The recent Disruptive Tech Awards – Programs Shifting the Landscape event showcased Federal thought leaders involved in moving emerging technology forward while continuing to focus on mission objectives. A highlight of the event, 22 program winners were recognized for their efforts in pushing products and processes to new levels in the Federal IT space. Program leads and members of their teams shared what makes them successful and can be viewed on the Disruptive Tech Winners Page.

Thank you to our speakers for their time, their insight, and for their roles in guiding and driving the industry.

  • Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, Acting Assistant Commissioner for Information and Technology and Chief Information Officer, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
  • Chakib Chraibi, Chief Data Scientist and ODS Acting Associate Director, National Technical Information Service, Department of Commerce
  • Jaime Gracia, Acquisition Manager, Procurement Innovation Branch, Acquisition Management and Planning Division, Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, Internal Revenue Service
  • George Hoffmann, Deputy Chief Information Officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Laura Prietula, Acting Executive Director, Multichannel Technology, Veterans Experience Office, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Chris Nichols, MHA, BSN, LSSBB, Program Manager, Enterprise Intelligence and Data Solutions PMO, Defense Healthcare Management Systems
  • Colonel Bobby Saxon, USA (Ret.), Deputy Chief Information Officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Sarah Tully, Product Manager, Beneficiary FHIR Data Server, Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Swathi Young, Artificial Intelligence Leader, Chief Technology Officer, IntegrityM

Kicking Things Off with DevSecOps

Leading off the event was a conversation on DevSecOps. The panel consisted of Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, Acting Assistant Commissioner for Information and Technology and Chief Information Officer, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security; Laura Prietula, Acting Executive Director, Multichannel Technology, Veterans Experience Office, Department of Veterans Affairs; and Colonel Bobby Saxon, USA (Ret.), Deputy Chief Information Officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The trio discussed developing cutting edge technology that is secure and beneficial to internal and external users.

Saxon mentioned the journey CMS has been on to obtain and maintain a continuous delivery model without downtime. The Agency has major systems with hundreds of applications in play. He looks for the Agency to accept risk as new technology is adopted, saying risk leads to culture change and without it, rewards could be limited.

Supporting national security was addressed by Bhagowalia. He looks for an adaptable approach, remaining agile, in the development of software. Using the cloud, being flexible and high-performing while remaining vigilant when it comes to security are priorities for his team.

Prietula approaches DevSecOps from a business perspective looking for design solutions providing security and quality while managing and delivering operations. She looks to deliver value within VA, recognizing the livelihood of individuals are affected through services offered by the Agency.

Everyone on the panel agreed that industry plays an important role. Often industry has experience with another agency or business where relatable information from past projects can be incorporated into current projects. Partnerships between Federal agencies and industry provide great opportunities for all involved to produce cutting edge technology while keeping the end user in mind.

Shifting to Intelligent Automation

A dialog around Intelligent Automation brought together Chakib Chraibi, Chief Data Scientist and ODS Acting Associate Director, National Technical Information Service, Department of Commerce; George Hoffmann, Deputy Chief Information Officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Chris Nichols, Program Manager, Enterprise Intelligence and Data Solutions PMO, Defense Healthcare Management Systems; and Swathi Young, Artificial Intelligence Leader, Chief Technology Officer, IntegrityM. This group examined innovative aspects in process automation.

Hoffmann noted automation is sought in repeatable projects at CMS with a goal of improved productivity as demand increases. The Agency seeks to get more value from the same resources while thinking of the art of possible.

Within DHA, efforts to move to a cloud environment are in the beginning phases according to Nichols. While technology can help in mission goals, the business process remains the core focus. The importance of data gathered and shared means the Agency is looking toward machine learning and automation to maintain and enhance their clinical core way of doing business.

Fighting fraud, waste and abuse are objectives for NTIS according to Chraibi. Working with other agencies, he and his team use intelligent automation to detect unusual patterns to detect over payment, irregular payment and fraudulent schemes. While it can be challenging working with the amount of data being collected and analyzed, the use of RPA and AI helps Federal agencies work efficiently and effectively.

Young spoke to an AI playbook, a joint effort by multiple agencies, sponsored by GSA, where assessment, readiness, selection, implementation and integration are the five steps to aid in enterprise-wide intelligent automation. She stressed the importance of the notion that automation does not replace humans but instead, allows them to work on more important tasks.

Featuring Tech Talks

Two of the day’s speakers spoke during the Tech Talks portion of the program. Jaime Gracia, Acquisition Manager, Procurement Innovation Branch, Acquisition Mgmt. & Planning Division, Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, Internal Revenue Service spoke about acquisition and intelligent automation tools. Sarah Tully, Product Manager, Beneficiary FHIR Data Server, Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services discussed APIs.

Gracia shared information about how emerging technology is being used in the acquisition process. Through a smarter procurement process, intelligent automation is helping with market research, which in turn provides more opportunities for a wider range of businesses. AI is helping with data management, including invoice management, allowing for invoices to be submitted correctly, processed faster and paid more quickly. Gracia also noted how automation is seen in business decisions and analysis. He encouraged industry to develop prototypes and demonstrations to showcase capabilities that will solve specific problems for agencies.

Tully shared information about how APIs are simple solutions to complex customer issues and how they have transformed how data from Medicare claims forms is being shared. Within the past two years, five interconnected API products have been implemented.

The Role of Industry

A common thread with many of the day’s speakers focused on seeking industry connections with a focus on partnership over business development. Agencies are looking to work smarter, not harder. The past six months have shown that risk should be encouraged as a means for advancement as disruptive technology has been needed and implemented quickly.

Government agencies look to industry to provide valuable insight into solving problems and achieving mission goals. Industry partners bring knowledge as they help improve user and customer experience.

More on the winners and their acceptance speeches is available here.

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