Greg Gershman at Code for America Summit on Reshaping the Government Technology Ecosystem
Yesterday co-founder and CEO Greg Gershman joined Rafael Lopez of Accenture, Marquis Carbrera of IBM, and Dan Hon, CfA Summit Co-Chair on the main stage at the Code for America Summit for a session on Reshaping the Government Technology Ecosystem.
Greg spoke about what was needed in the government technology ecosystem to effect real, sustained change at scale. In looking at the impact user-centric efforts have had, they are still a fraction of the overall budget spent by the federal government.
Real change requires embracing a new mindset:
Technology is not ancillary to what government does, it is what government does. With that recognition will come the further recognition that government must invest in and procure technology, digital services, at scale. This means building capacity internally by growing current government employees with experience in technology, or providing them assistance with digital services teams or technologists. It also means actively shaping the market to deliver the kinds of services needed, and open communication with that market.
It means contract vehicles that are focused on vendors that bring not just the practices to succeed at government technology projects, such as agile and user-centered design, but the cultural values that underpin those practices that are the real thing that defines success in this work: communication, flexibility to change, delivery, empathy. Contract vehicles tell vendors: “Invest in this, and we will grow together.” We must shift how we think about procurement from identifying a vendor for a project, to cultivating a vendor ecosystem that can deliver.
With this approach, we begin to see a path to change at real scale. There is an idea that we need to eliminate entrenched vendors from government. For very basic economic and political reasons, that will not happen. What can happen, and will happen if we choose to make it happen, is that increased competition will force everyone in the space to improve, or be left behind. This is what it will take to create meaningful, lasting change to the government technology ecosystem. And the only way forward is together.