Editor’s note: In this commentary, Parham Eftekhari discusses ways that federal agencies are sharing best practices to save money and enhance security. Eftekhari is co-founder and executive vice president-research at the Washington, D.C.-based Government Technology Research Alliance (GTRA). Public and private sector leaders belong to the GTRA. The organization, which has over 10,000 members, is dedicated to the development and success of the government IT community. Here are the views of Parham Eftekhari. His Twitter handle: @ParhamTech

While the American public gets a very negative perception of Washington D.C., and our federal government in the media, it is important to remember that they are only seeing the hardcore political side — with all of its mudslinging, election and poll-driven sound bytes, and partisan discord.

Behind the few hundred politicians and their inability to work together are thousands of government and contractor employees who genuinely love their country and work tirelessly day-in and day-out to make lives better for citizens, support our troops and protect our borders and our critical infrastructures.

I believe that innovation is indeed taking place in Washington despite the slow pace at which Capitol Hill works. One example of many in the information technology space is the consolidation of IT systems and networks in both civilian and defense agencies.

In the Department of Defense (DoD) alone, a recent initiative called JRSS (Joint Regional Security Stacks) will reduce the number of points-of-presence on the DoD network from 700 to 24. This not only will save hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, but it will also significantly improve the DoD’s ability to protect its infrastructure and data from cyber terrorists. These terrorists are attacking the U.S. on a daily basis to steal classified information in order to cause harm to the U.S., our citizens and our troops.

To be innovative in Washington, federal managers cannot wait for Congress to act. These managers are often in the Senior Executive Service classification or at the GS-15 or above federal pay scale. They must find ways to work within the current contracting and acquisition vehicles that exist to create innovative solutions to their needs. One of the first steps to this process is by communicating with their peers in other agencies.

I’ve seen instances time and time again of federal agency leadership acting within silos. This behavior exists even from one office to the next within the same department. In these instances, federal administrators need to remember that they are all on the same team. Inter-agency sharing of best practices, lessons learned and success strategies is one of the quickest ways to jump-start innovation within an office that is lacking in that area.

GTRA is hosting the SecureGOV IT Summit + Council Meeting from December 7-9 in Leesburg, Va. The event will enable executive collaboration on matters and topics that are vital to IT security success in government.

In this video, a panel discusses the topic “Learning How to Run in a Mobile World: BYOD, MDM and End-User Behaviors,” at a recent GTRA council meeting.


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