How IT investment will build the government agencies of tomorrow

Sometimes, even with the truth staring you in the face, it can be quite difficult to take decisive action.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and its corresponding injection of funds into state and local governments could provide a unique opportunity to reinvest and modernize America’s aging infrastructure – including and especially through Technology Infrastructure. The $1.2 trillion bill contains about $550 billion in new spending above baseline levels, meaning government agencies should use this moment not just to upgrade their digital tools and capabilities. automation, but to build a stronger foundation for new levels of service excellence and overall success for many years to come.

Additionally, it has become clear during the COVID-19 pandemic that the digital ‘haves’ are separating themselves from the pack, leveraging emerging technologies and practices to maintain or even improve business continuity. Meanwhile, the digital “have-nots” have fallen further behind.

Yet nearly two-thirds of public sector respondents (60.6%) to a recent survey said they were unsure whether their organization would use IIJA funds for technology improvements, or that they didn’t think it was at all or very likely it would be. It’s time to change that mindset. Public sector actors should invest in their digital future, and they should be committed to it with fervor.

Why state and local agencies should invest

Let’s address a reality of the moment: Ambitious and potentially visionary legislation like the IIJA simply cannot have the lasting transformational impact on physical infrastructure that leaders aspire to without the intelligence and efficiency inherent in digital technologies. This moment requires integrated and smart technologies to serve as critical enablers.

Simply put, state and local governments need to seize this moment to better automate their operations – from scratch – and to meet the growing demands for secure and smooth project execution as well as continuous service delivery. Smart businesses will be integrated businesses, those that use digital tools to fuel their knowledge, improve their decision-making, and improve the lives of their citizens, every day.

Taking a tactical, piecemeal approach to system improvements means missing the chance to create a fully digitally transformed agency, one that operates efficiently from the bottom up, enabling citizens, customers and employees to benefit from:

  • Integrated applications, data and processes.
  • Innovation with industry best practices.
  • Flexible value chains.
  • A better understanding of the sentiment of citizens and employees.
  • Improved efficiency, resilience, responsiveness and sustainability to better manage environmental impacts.

What will investment in technology look like

Today’s most advanced, versatile and efficient technologies are integrated in and for the cloud.

The cloud offers higher levels of security (via managed services); the ability to adapt to a wide range of public, private and hyperscaler cloud models; the ability to integrate and scale data, applications and processes as needs evolve and change; the ability to take advantage of intuitive and powerful data intelligence, analysis and reporting capabilities; and practical applications for next-generation technologies, such as process automation and artificial intelligence.

This is where any investment should begin and end. In addition, the overall objectives should focus on the following five areas:

  1. Modernization of infrastructure.
  2. Pursue targeted, industry-specific technology improvements.
  3. Continuous improvement in durability.
  4. Better understand and support stakeholder experiences.
  5. Better understand business process improvement opportunities.

This is a window into what state and local agencies will look like to make the most of these federal funds and improve their technology infrastructure — and, therefore, eventually their physical infrastructure.

Where our future investments will take us

Moving the IIJA’s project portfolios forward in a thoughtful and timely manner will require a strong enterprise technology master plan that combines legislative objectives with organizational priorities. Short-lived, siled, or disposable improvements will not serve the purpose of the IIJA, leverage public funds wisely, or position an agency for success. It is essential that stakeholders seize the opportunity that presents itself with well-defined objectives and a clear vision.

The technological infrastructure is now vital. It is no less important than the roads, bridges or water distribution systems it supports. And now is the time to embark on the path to long-term success.

So stop thinking about it. The truth is out there. It’s time to act.

Ashley C. Reynolds