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Tech Transforms podcast: Government digital transformation and how agencies can balance innovation and security

On the Tech Transforms podcast, sponsored by Dynatrace, we talk to some of the most prominent influencers shaping critical government technology decisions.

As digital transformation continues to redefine how the government does business, cloud migrations and artificial intelligence (AI) are playing increasingly indispensable roles. But greater adoption invites greater risks. In a recent Tech Transforms podcast episode, we discussed government digital transformation and AI in government. Specifically, we considered how to strike the right balance between embracing these advancements and safeguarding systems, data, and users.

Episode 75’s guest, Ross Nodurft, brought the perfect blend of high-level public sector experience and insights to this discussion. Nodurft is the executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Digital Innovation (ADI). He leads an organization that seeks to streamline and improve the way that agencies acquire and deploy commercial solutions. The ADI supports laws, policies, and regulations that contribute to IT modernization, simplified acquisition, enhanced cybersecurity, and a more tech-savvy workforce.

Digital transformation prompts government security guardrails

Previously, Nodurft served as the chief of the Office of Management and Budget’s cyber team for federal cybersecurity policy and agency incident response. He also served as a legislative director for a U.S. House of Representatives member, a senior policy advisor for a U.S. senator, and a professional staff member with the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

On the podcast, Nodurft expounded the highly elevated presence of the federal cloud since the pandemic, driven by a rapid increase in remote workers. Because such a shift creates new and widespread risks, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) – which promotes the secure adoption of cloud services among agencies by providing a standardized approach to cyber defense and risk assessments – is overseeing FedRAMP High Impact certifications. Dynatrace is in the process of achieving FedRAMP High Impact, a certification that holds vendors accountable for most sensitive and unclassified data, including that concerning the protection of life and financial ruin.

“[Agencies] are moving more sensitive data sets and systems into cloud environments because people are working remotely,” Nodurft said. “People are deciding to step up and use FedRAMP High to protect the systems that govern those mission sets . . . we think this is net good. People gain efficiencies. They gain security.”

Discover more about Dynatrace’s commitment to achieving top security standards for government agencies, including FedRAMP High.

White House EO provides cautionary blueprint for AI in government

The White House Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence has established a general vision and supportive policies to ensure that agencies realize the extraordinary possibilities of AI in a responsible manner. The near-ubiquitous impact of AI in government – affecting everything from voting cycles to water safety to hospital operations to flight systems – brings the potential for profound accomplishments, but also devastating harm.

The current administration’s guidance represents a good start toward striking the right balance. However, according to Nodurft, the guidance is not very clear-cut. Such ambiguity means agencies will have the autonomy to make individual decisions about AI development and implementation. This could result in a wealth of fragmented rules or policies for partnering commercial organizations to follow, so the ADI is working with government leaders in the interest of a more standardized approach. “Otherwise, we’re going to be running around answering to a hundred-plus agencies with different interpretations of this matter,” said Nodurft.

Ultimately, AI innovation and government digital transformation are positively impacting agencies. “[Teams can] do their jobs faster, better, and in a way they couldn’t before,” said Nodurft. “We are moving quickly to a digital environment. We need to make sure everything we are managing in the enterprise is interacting digitally.”

He continued: “There’s the good, and then there’s the potentially bad. We must mitigate the bad so we can keep using companies like Dynatrace in our environments and deliver the services that must be delivered to the American people.”

Tech Transforms cover Episode 75: This episode of Tech Transforms discusses how agencies can pursue cloud adoption and AI in government in an innovative – but also responsible and secure – manner.

Tune in to the full episode for more insights from Ross Nodurft, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Digital Innovation (ADI).

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