I had the honor of holding a fireside chat recently at FedScoop’s IT Modernization Summit with Rory Kinney, acting principal director for the Department of Defense (DoD) Deputy Chief Information Officer Information Enterprise (DCIO-IE). The discussion addressed hot-button issues that many agencies are facing, including key challenges around digital transformation, how to drive change across the Department, and ways government and private industry can work together to achieve better mission outcomes.

“IT needs to move at the speed of operations,” observed Kinney, on DoD’s requirements. And one of the key technological advancements changing the speed at which agencies operate is mobility. To Kinney, mobility is more than just devices — it’s a state of mind. From giving workers access to data in the field to getting work done more efficiently in the office, mobile needs to be secure and it needs to be seen as an enabler for personnel.

Kinney also addressed issues like the changing workforce and growing talent gap. He particularly emphasized the importance of continued education throughout workers’ careers. “Creating those lifelong learners is the only way we can keep up with it,” said Kinney. Another approach he has found effective is reverse mentorship, in which older executives are matched with and mentored by younger employees on topics like technology and social media. Kinney feels that the workforce has as much to learn from incoming generations as the other way around.

The idea that new technology is useless unless it can be effectively deployed when and where it is needed was also raised. Kinney addressed questions about the acquisition process and how government can adopt a more agile framework that gets people and solutions into place faster. He shared that, on the government side, it’s all about bringing in the best solutions at the best price — agencies need to identify who’s doing the most innovative work and bring them to the front door. While Kinney acknowledged that competition is good, he remarked that we need to look at how to remove the hurdles adding overhead costs — something the administration is currently working to address.

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