Managing IT Complexity in Federal Agencies


Despite recent progress, IT-related problems continue to hinder work at government agencies. These include data in silos across locations that complicate information-gathering and decision-making, rising cyber threats targeting employee logins, and legacy systems that don’t adapt easily to mission changes or remote work environments.

Accordingly, a recent study by Gartner found that while 72 percent of programs aimed at government IT modernization saw gains in response to the pandemic, fewer than half (45 percent) have scaled across the organizations they serve.

Fortunately, best practices and managed services can alleviate the problem. Trusted Artificial Intelligence (AI) for operations, zero-trust cybersecurity frameworks, and managed systems integration can all help, according to Aruna Mathuranayagam, chief technology officer at Leidos.

Managing IT Complexity

Mathuranayagam identifies three critical areas for federal agencies to address to streamline operations and reduce costs while increasing employee productivity and safeguarding sensitive data. These are systems integration, zero-trust cybersecurity practices, and digital user experiences.

  • Systems integration helps bridge divides across data silos without compromising security, according to Mathuranayagam. “Some of our customers are building common DevSecOps platforms so they can adopt algorithms or cloud practices quickly,” Mathuranayagam says. “The platforms are common across the different classified environments. The activities may vary within each secret classification, but they have a unified practice.” An example of where such integration can help is the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), with headquarters in Washington, D.C., and eight sites across the country. Those sites have tended to manage their IT and implement cybersecurity measures in their own ways, creating silos, according to Mathuranayagam.
  • Zero trust cybersecurity represents more of an ongoing journey than a problem to be solved with off-the-shelf solutions, according to Mathuranayagam. But it is essential for safeguarding systems and data from today’s sophisticated and relentless attacks. “You have to look at how your networks are configured, how your employee authorizations are configured, how your architecture is laid out,” Mathuranayagam says. “It’s a complete transformation of your philosophy and how you have been providing security to your users, to your customers, to your stakeholders.”
  • Digital user experiences are often given less attention in IT transformations. However, they are vital for streamlined operations and productivity, according to Mathuranayagam. That’s because well-designed interfaces and workflows reduce the burden on users so they can work with minimal friction.

Bringing these focus areas together in a managed enterprise cybersecurity model will result in safer, more efficient, and less costly IT, according to Mathuranayagam. She cites Leidos as a vendor providing a unique toolset and deep experience for meeting the challenge.

Managed IT and Security from Leidos

AI plays a starring role in IT managed by Leidos. “What Leidos has built in the last ten years of research and development from supporting a wide range of customers across the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, federal civilian agencies, and the intelligence community, is something called trusted AI,” Mathuranayagam explains.

Trusted AI developed by Leidos depends on a framework known as the Framework for AI Resilience and Security, or FAIRS. The system lets organizations gather data across systems for deep analysis while enhancing security.

The benefits of using FAIRS include reduced cognitive workload through automation and the surfacing of insights from data across systems. “It can identify patterns that we as humans cannot identify in terabytes or petabytes of data across different sources,” Mathuranayagam says.

For example, AI-driven data analysis can spot trends in help tickets. Analysis of ticket types, frequency of tickets, and peak times for tickets can lighten the load for tech support teams. “You can start observing the tickets and extract patterns,” Mathuranayagam says. “And then you can write rules-based algorithms to autonomously respond to certain tickets or implement practices to eliminate a percentage of them.”

In the realm of security, although no single solution can check the “zero trust” box, trusted AI and managed services from Leidos can give agency IT leaders confidence on the journey.

Mathuranayagam explains that Leidos helps organizations understand their IT environments through complete visibility of all assets, identifying any security gaps. From there, Leidos experts help teams build multi-year roadmaps and acquire the expertise and technologies they need, all of which can aid agencies in reducing digital complexity and risk while advancing their missions.

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