we know that government wants to innovate, but they’re hampered by being able to tap into these innovative organizations,” said Khanna. “On the other hand,” he continued, “startups and other smaller organizations have difficulty accessing contract vehicles and being able to scale to meet government demand.”
These sentiments were echoed by Burfield, who also shared one more obstacle to getting innovative tech into agencies in a timely manner – regulations. “Government sees being able to deploy a solution in 18 months as a win, but that timeframe for a startup whose timelines are measured in 90 day increments is a death knell,” said Burfield. “Right now government agencies are locked into an RFP process that shuts startups out; if federal CIOs can define the problem, get connected with these innovators, and then open a conversation with them, we’ll get the solutions agencies actually need to them quickly.”
Burfield commended CSRA on their leadership in the emerging technology space and in building bridges between startups that can address the key challenges facing federal agencies. “CSRA is becoming a platform for innovation in the government IT sector in a similar way that Apple, Facebook, and Google have become platforms for innovation in the private sector,” he concluded.