Advancing Government: 3 Strategies for Federal Agencies to Accelerate Digital Transformation

By John Ustica, CEO, Siemens Government Technologies

Advancing Government

How the U.S. Federal Government can adopt and adapt to deeper digitalization for faster innovation

In the more than twenty years I have been with Siemens and Siemens Government Technologies, I have never witnessed a period of such radical technological change than what has occurred in the past two years.

The pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation. Serving as both a sprint and stress test for federal agencies, the pandemic incentivized the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management practices to adapt to current realities. However, as the pandemic persists and new challenges emerge, a fundamental shift is desperately needed for a true digital transformation across government.

The critical need to pivot quickly and embrace digitalization is compounded by rapidly morphing challenges. Physical and cyber threats are evolving and escalating. Aging infrastructure must be modernized. And tightening regulations and new mandates are pressing government leaders to improve transparency, productivity, and sustainability.

Challenges facing government customers

Yet, while government personnel are being asked to deliver high-quality solutions to increasingly complex problems at an even-faster rate, they cannot rely on expanding budgets to keep up with growing expectations of their services. To close the gap, they must get more done, and do it better, often without additional resources.

For the government customers we are privileged to serve, digital transformation is an imperative, and not “just” a priority. In my new “Advancing Government” series, I discuss how digitalization gives federal agencies the means to fulfill their missions with increased efficiency and effectiveness, and how to overcome barriers to adoption.

Here, I examine three strategies for federal agencies to accelerate digital transformation and how this period of rapid change can serve as a blueprint for future progress.

3 digital strategies to drive federal innovation

Accelerate adoption of digital twin and digital thread solutions

1. Accelerate adoption of digital twin and digital thread solutions

Digital twins are perhaps the most transformative technology if broadly applied across government. A virtual representation of a physical product or process, digital twins are used to understand and predict the physical counterpart’s performance characteristics.

Digital twins are already being deployed by government agencies today to transform their operations. For example, Siemens Government Technologies is leading a first-of-its-kind effort to provide the U.S. Navy with comprehensive digital twins of the nation’s four public shipyards as part of the Navy’s Shipyard Infrastructure and Optimization Program (SIOP).

Overcoming barriers of adoption

However, while digital twins are increasingly accessible and can help customers experiment, collaborate, and operate more efficiently, the technology is slow to be adopted. In a 2021 U.S. Federal Survey, only 24 percent of federal executives report their organization is currently experimenting with digital twins.

How can government not only accelerate adoption of digital twin technology, but do so at scale? Implementing this type of technology usually revolves around three core challenges: the collection of suitable, real-time data; consistent and verifiable data standards; and a need for cooperation and co-creation across the agency. Partnering with a leading provider of digital twin and digital thread solutions can help customers overcome these barriers and execute digital twins with greater speed, scope, and success.

2. Strengthen supply chain readiness and resilience through reshoring and trusted traceability

Even before the pandemic, there were vulnerabilities in America’s defense supply chain. Take for example the semiconductor crisis. Almost all major U.S. defense systems and platforms rely on semiconductors for their performance. But in 2019, only 12 percent of microchips were manufactured on U.S. soil.

The pandemic exposed a complex crack in the defense supply chain foundation. The U.S. is too dependent on foreign nations for vital commodities, and, as a result, access to essential materials and items becomes a threat to national security. To strengthen supply chain readiness and resilience, government branches can embrace a rebirth in U.S. industrial might through reshoring chipsets and semiconductor  manufacturing, and in doing so, adopt a digital-first framework to securing strategic national assets. The recent bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act is a great shot in the arm for reshoring efforts with associated incentives to bolster semiconductor production here in the U.S.

Developing a digital-first framework

In a 2021 joint Task Force report, industry experts proposed establishing a Digital Strategic National Stockpile Pilot Program. Through digital twin and digital thread technologies, government can develop digital national stockpiles – developed through powerful software and data leveraging digital twins – to better respond to the next national crisis.

Digitalization can enable rapid emergency response capabilities to replenish and roll-out essential items, such as personal protective equipment and vaccines. It can also eliminate process inefficiencies in logistics and enhance supply chain visibility through digital tracing technologies, like blockchain. Establishing a Digital Strategic National Stockpile Pilot Program will bolster economic and national security.

Accelerate adoption of digital twin and digital thread solutions
Execute data-driven improvements

3. Execute data-driven improvements with cloud technologies

As the generation of data in today’s digital first world increases exponentially, delivering the right data at the right time where it’s needed most is requiring new flexible solutions. The challenge of data management is certainly felt by our customers, as they support an increasingly distributed workforce responsible for managing vast amounts of highly important and sensitive data. To better enable agility and collaboration, the federal government must modernize and migrate from legacy on-premise environments to the cloud.

Cloud technologies – when implemented with robust security protocols – unlock new levels of efficiency and speed information flow for federal agencies to deliver on their missions from anywhere, at any time. By improving connection and communication between personnel, organizations, and IoT devices, cloud technologies increase internal and external data accessibility for faster, data-driven decisions.

Harnessing cloud technologies

For federal agencies, migration initiatives started several years ago with the adoption of a “cloud-first” strategy. However, the biggest hurdle to wide-scale adoption has been identifying the workloads, conducting the migrations successfully and monitoring them once transitioned to the cloud. Additionally, different types of data and applications will require different security measures, as well as varying levels of flexibility and performance. But instead of ripping out and replacing individual tools to give every team member the same technology, federal customers can install a single platform with an application suite that brings data together from existing systems.

For example, Siemens Defense Cloud is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application suite certified as Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) “Ready” at the high impact level. Capable of handling the government’s most sensitive, unclassified data, Siemens Defense Cloud provides a secure cloud computing environment to deploy critical software and applications. 

There is no greater way for federal customers to breakdown data silos and improve data accessibility and actionability than by adopting cloud technologies. However, implementing cloud technologies will require partnership between the government and industry, which is a vital component of any federal agency’s digital transformation strategy.

Strengthening federal and commercial partnerships

Strengthening federal and commercial partnerships

Keeping up with technologies developed across the commercial landscape has never been more important for the Department of Defense and government contractors than it is today. With the pandemic dramatically increasing the speed and scale of digitalization and disruption, government must partner with private sector companies to address the complexity of threats and the pace of innovation that places the nation at risk.

Your partner in innovation

At Siemens Government Technologies, we sit side-by-side with our federal customers to help them accelerate their use of powerful digitalization tools and digital twins to decrease development time and costs, while also increasing agility and quality of new systems and environments to maximize efficacy and reduce system downtime for maintenance and sustainment. As integrators of the globally trusted products and services of Siemens, a world leader in digital transformation, Siemens Government Technologies has the innovation to not only support your mission, but also accelerate it forward.

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John Ustica is the CEO of Siemens Government Technologies (SGT), Inc., the separate but affiliated U.S. government arm of technology powerhouse Siemens. With project teams throughout the U.S. and overseas, SGT is a cleared provider of Siemens products, technologies, and software to solve some of the most complex government challenges in energy, automation and digitalization. 

In his role as CEO, Ustica leads a dynamic project-focused organization working on transformative initiatives that are unlocking new levels of energy efficiency and resiliency across military bases and depots, with over $1 billion in energy programs and services under contract today. SGT technologists are at the forefront of digital transformation in government, by helping customers deploy product lifecycle management software tools and digital twins connecting the real and virtual worlds to optimize operations, predict outcomes more accurately, and reduce overall costs. 

Ustica joined SGT in 2018 as Chief Financial Officer and has more than 20 years’ experience in effectively serving Siemens’ customers around the world.  Recognized for his contributions to local communities and industry, Ustica was named to the “Top 40 Business Leaders Under 40” by the Charlotte Business Journal in 2018, and in 2021, he received WashingtonExec’s Chief Officer Award as Public Company CFO of the Year for his innovation, expertise and thought leadership within the government contracting space.  

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