At ServiceNow's annual Federal Forum in March 2022, more than 1,400 government leaders and contractors convened for the first time since the start of the pandemic. We recently surpassed the two-year mark of a rapid shift to remote work, and federal leaders reflected on the widespread modernization that took place during this period.
Although the number of federal employees returning to offices continues to rise, according to Axios, the world of work has changed dramatically. As it continues to take shape, speakers underscored the importance of federal employees using agile, efficient, and effective workflows.
Let’s explore four key topics from the event that are shaping the future of federal government work.
1. Hyperautomation and zero-trust architecture
The pandemic illuminated outdated and inefficient workflows across the federal government, which initially hindered employees from working productively at home. In the Digital Transformation in the Modern Workplace and Embracing Zero Trust for a Resilient Federal Government sessions, federal leaders explained how a shift to remote work and policies, such as President Biden’s Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity spurred their agencies to:
Modernize legacy applications.
Embrace automated solutions.
Deploy zero-trust cybersecurity strategies that allow employees to securely work from anywhere.
The US Department of State operates embassies in more than 190 countries, in addition to 29 domestic offices. Ken Rogers, chief digital strategist at the department, acknowledged some agencies and bureaus within the organization were further along in their modernization journey than others at the start of the pandemic. His team helped integrate tools across the State Department for all employees to use to enhance productivity and achieve their unique mission goals.
“It’s been a continuous process of technology iterating far faster than an organization can adapt, so you really have to think through where does the value of the technology meet the business of the organization,” he said. “[This ensures that] I’m introducing the right things to the organization and not stressing the organization out because change is such a challenge for everyone.”
Rogers explained that by consolidating the State Department’s contracts and migrating to the Now Platform®, his team achieved greater continuity and, ultimately, enhanced employee experiences and workflows.
2. Attracting Gen Z talent
IT mandates continue to serve as forcing functions of digital transformation across the federal government. In the Lunch and Congressional Commitment to IT Modernization panel, Nichole Francis Reynolds, vice president and head of global government relations at ServiceNow, spoke with members of Congress about the modernization efforts agencies must make in 2022 to help attract and retain federal talent.
Less than 7% of the federal workforce is under the age of 30, according to the Partnership for Public Service. More than 29% is above the age of 55, meaning hundreds of thousands of jobs will soon become vacant due to expected retirements.
Rep. Gerry Connolly illustrated the importance of enacting policies that provide lower barriers to entry for younger talent, including internship opportunities, hybrid work models, and streamlined hiring processes.
3. DEIA initiatives and equal opportunities
In addition to the pieces of legislation Rep. Connolly outlined, the Biden Administration’s Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility provides a blueprint for agencies to modernize their recruitment efforts. ServiceNow Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer Karen Pavlin led a panel on the ways agencies can advocate for—and empower—diverse individuals in the federal workforce.
“We recognize we have to stay competitive, not just as a federal agency, but also as an employer of choice across all sectors,” said Traci DiMartini, chief human capital officer at the US General Services Administration (GSA). “The only way we’re going to do that is by embracing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.”
DiMartini and her team established GSA’s equity team. It’s a group of cross-functional leaders who are committed to identifying and understanding the barriers that policies and programs present to supporting underserved communities.
Establishing decision-making teams with varied perspectives and using tools such as data analytics in the recruitment process can help. Moves like these can ensure all current and prospective federal employees have equal opportunities to advance in their careers within the federal government—our nation’s largest employer.
4. Accelerating service delivery
At the height of the pandemic, Americans relied heavily on government services, from small business owners obtaining relief funds to citizens collecting stimulus funds and information about COVID-19.
I had the privilege of moderating the last panel session of the day, Accelerating Service Delivery, where federal and IT leaders explored the implications of the President’s Management Agenda and the Customer Experience Executive Order. We discussed how agencies can carry forth the administration’s vision by using automation, analytics, and enterprise software delivery with low-code development.
Barbara Morton, deputy chief veterans experience officer at the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), stressed the importance of operationalizing moments that matter most for customers. Her team conducted in-depth interviews with veterans to understand the quality of care they received when visiting medical facilities.
These insights informed new programs, such as the Red Coat Ambassador Program, and technology, including a redesign of VA.gov, which Morton’s team deployed to improve veteran satisfaction levels by nearly 20%.
The VA recently appointed its first chief design strategist and team of customer experience strategists and design specialists. Morton said this allows the organization to navigate the culture of government while prioritizing the needs of veterans.
The next year will undoubtedly present many opportunities for federal agencies to accelerate their digital transformation and shape the future of work. Our team continues to serve as a trusted partner to the federal government in helping them achieve these mission goals.
At the Federal Forum, we shared our Impact Level 5 provisional authorization. It will enable the US Department of Defense, its mission partners, and select federal agencies to further modernize by moving highly sensitive data, including controlled unclassified information and unclassified national security systems, to ServiceNow cloud-based solutions hosted on Microsoft Azure Government.
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