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Posted by on Oct 26, 2016

The Best of FedTalks 2016: Leading and Adapting in Government IT and Cybersecurity

The Best of FedTalks 2016: Leading and Adapting in Government IT and Cybersecurity

Brigadier General Greg Touhill speaks at FedTalks 2016.Last week, leaders from the tech and government IT communities gathered in downtown Washington, DC for FedTalks 2016. This day-long conference featured influential speakers on everything from cyber security and White House policy, to how technology (and smarter purchasing and implementation) supports ongoing change and improvement for the government and private citizens, and how to lead people through complicated change.

This year’s conference boasted over 1,200 attendees, leaders from all over the tech and government landscape. In case you weren’t one of them, or you couldn’t stay for every speaker, here are some of the highlights:

1. From U.S. CIO Tony Scott’s speech on IT Modernization: The themes and strengths of new and robust government IT and cybersecurity:

  • Speed
  • Flexibility
  • Adaptability
  • Agility

2. Some of the best advice from Veterans Affairs CIO LaVerne Council’s inspired speech on leadership through change:

  • Prepare for the unknown by planning for success
  • It’s not what’s going to happen to you, it’s what’s going to happen with you
  • When a new administration comes in you don’t restart, you just regain your energy

3. From Ann Dunkin, CIO of the EPA: Focus on user experience, on what the user actually wants. But also, you must educate your users while being wary of cyber fatigue.

4. From NSA Director Mike Rogers’ discussion on cybersecurity readiness: What do you want your government to do, to protect? Public dialogue is necessary. To generate positive outcomes for private citizens, we must incentivize positive outcomes.

5. From the panel discussion featuring Eric Hysen (Digital Services Executive Director, DHS) and Aaron Snow (Co-Founder and Executive Director, 18F), moderated by Brian Roach (Managing Director, SAP):

  • Make successes and innovations accessible to all in the federal government
  • Foster the idea that it’s OK to experiment in the government, at an appropriate scale
  • Who in the government actually likes the slowness and awkwardness of digital adaptation?
  • How to overcome the high walls of commercial enterprises getting involved in government partnerships? Just get started; help the government be a better shopper for services; the government has to do more to reach out and walk new vendors through the process.

6. From U.S. CISO Brigadier General Greg Touhill’s presentation on the U.S. Cyber Strategy:

  • Cybersecurity is risk management
  • Manage risk by following clear directions
  • Manage risk acceptable to your risk tolerance
  • Making cybersecurity “fighter-pilot simple” vs. “simple enough for my mom”
  • The goal of the U.S. cybersecurity strategy should be understood by citizens and federal employees, supported by an open and transparent government
  • The five lines of effort for U.S. cybersecurity strategy: (1) Better training for the workforce, (2) Treat information as an asset, (3) Do the right things the right way, (4) Continuously innovate and invest wisely, and (5) Make informed cybersecurity decisions.

7. From Haley Van Dyck’s and Mikey Dickerson’s presentation on the status of the United States Digital Service (USDS, or as Haley and Mikey put it, “Peace Corps for nerds”): Lessons learned from the first two years of USDS operations:

  • Hard deadlines are crucial
  • Nothing gets done without air cover (i.e. support from executive leadership)
  • Successful projects defy organizational boundaries
  • Technology alone doesn’t change things

FedTalks 2016 was fun, informative, and comprehensive. Here’s to next year’s conference!

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