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Tim’s Takeaways: 930Gov Convention


Tim Rund

Date Published

Oct 02, 2023
5 minute read

930Gov is the longest-running conference and tradeshow for government IT professionals in the Washington, D.C. area. The Clearing’s Tim Rund joined leaders from across industries and agencies for this day of discussion around pressing technology challenges and opportunities. Here are his takeaways from the event.

Digitizing paper records picks up steam.

There was an interesting conversation around the digitization of paper records during the NARA Update panel, which also included a discussion on the need for NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) to move beyond solely paper documents and more proactively address the archiving and retention of texts, social media posts, and today’s other digital communications. From a shared services perspective, talk about creating an “Information Governance” Quality Service Management Organization (QSMO) piqued my interest given the increasing interest around shared services use in data strategy and governance. This QSMO would be dedicated to creating and managing a marketplace of providers and capabilities in support of FOIA, Records Management, and the federal strategy for driving digital eRecords adoption. Opinions on the right agency to stand up a QSMO, however, were split.

The bots are coming – and it’s not bad.

Andrea Brandon, Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for Budget, Finance, Grants and Acquisition at the Department of Interior (DOI), was the speaker for the Business Integration and Innovation Office: RPA and Bots to Take on Low-Value/Repetitive Work session. She shared several “lessons learned” from her efforts to bring AI into the agency fold, one of which focused on the importance of culture and not getting out ahead of her team. DAS Brandon’s desire was to have her agency move quickly to an AI-enhanced architecture.

Culturally, however, her team was not comfortable moving that fast and instead wanted to focus on embracing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and automation bots before beginning to contemplate how AI might factor into their technology transformation journey. She noted that taking this first step was also the first step in beginning the culture change needed to fully embrace advanced technologies and ease fears around potential job and workforce impacts. It will be interesting to see how the use of these tools evolves, how organizational cultures change with their adoption, and what arrangements agencies may make to share the development and deployment load, such as a QSMO.

AI continues to gain steam.

AI is a hot topic among federal leaders, with some adopting it faster than others. Edward McLarney, NASA Digital Transformation Lead for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and Team Chief, Enterprise OCIO Data Science Services, is one opting for speedy adoption, noting that AI has become far more powerful and available for everyday users – and a massive opportunity for NASA. He has been proactive in terms of policy directives that allow for the use of NASA devices to access personal generative AI accounts, employing a “Thou shalt innovate with AI and do it safely” transformation strategy. Similar to DAS Brandon’s efforts to use AI for repetitive work, this past summer McLarney’s team tested generative AI to translate legacy COBOL code to new generation code languages.

Interestingly, The Clearing worked with a defense agency faced with a COBOL challenge of its own: maintaining it as employees familiar with this antiquated language age out of the workforce. Thanks to leaders like McLarney and Brandon, it’s easier to see a future where technology can be used to help overcome some of these uniquely modern challenges.

If you’d like to hear more about 930Gov or want to discuss how shared services and emerging tech can be harnessed at your organization, we would love to chat. Reach out anytime – we’ll be ready.