As PR professionals in DC, it’s our job to monitor the federal marketplace for trends that inform our clients’ communications and marketing strategies. One theme we’ve heard a lot about lately is that in this era of flat or declining government budgets, it’s become almost cliché to talk of agencies “doing more with less.” How do government entities continue to serve their constituents with less personnel or resources? Should government prioritize the hiring of talent, or the acquisition of IT capital to better perform its duties? And how should companies that sell to government adjust their strategies based on this reality?
These topics were discussed in depth recently at Tech In Motion’s panel, “The Intersection of Technology and Government”. Moderated by FedScoop reporter Colby Hochmuth and featuring CEO Goldy Kamali, the panel convened stakeholders from both the public and private sector and facilitated a discussion on how to make government work better by acquiring both smart, tech-savvy individuals and making the right investments in technology. Of note, there were a few areas where the panel thought that smart investments and decisions can make all the difference in allowing government agencies to operate more effectively, even with smaller budgets:
President Obama’s executive order declaring that information stored by the federal government should be open to the public has already benefitted the operational capacity of federal government agencies, according to GovTribe CEO Nate Nash, who sat on the panel. The question now is how government can leverage this data to work better and more efficiently. We’re already seeing what open data can do on a smaller local level, like the example of New York City letting its residents know which streets have been plowed after a snowstorm. Now, we are seeing this potential up-leveled to the federal government, with use cases like the NIH sharing data on Alzheimer’s research with other HHS entities and drug companies to generate treatments for the degenerative illness. While still in the early stages, these stakeholders are already seeing progress in the fight against Alzheimer’s with access to the government’s data, and NIH is empowered to achieve greater results with the research it already has at no additional cost. Leveraging the power of open data and information sharing, both within government agencies and with the private sector, will be crucial to operating more efficiently and creating better results.
Jessica Milcetich, the social media strategist at GSA who sat on the panel, said that government IT strategies should reflect the incredible advancements in mobile computing made over the past few year. A practical application of this strategy could include government agencies that have inspection services (EPA or USDA, for example) that used an app to guide a site inspection and upload reports in real time. In this scenario, the mobile technology would allow the agency to reduce redundancies, like the need to enter data with pen and paper during an inspection then on a computer later on. Mobile devices could also facilitate greater communication between inspectors and their offices, allowing real time transfer and analysis of data. Creating a situation where an inspector could perform analytics on an inspection site in real time would save time and money for all parties. According to Tech in Motion’s panel, applications like this are the next step in the evolution of mobile government computing.
Next-Generation IT Pros
Of course, these tech decisions will not generate any return without staffing the right individuals for the job. But present circumstances have arisen that may allow government agencies to invest in exactly the talent they need to benefit from this tech. As Goldy Kamali noted during the panel, nearly half of the federal workforce will be eligible for retirement over the next three years. This impending wave of retirements has federal human resources executives scrambling to figure out how best to restructure government offices and attract new talent to fill these soon-to-be vacant posts. In this situation, government HR departments may want to overlook candidates who simply have the most experience and instead put their trust in younger, more tech-savvy millennial candidates. According surveys groups like by Pew and Huddle, millennial candidates are generally more knowledgeable on the newest technology trends and more comfortable integrating innovative technology solutions into their work and personal lives. Millennial candidates are also more likely to collaborate when solving problems, which can shake up the status quo. The panel concurred that government agencies should utilize this wave of retirements as an opportunity to invest in the next generation of government agencies – a generation that can more efficiently use technology to increase efficiency and produce better results for the constituents they serve.
Events like these are very helpful for the RH team to get a bearing on the landscape in DC and move forward in developing sound PR recommendations for our clients. As we advise our roster of public sector-facing technology clients, there is one key takeaway message: Innovation in technology and greater access to people who know how to use it will help make government more efficient. Companies that can position themselves as solving this innovation problem will ultimately win in the federal marketplace.
Thanks again to FedScoop and Tech in Motion for the great event!
How are these trends in the federal marketplace affecting your business? Leave a comment below, or tweet us at @RHStrategic with the hashtag #RHetoricBlog. We’d love to hear from fellow PR professionals and journalists alike.
RH Strategic is the PR firm for a hyper-connected world, delivering integrated media, social & digital strategies for technology, healthcare, and public sector markets.