GTSC 2023 FITGov Summit: Governing Advanced Technology Before It Ruled Us

Can we govern advanced technologies before they govern us?

Members of the Government Technology and Services Coalition, which acquired the FITGov Summit in 2022, and public and private sector guests at this year’s summit resoundingly answered the question: we can use and govern cutting-edge technologies. before they rule us. We can take advantage of it. We can control the risk. But only if we do it together.

The mission of the refocused FITGov Summit is precisely that: to provide government with the resources and information to govern cutting-edge technology before it rules us. At the 15th annual summit, leaders from across government and industry discussed topics such as the implications of artificial intelligence on federal IT, the future of procurement, the role centers of excellence, etc.

These conversations certainly come at the right time. With the release of ChatGPT in November 2022 and countless apps since, the federal government and contracting communities are experimenting with its capabilities to see how it can save time, save money, and improve products and services. The widespread access of individuals to this powerful tool, with few policies or procedures to guide early use, heightens the issue of technology governance. And the signs are everywhere.

In its 2023 report on government trends, Deloitte highlighted the paradigm shifts that are currently reshaping government. Accelerated technologies “rebuild the links between people, systems and different government agencies”. The convergence of the physical and digital domains allows the government to anticipate problems and obtain reliable information about the future. Artificial intelligence is at the center of these and other paradigm shifts, or disruptions as Deloitte calls them.

The government is moving quickly to address these changes. The Biden administration launched new AI R&D initiatives on May 23 to inform a national AI strategy, as well as a report focused on AI in education. The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently released its AI Risk Management Framework 1.0 and followed up with the launch of a Trusted and Accountable AI Resource Center.

FITGov Summit 2023 keynote speaker, Department of Energy Chief Information Officer Ann Dunkin, provided the focus for the day by highlighting how IT innovation and modernization is about organizational culture. “IT modernization is 99% about changing culture,” she said. “Technology is the easy part.”

Dunkin described his experience of culture change through communication and collaboration. Learning. Inclusion. Serve the customer. And take informed risks together.

Panels developed these ideas throughout the day:

Think about who is at the table. We cannot supply only through the Supply Shop. We cannot do this only through the IT store. Cross-functional collaboration and collaboration between leaders were also highlighted. Risks are part of every purchase. Every contract. Discuss it. Discuss ways to manage them, early on, within government and between government and contractors. Avoiding the risks is often the quickest way to an undesirable outcome. Shift acquisition planning to the left and start conversations earlier. What are we trying to accomplish? Get the program and other experts to talk to each other early. Address security issues early in the process with these subject matter experts at the table. Culture change is top-down and bottom-up. From above, the strategy becomes the “authorization structure” for people to implement change. From the bottom, people need to be safe to test and talk about what they’re trying. Be supported in determining what works and what doesn’t, to continue to drive customer service forward. The government must use AI – including generative AI – to improve services to citizens and to catch up and surpass the bad actors who are already using it. Governance can define the safeguards for safe and appropriate use without slowing down innovation. Use Centers of Excellence to bring together experts, to help people figure out what to do and how to fix things that aren’t right. Don’t make centers of excellence bureaucratic and regulatory.

Soraya Correa, a former Department of Homeland Security procurement officer and FITGov board member, summed it up this way: “It’s all about the conversation. Relationships matter. Teamwork matters. And GTSC CEO Kristina Tanasichuk emphasized, “We’ve been saying this for years and it’s true now more than ever.”

Each panel detailed ways to promote innovation, communication and collaboration within government and between government and the business community. While subsequent articles here at HSToday taking readers in depth from the FITGov Summit will highlight these points, the main message was clear: hard problems are more complex than ever. Innovative solutions are more difficult than ever.

If the people who work there are not on the same page, advanced and emerging technologies can rule them. If they are on the same page, they will deploy these technologies together in service of their mission, for the American people.

Stay tuned for more coverage of the FITGov Summit 2023 here at HSToday

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