By Federal Chief Information Officer Clare Martorana

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we experience daily life, increasing our reliance on technology and propelling the Federal enterprise to adopt new tools and technology to better serve our citizens. The pandemic forced us to shine a light on the way we operate across Government and ask how we can serve our citizens faster, more securely, and equitably. We tested and deployed commercial technology solutions, pushed them into production, evaluated and adjusted, as necessary.

I’m proud to report we rose to the occasion in many ways. Federal agencies partnered, shared lessons learned, and bureaucracy busted across silos to innovate rapidly, test new solutions, and accomplish things in days or weeks versus months or even years. While we’ve certainly experienced challenges, we’ve also been given a great opportunity – to work differently.

It’s an exciting time in Federal IT. Here are three ways we’re improving service delivery for our citizens through secure technology:

Operating as an Enterprise to Deliver for the American People, Together. When our citizens need something from the Federal Government, they don’t think about an agency’s name or organizational chart; instead, they focus on the service, benefit, or information they need – and try their best to get it. Government services should be as easy to use as the consumer products and services our citizens use in their daily lives. In many cases though, the public must figure out how to navigate across department and agency silos, use paper-based processes, and deal with multiple call centers before getting to an answer. We must do better.  

As Federal CIO, I’m empowering Chief Information Officers across Government to place our customers – our citizens – at the center of everything we do. This means we must understand what our customers need so we can adjust our delivery methods to improve our service. It also requires us to organize around users and services instead of information systems – and to partner with technologists across Government when we need help. We can deliver digital products that delight our customers. With each new product we launch, our Federal workforce can do less manual work and focus on the reason they came to Government: to serve the American public.

Deploying secure, modern, scalable enterprise technology will help us create momentum for our citizens and the projects announced today through the Technology Modernization Fund put us on the right path. With this round of TMF awards, we are securing data and privacy protections for over 100 million students and borrowers, advancing digital collaboration and data sharing across the Federal enterprise, improving the authentication experience for millions of users with secure and equitable access to Government services, and bolstering the security of critical shared services that support the Federal Government – and this is just the beginning.  

Enhancing Cybersecurity Across the Federal Enterprise. Working with our Federal cybersecurity partners across Government, we are focused on helping agencies implement and adopt strategies to safeguard our nation’s digital assets. Our Zero Trust strategy will ensure every agency is adopting cybersecurity principles that consider every person, device, and network inside of an organization as untrusted and even potentially compromised. This strategy will make it harder for even sophisticated actors to compromise an organization. Moving to a zero trust architecture will be a multi-year journey for agencies, and we will learn and adjust as new technologies and practices emerge. Along with the President’s Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity, we are improving information-sharing between the U.S. Government and the private sector, and strengthening our ability to respond to incidents when they occur.

We’re At An Exciting Time in Federal IT – and We Need You!

In the wake of COVID-19’s tremendous impact on our country, it is clear we have to look at how our Government accomplishes its critical mission to serve the American people. The Biden Administration believes a diverse IT workforce is essential – this means we need everyday people to say yes to being part of something bigger. To deliver great products and services, we need teams that look like America – from all over America – to represent our citizens, so we are not introducing bias into the services we deliver.

We need tech experts at all stages of their career path to join us on this journey. Whether you’re an early career or senior technologist, you can make an impact for millions of our citizens. When you say yes to serving the American people, you directly improve the way services are delivered to your friends, family, and neighbors.

We have a mandate. We have the support. All we need is you. We the people means us – you and me. I hope you will consider saying yes.

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