Federal CIO Suzette Kent said today at an event hosted by the Professional Services Council that the Federal government is currently seeing a “nexus of three critical elements” that provides an unprecedented opportunity for innovation in IT.

Those elements, she said, are a clear leadership mandate, the recognition of technology as a mission enabler, and a resource commitment to support the innovation journey.

Kent expounded on a question she posed to the audience assembled, “Why is today different?”

“We have an unprecedent opportunity to accelerate technology innovation through the President’s Management Agenda, through this administration’s attention to technology leadership, and the bipartisan support of the technology agenda in Congress,” Kent said.

In a speech largely addressed to Federal contractors and private sector technology providers, Kent repeatedly stressed the importance of public-private partnership throughout. She described, through the frame of conflict, how partnerships had been forged throughout American history to fuel innovation.

“At a time when we were under challenge, the best minds across government and industry came together. It’s in our history,” Kent said of World War II era innovations, describing a recent visit to the Washington, D.C. memorial commemorating the war.

She explained that partnerships are of particular importance today, but under different circumstances.

“We’re in a different kind of battle. We’re in a cyber battle, and we’re in a technology battle, and we need that same kind of dialogue and that same kind of push to continue,” Kent said.

She encouraged the audience to consider how to foster increased dialogue in the work performed across Federal agencies, paying particular attention to how, as a solutions provider, you “can be an agent of change” and, in executing innovation and modernization tactics, “how we do that together.”

“The Federal government has been a historic innovator. It’s in our purpose. It’s been in our DNA,” Kent said. “And I could spend my entire time up here this morning sharing some of the fantastic innovations that are going on right now, where those are in pockets across the Federal government enterprise. But we have to institutionalize that, and make it an everyday thing.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.