Call him Tony the Tiger: Just weeks into his new job, new Federal CIO Tony Scott is on the prowl for the most promising techies on the government payroll.

His 2015 CIO Council IT Solutions Challenge aims to unleash the government’s best and brightest, give them the room to shake up government IT, and tackle its biggest problems. Who knows better than middle managers what’s really holding them back? And what better way to empower them than to encourage them to seize the moment?

That’s Grrrreat!
Here’s the heart of his Big Idea: “The Challenge is targeting IT and IT acquisition professionals in the GS-9 through GS-13 range who will be able to uncover and analyze policy and procedural problems within their Agencies or across the Federal Government. We are focusing on these rising stars because looking at problems from a new vantage point will allow important issues to surface that may not have been realized otherwise.”

Agencies will select their rising stars, who will be assembled into working teams, provided with mentors who will help run brainstorming sessions and subject matter experts to share expertise and insight as teams develop solutions. The aim is to present solutions to federal IT leaders in the fall, and then work on rollout plans to put them into effect.

The Real Challenge
Federal IT’s problems are well documented and regurgitated with painful regularity. Cybersecurity isweak. Cloud migration is slow. Agencies remain cautious. Procurement takes forever. Hiring takes even longer. Legacy systems eat up budget like kids eat candy. There’s a reason federal IT landed on theGAO’s high-risk list. Can key tech initiatives help? What can be done to shut down shadow IT? (Yes, Hillary Clinton wasn’t the only abuser, but that only makes the whole problem worse).

But Scott’s not been one to shy away from challenges. And tapping the rising stars has multiple payoffs. It invests time and attention and a new spirit of excitement into a critical part of the workforce, and it also unshackles those stars from the burdens that risk burning them out.

What’s your view? How would you change federal IT?
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MeriTalk Staff