According to a report in POLITICO this morning, Vivek Kundra, the first official Federal CIO and principle architect of the government’s technology strategy, is expected to leave the White House in August.
Considered by many as an innovative leader who has pushed government agencies towards cloud computing / virtualization, creating better online experiences for citizens and shifting government to be more innovative, Kundra’s departure would be a significant loss for the Obama administration.
Prior to joining the administration, Kundra was the CTO for the District of Columbia, and Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Technology under Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.
The report of his departure suggests he is leaving the administration for a position at Harvard, but his exact role remains unclear.
Last week, the Digital Government Institute conducted a panel and roundtable discussion on ways the government is creating a better online customer service experience. The panel included GSA’s acting director for the Center of Excellence in Digital Government, Sheila Campbell; the director of web services for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, Kim Taylor; and RightNow Technologies’ VP, Brian Curran.
Some of the sessions’ key points included:
- Quality customer service online is important to government agencies. Between the panelists and roundtable discussions every agency / department representative said that the increasing number of people searching for information online makes a positive customer experience mandatory. While many of these initiatives were underway before the recent Executive Order, the increased emphasis on customer experience is reaching into all areas of government.
- Define who your customers are both internally and externally. Knowing your audience is a crucial step to learning what content needs to be developed and how it needs to be presented. Government officials felt that knowing more about their users – using the data available about customer touch points – better enabled them to tailor services.
- Your website is a reflection on your organization. Everyone present echoed the need to get away from poorly designed websites that lacked proper navigation or common features that users expect when surfing online.
- Government destinations online need to mirror the bottom of an escalator in a train station. So, what does this mean? Well, it was an interesting analogy presented by Sheila Campbell. Her point was that the most important signs directing you to where you need to go must be front and center on your home page. Not unlike the bottom of an escalator in a train station, where the signs point people to the most critical areas: trains, tickets and toilets.
- Learn from others in the private sector. Private sector companies, like Southwest Airlines, who have been successful in creating an excellent customer experience are great resources for finding innovative ways to communicate with customers.
Other key discussion points were how government employees were working around a lack of resources, adopting free online tools and working hard to change the cultural mindset that often discourages creativity and aggressive action.
Using data and search improvements, the government is already improving on the way constituents find relevant information. By implementing a user-centric approach, government is delivering more information with fewer sites.
What does this ultimately mean to government contractors?
Though the government is coping with budget constraints and culture changes, there are still opportunities to provide services and technology to government agencies. However, the main idea to take into account is to always find out what a particular government client needs before you start providing solutions.
Many people know that in government contracting it is not just important to network – it is essential. Attending events with other government contractors, contract officers, and industry professionals is a critical path you must take to stay competitive.
But who attends these networking events for your company?
In conversations that I have had over the past year, I have learned that more often than not it is the CEO who takes on the responsibility of attending conferences and industry meetings. And companies often rely on their CEOs to do this.
However, instead of just relying on the CEO, a company should empower all the people in the organization to attend events and make positive connections.
After all, your people are there to take the company to the next level. If they can’t, why did you hire them?
Involving your team not only helps to expand your reach and engagement, it simultaneously energizes your employees and makes them greater stakeholders in the success of the organization. People become integrated instead of detached and vital instead of dispensable.
So, what kind of team did you hire? Do you want them to push your business forward and win government contracts?
If you are not hiring insightful or creative people with drive and ambition, you are missing perhaps the most critical component to being a successful government contractor.
Staying competitive is essential to any business.
Search online and you will find an almost infinite number of people offering ideas and best practices.
When I hear people ask what does it take to stay competitive in government contracting, the answers I most often hear revolve around tactics from networking to marketing, messaging and process management.
And they are all important. In fact, as a matter of reference, GovWin has covered these tactics during our Virtual Roundtable series (see Lindley Ashline’s blog posts entitled Get Close to Primes, But Watch for Pitfalls, Experts Sayand Get An Insider’s Look at Relationship Building and Past Performance).
In my view, there is no doubt that these tactics are worthy when done the right way, adapted for your business and most of all, executed by the right people.
But people are the key. And that is one area I think companies miss more often than any other.
With the right people, your company’s chance of success is far more substantial than without. The right people are leaders, activists, innovators and talented professionals who are looking to take everything they do to the next level.
So, who are the people on your team? What are their talents? Are they driving you forward or waiting for you to direct?
GovWin has updated the opportunity match score a company receives to include contract vehicle and place of performance. Also improved is the way matching is done for clearances, socio-economic status and end customer to account for hierarchy.
Here are some examples where these changes will play a role:
- Clearances – Companies with Top Secret clearances (staff or facility), will now be matches for opportunities that require Top Secret or lower clearances.
- Socio-economic status – Companies that are 8(a) certified will now match to opportunities that require 8(a), Small Business or Small Disadvantaged Business.
- End Customer – Companies that list experience with Army Corps of Engineers will match to opportunities that require experience with Army