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Gary Washington, Chief Information Officer at USDA, discusses what “strategic restructuring” will accomplish at USDA and how it will modernize employee skill sets

Specialists in information technology roles at the Department of Agriculture can retire early under a “strategic restructuring” plan announced by USDA CIO Gary Washington this week.

Washington said the agency modernized its IT infrastructure, automated processes, and introduced emerging technology as part of its role in the Centers of Excellence (CoE) initiative.

“We’re trying to provide our employees opportunities to obtain new skill sets… to take us into the future,” he said. Those skill sets include robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and more.

The CoE initiative served as a catalyst for USDA’s “strategic restructuring,” but the agency’s cloud migration effort was already underway before they were chosen as the lighthouse agency for the CoE effort government-wide.

“It enhanced our journey,” Washington said.

He plans to make the changes stick by clearly communicating the agency’s IT goals across the enterprise. Washington also wants government employees to play a larger role inside the agency – in the application of new IT solutions that drive better business outcomes.

A hiring freeze will be in place for IT specialists at USDA until the Office of the Chief Information Officer comes to a consensus on what their future workforce looks like. According to Federal News Radio, that freeze will last through fiscal 2021.

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