Public sector IT is perhaps one of the most misunderstood sectors today. It has a reputation as one that relies on legacy systems. However, what many fail to see is the overwhelming pressure faced by public sector IT to constantly ship and run updates, all while being dragged in a thousand directions on a tight budget.
As the years go by, the current practice of maintaining legacy systems becomes more and more expensive and the potential security risks increase. It is clear that the current system is no longer sustainable. It’s time for government CIOs to prioritize deploying automated DevOps systems that scale the delivery of more secure and efficient apps.
Adopting new technologies helps teams facilitate innovation, improve security and work faster, but they require large investments in time and money. CIOs must undergo a massive cultural shift, which encourages experimentation and failure, to ultimately be rewarded with reduced operating costs and security risks as agency work, collaboration and service delivery are digitized.
[ Learn how leaders are embracing enterprise-wide IT automation: Taking the lead on IT Automation. ]
Let’s look at some examples of how automation can benefit CIOs and federal IT teams.
1. Enable humans to innovate
Much has been said about the role automation plays in innovation. For years, many industry observers have speculated that the rise of automation will completely eliminate the need for human involvement and threaten jobs.
Rather, today’s approach is to view automation as a supplement to human employees, a tool that can perform more administrative or tedious tasks on a large scale so that developers and security experts can focus on requests that require more nuance or detail. .
Hyper-automation is a key tool when encouraging innovation in federal spaces. Automated tools simplify and consolidate complex toolchains, enable consistent compliance verification, and eliminate manual processes prone to human error. This creates consistent verification processes, provides a consistent baseline, and allows agencies to deliver products faster, all while allowing teams to experiment and repeat existing products.
2. Build security in the process
Automation is also critical to ensuring that security is a key element of the software development lifecycle. It is no longer enough that safety is the last consideration in the process.
[ Read also: How to explain DevSecOps in plain English ]
Automated tools can establish code quality and security thresholds to ensure that vulnerable code is captured before production. It also moves testing and security functions into the core development workflow, saving rework and downstream impact compared to traditional development workflows.
Security automation allows teams to detect large-scale problems, set a baseline, and identify anomalies. This allows human security teams to proactively identify more complex and nuanced vulnerabilities and address them before a security incident or data leak.
Security automation allows teams to detect large-scale problems, set a baseline, and identify anomalies.
3. Cultivate a culture of innovation
Adopting automated tools and platforms can be a challenging process made even more difficult by the cultural changes required internally. This starts with the CIO and other leaders who will need the time and resources to foster experimentation and allow employees to take responsibility for the process.
This change will require a review of the way organizational workflows are structured. Leaders should check existing workflows and eliminate any silos or bottlenecks. This will reduce inefficiencies and allow teams to ship high quality products faster.
The future of the government CIO
Modernizing any existing infrastructure requires a lot of resources, whether in a government agency or in a private company. Often these resources face obstacles such as limited budgets or a lack of leadership adherence. An organization’s culture can make or break the way a new tool or system is integrated into the current environment.
Some agencies have responded to continued pressure to modernize systems by turning to the private sector for proven solutions and talent: in 2021, a former Microsoft executive was confirmed as CIO for the Department of Veterans Affairs. This represents a game changer in the public sector approach to innovation: Agencies that do not retire legacy technology will continue to see delays and vulnerabilities, while those that prioritize automation will receive the fruits of innovation and increased speed towards the mission.
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