At the Excellence.gov Awards earlier this week, the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council recognized government programs that use innovative IT to improve services and enhance operations.
This may sound difficult in an era of ever-expanding compliance regulations, security concerns and privacy issues -- especially for government organizations. But Excellence.gov Award winners and organizers insist innovation and compliance can go hand in hand.
I think it’s more difficult to protect your data, given that there are countries out there that are purely focused on trying to get it.
“At the end of the day, it’s about results,” said Don Johnson, advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and member of the Excellence.gov steering committee. “We shouldn’t be hampered by compliance issues. We should look at compliance processes and re-engineer them.”
The awards luncheon recognized six winners in categories that included enhancing customer experience, intergovernmental collaboration and social media. A panel of senior government and industry IT executives picked the winners from more than 100 submissions from across the country.
The Department of State was recognized for “Excellence in Enterprise Efficiencies” and deemed overall winner of the 2012 Excellence.gov awards for the development of its Integrated Logistics Management System (ILMS). The system supports the State Department’s supply chain, which procures, stores, ships, tracks and traces supplies and personal effects all over the world.
One can imagine the security, privacy and compliance headaches that accompany deploying a system not only domestically, but also at 245 overseas posts in 175 countries.
“State ships, I think, 5,000 people’s goods back and forth across the globe each year, and there is a lot of personal information about those travelers in the system,” said Amy E. Tener, senior director of health and public service at Accenture, which worked with the State Department in developing ILMS. “So we had to focus on the PI side of things and make sure that data was highly secure and followed all of the personal identification rules.”
For example, Accenture and the State Department had to ensure that overseas posts couldn’t see data from other posts. At the same time, however, the U.S.-based overall management team had to be able to see all data coming in from all over the world. Cybersecurity was a huge concern as well, Tener added.
“I think it’s more difficult to protect your data, given that there are countries out there that are purely focused on trying to get it,” Tener said.
Security, collaboration boost compliance efforts
The Defense Manpower Data Center was recognized for its milConnect Web application, which provides military service members and their families with access to their profiles, health care enrollment information and benefits.
The milConnect application transmits a variety of sensitive personal information, so security was a major concern during development, said Mary Dixon, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center.
“We have to do self-service and maintain the privacy and security of those records so the military members and their spouse only see the things they are allowed to see, and not anything else,” Dixon said.
When developing these projects across agencies, cooperation is hugely important to success, said Mannone A. Butler, executive director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Butler’s organization was recognized at the Excellence.gov Awards for the D.C. Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Case Initiation Project (CIP).
More innovation and security resources
CIP automated the process by which adult criminal information is passed from arrest through prosecutorial action to the actual case filing. Eight partner agencies participated in the project.
“It was so important for us to make sure our federal, local, and judicial partners were at the table each step of the way to make sure we were addressing our compliance issues,” Butler said.
One organization that knows a great deal about the cybersecurity and compliance concerns that come with handling a tremendous amount of data is the Department of Defense (DOD). During her keynote address, DOD CIO Teresa M. Takai commended the award winners and nominees for finding innovative ways to make processes more efficient and IT more agile, despite security concerns .
“I actually gave a speech one time that talked about, ‘Is government and innovation an oxymoron?’” Takai told attendees. “I think the general public doesn’t really recognize how much all of you do and how much you’re dedicated to really bringing innovation in -- and you’re bringing it into an environment that is very difficult to change.”