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Transforming IT starts with understanding the people, and their processes

Steve Harris, the senior vice president and general manager of Dell EMC Federal, said agencies need to give their workforce better, more secure technologies.

Steve Harris, the senior vice president and general manager of Dell EMC Federal, said agencies need to give their workforce better, more secure technologies.

When Congress wonders why agencies aren’t moving to the cloud more quickly, or keep getting hacked, or continue to hang on to the waterfall approach for IT development, it all comes back to really two interrelated things: People and training.

A survey of federal CIOs by the Professional Services Council finds the skillsets needed to successfully move off old technology and into the cloud, for instance, and shut down that old system just doesn’t exist broadly across the government.

And the workforce piece goes deeper than just skillsets to move technology. One in four online respondents believe the lack of resources has a significant negative impact on staff morale and leads to staff burnout.

So when even if there is a will, is there a way? Respondents to the PSC survey say the hiring freeze and budget uncertainty also hampered the IT modernization initiatives.

Even though we know the challenges, the people and training side, so far, has garnered little-to-no talk in Congress or the Trump administration.

There are glimmers of hope.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), for example, is floating the idea of a cyber national guard where college students exchange tuition payment for service in the government and then after so many years, they become call-up expertise in the case of emergency and/or they drill around cyber several times a year.

The White House’s cyber executive order also recognizes the need for a better trained workforce.  NIST led an effort to create a report assessing the current skillsets of the public and private sector workforces, and ODNI also wrote a report focused on how foreign adversaries develop their workforces.

But beyond the reports, which we don’t know the status of them, there hasn’t been a lot of other public action.

So how can agencies and industry work together to address both the workforce and IT modernization challenges?

Steve Harris, the senior vice president and general manager of Dell EMC Federal, said agencies need to consider both the technology and the workforce when transforming their technology systems and networks.

“When you look at putting technology in the hands of the government worker that actually helps them do their job better, you have to break it down to a hardware and software discussion,” Harris said on the Innovation in Government show. “From a software perspective, we have to create optimal mobility. We have to secure those devices after enabling that mobility necessary to do those jobs.”

Harris said from a hardware perspective, the Defense Department is a good example for others to look to. He said the Pentagon’s mandate to replace more than 2 million end points with Windows 10 devices is bringing them to a state of highly secure devices.

“It also offers an optimal operating system that allows the workers to use their data in an effective manner as they execute on some of the toughest job descriptions in the world,” he said. “Hardware runs software and software runs the world so when we look at transforming the workforce and focusing on enhanced productivity and improved outcomes, the first thing we have to do is understand the job description. You use software to build a digital workflow that enables the government worker to execute on their jobs.”

Harris said cybersecurity, of course, cuts across the workforce and technology initiatives.

He said Dell EMC developed a new Radio-frequency identification (RFID) enabled geo-fencing capability to protect mobile devices.

“When you roll out a mobile device, the government user will have different permissions depending on what part of the building they happen to be in. If that device exits the building, it may turn to a brick,” Harris said. “These profile management elements are enabled and provides a lot of operational security, but also a tremendous amount of productivity.”

Harris said through these advanced technologies agencies can deploy mobile devices confidently and give employees more tools to meet their mission.

“We know that workforce transformation is dependent on optimal IT solutions. We know that the data center in many agencies has a significant need for IT modernization,” he said. “You have to modernize the IT in the data center. You have  to transform the technology you are putting in the hands of the government end user as well as the workflow. The technology is the key to unlocking substantial improvements in productivity.”


About Dell EMC

Dell EMC Federal is part of a collective force of companies under the Dell Technologies umbrella — Dell, Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream, and VMware – trusted all over the world to provide technology solutions and services that accelerate digital transformation. We provide the foundation to help modernize, automate and transform your agency’s data center with industry-leading servers, storage, cloud computing solutions, and converged infrastructure technology.


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Jason Miller, Federal News Radio

Jason Miller is an executive editor and reporter with Federal News Radio. As executive editor, Jason helps direct the news coverage of the station and works with reporters to ensure a broad range of coverage of federal technology, procurement, finance and human resource news.As a reporter, Jason focuses mainly on technology and procurement issues, including cybersecurity, e-government and acquisition policies and programs.



Steve Harris, Senior VP and General Manager, Dell EMC Federal

Steve Harris senior vice president of Dell EMC Federal, responsible for the full portfolio of client solutions, enterprise systems, software, and services aimed at the U.S. federal customer. In his role, Steve draws on his extensive experience in the federal space to lead his team’s efforts to support and advise government and military customers seeking mission-critical IT solutions.

Prior to his current role, Steve served as the area vice president for Dell’s State and Local Government and Education (SLED) business, since 2009. His executive leadership responsibilities included business strategy, partner relations and alliances, sales, marketing, services and customer support oversight. Primary customer categories in this business include all U.S. state government, large counties and municipalities, large private universities, state university systems, and the largest K-12 districts.

With more than 16 years of sales leadership at Dell, Steve has also served as sales representative, account executive, regional sales manager and a manager for Dell’s Advanced Systems Group. Since March of 2006, Steve has served as an executive leader in Dell’s Public Business group, first serving as area vice president for the higher education and healthcare sales organization.

He is actively engaged in his community, and serves on several boards of directors, including the Veterans Employee Resource Group, Dell Technologies Political Action Committee, the Greater Baltimore Committee, and AFCEA Washington, D.C. Mr. Harris earned a bachelor’s degree in management science from the State University of New York at Geneseo.

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