How to affect Government Tech in uncertain times
Every four years, a change in presidential administration brings a period of relative uncertainty. This time, however, the transition brought more than the usual uncertainty. The federal government has made tremendous progress during the last few years with regard to government technology and innovation, from the creation of the US Digital Service and 18F to new positions like White House Chief Data Scientist and U.S. Chief Technology Officer. Keeping the momentum going, however, will be a critical challenge if the US government is ever going to get in front of the Rodgers’ bell curve.
Will the tech industry show up?
One of the biggest open questions now is whether the tech sector will still be interested in engaging with the federal government under a Trump Administration, given the clashes Trump had with some prominent tech companies during the campaign and first month on the job. Some may be turned off and want to avoid the federal government after these tense encounters. However, it’s deeply important for these companies, more than ever, to realize that the majority of federal employees are not political, and that regardless of who resides in the White House, the job of civil servants is to serve the American people and make the government more effective and efficient.
Doing more with less
As leadership changes, budgets will change, and agencies will likely be asked to do more with fewer resources. At the same time, many programs will feel increasing pressure to prove their worth as budgets are cut and programs come under the microscope.
Private sector technology can play an important role in helping agencies become more efficient, more productive, and to keep forward-looking.
The new administration’s tech priorities are still unclear, but it’s likely that military, security and law enforcement technology will remain an area of intense interest. Obama’s Presidential Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity issued a report with recommendations for the next administration, urging the government to “build on work begun by the private sector” and calling for increased private-public cooperation on cybersecurity solutions. Although it has not yet materialized, Trump called during the campaign for a Cyber Review Team to assess cybersecurity threats to the US, possibly indicating that the Trump administration will give significant attention to the issue. This presents an opportunity for companies with cybersecurity innovations to find a new market.
Increased privatization ahead?
Several of Trump’s Cabinet picks have a long history of pushing for privatization of certain government programs, which could indicate an increase in the amount of work that is contracted out. If this occurs, agencies will need more than ever to connect with high performing private sector companies to ensure they have access to the best technologies on the market, and opportunities will grow for tech companies seeking to enter the federal market.
Lean into the market.
Whatever happens during the early days of the new administration and beyond, the bottom line is this: administrations change, but the core mission of the government does not. Serving and protecting the American people remains the driving goal behind everything the federal government does. Tech companies can do their part by leaning into the market and support agencies that still have a mission to do, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. Let agencies draw on the innovative spirit of the nation’s entrepreneurs to solve the country’s biggest problems.