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Jonathan Alboum, Principal Data Strategist at ServiceNow, discusses the idea of the next GSA administrator serving as a chief operating officer of the federal government

Ann Dunkin, a member of the Biden transition team, and Greg Godbout have written a letter suggesting the General Services Administration take a bigger role in implementation of information technology across government. Jonathan Alboum, Principal Data Strategist at ServiceNow and former Chief Information Officer at the Department of Agriculture, spoke with “Government Matters” about the future of IT implementation in government.

In the letter, Dunkin and Godbout proposed designating the General Services Administration as a cabinet-level agency and making the GSA administrator serve as a chief operating officer for the government.

“I think when you read their paper and you understand what they’re going for, whether it’s moving GSA up or thinking about government a little differently, what’s really important is that there’s someone in the federal government that’s a senior enough level to coordinate all of the very good activities that have sprung up over the past four years … We have had innovations and changes that have elevated IT modernization and digital transformation,” Alboum said. “I think the biggest challenge we’ve had over the past four years as these different initiatives and capabilities have set up is that they’re not as well-coordinated as they need to be.”

Alboum said that while it’s easy to think the federal CIO would be performing these roles, there are silos in place due to the way the budget is set up. He said there’s a disconnect between the different aspects of IT modernization and digital transformation.

“I think we have to create some new position that’s able to see it all, that’s charged with overseeing it all,” he said.

The letter also recommends inspiring the innovation workforce, guiding agency leaders with the Agency Transformation Playbook, and ensuring continuity by creating a Transformation Advisory Board. Alboum said creating a framework for transformation at agencies would be a dramatic step forward.

“What I really like about their ideas is that we’re not starting from scratch. We’re building on what’s been accomplished over the prior four years … [and] these accomplishments were built on the prior eight years. We have a good history in the federal government, I believe, of not starting at the beginning when we get a new administration,” he said.

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