As the Federal government continues to execute on fundamental shifts in network security strategies like the move to zero trust architectures, agency tech leaders are emphasizing the need to push back against the status quo of established technology thinking.

During a Jan. 19 online event organized by ATARC, IT experts from two Federal agencies talked about progress on cybersecurity goals, and about how agency leadership can act to make for faster progress.

Andre Mendes, CIO at the Department of Commerce, explained how leadership is needed to move on from status quo thinking.

“Driving change in an environment where things are constantly changing, and ever faster, is the essence of leadership,” Mendes said. “The need to establish a desire for moving away from the status quo,” is a vital ingredient to leadership,” he said, adding, “the status quo is often the biggest enemy of the organization from a cybersecurity standpoint.”

Also on the to-do list for agency leadership is creating enthusiasm at the grass-roots level to propel technology advances.

“Real change often will blossom from the bottom,” said Tina Donbeck, CIO at the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), who added that leadership needs to cultivate “cheerleaders” for change across an organization.

“If you have them strategically placed within the organization, to really carry the water, [and] really generate excitement around whatever the initiative may be, it will be worth its weight in gold,” she said.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.