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FY23 Budget Testimony

FY23 Budget Deep Dive Presentation

FY23 Budget Oversight Testimony

GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Office of the Chief Technology Officer

Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Oversight Hearing

Testimony of Lindsey V. Parker
Chief Technology Officer
Office of the Chief Technology Officer
 
Before the Committee on Government Operations
The Honorable Robert White
Chairman Council of the District of Columbia
 
March 29, 2022
 
Via Web Conference
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

 

Good afternoon, Councilmember White, members of the Committee on Government Operations and staff – I hope you and your families are safe and healthy. I am Lindsey Parker, the Chief Technology Officer for DC Government, testifying today on behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s FY23 Fair Shot Budget for the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO).

I am joined today by the OCTO Chief of Staff Carol Harrison, Deputy Chief of Staff Tehsin Faruk and Agency Fiscal Officer Phil Peng, assigned by the Chief Financial Officer to OCTO.

OVERVIEW

We know that the past two years have triggered faster IT change than any of us have ever seen, and the pace isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Mayor Bowser doubled down on that need for a technology-enabled government in her FY23 Fair Shot budget and has included investments across government, including more than $40M in enhancements at OCTO to speed up digital service delivery, shore up our core infrastructure and further enhance our cybersecurity risk management approach to protecting our people, data and systems.

For the third year in a row, the price of technology has increased at a rate faster than any previous year, including some costs increasing by 9% compared to 3 and 4% in past years. Even more of the OCTO budget is taken up by nondiscretionary spending on licensing for major enterprise systems and software. We worked to determine what services we could do without and which we could consolidate, to absorb the increasing licensing costs. OCTO’s proposed budget for FY23 is $81M in local funds, $12.2M in special purpose funds and $39.4M in capital dollars. While this budget looks like a 30% reduction due to the OCFO’s decision to budget for the intradistrict funds we depend on in our customers’ budgets, our base budget remains intact. With $40M in new investments, plus follow-on formula and grant funds from the infrastructure bill, Mayor Bowser’s Fair Shot budget is a big step forward to helping our government keep up with resident, business and visitor expectations.

These investments align with top-of-mind priorities of my peers in state governments across the country. According to the annual survey of state CIOs, cybersecurity remains the top priority for the ninth year running and enterprise architecture makes the list for the very first time. The NASCIO Executive Director Doug Robinson points out: “It is no surprise that digital government, broadband and legacy modernization are ranked as high priorities by state CIOs. The past two years have highlighted their importance to governors, state CIO customers and the citizens they serve.”

I also like to make sure we are learning from other city governments, as well – and recently had the opportunity to catch up with the Vienna, Austria CIO and the former CTO of New York City - and share where we are and what is top of mind as we work to further transform government into the tech-enabled service delivery operation the public has come to expect. While we all agree there is much work to be done, what is most refreshing to learn is that we are continuing to move in the right direction here in DC and our priorities are all tightly aligned – we all need 3 resilient, efficient and scalable solutions to accelerate digitalization and improve service delivery, so the agencies we support can provide even more fair shots to even more DC residents.

Mayor Bowser continues to recognize this need – for quick and continuous innovation within government – and by combining the CTO role with that of the Assistant City Administrator, we are working to bring the power of technology to our internal service functions. With technology advancements, our people, facilities and procurement processes can be even better automated, optimized and scaled as we prepare to find ways to build back better with President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments. We are excited to engage residents, workers and businesses in the process, which Mayor Bowser kicked off last week by announcing the leadership team of the DC Build Back Better Infrastructure Taskforce. Visit infrastructure.dc.gov to share your ideas with us and get involved.

CYBER & IT OPERATIONS

Humans are always present in technology at some point, whether developing, configuring, or simply using it — and it’s within our nature as humans to make mistakes and, similarly, we can’t always anticipate everything that might be exploited in something that we’ve built. Turns out there are other humans constantly looking for those missteps, finding ways to best systems and their fellow humans to take advantage, steal or embarrass.

We have worked over the past few years to put in place the people, processes and systems to better analyze, prevent and mitigate the likelihood of a mistake having a serious impact to our people, data and systems, including:

  • Continuing to find new and better ways to retain and attract the skills needed to maintain and grow the cyber team we need today and tomorrow. We know that a cyber security talent gap exists and will likely continue – even with funding. We know that demand far out strips supply, particularly in this region. We are working on establishing apprenticeships, summer internships and building out a cyber skills pipeline not just for government jobs.
  • Drafting a risk management framework to effectively assess, mitigate, and monitor risks; and better define security processes and procedures to address them. We have published updated IT policies and are about to initiate an annual review of them with agency CIOs. Agency tech teams, third party vendors and our team at OCTO can and should ensure compliance with these policies on current systems as well as when building or buying new systems.
  • Standing up new tools and systems to better analyze the events that take place on our network is going to be a continuous cycle as technology changes and improves. Investments over the past few years have allowed us to move and modernize our data centers, better understand the growing number of events happening across the network, automate and rapidly adjust policies on traffic coming into our network and improve network access controls.

The cyber investments in Mayor Bowser’s Fair Shot budget allow us to continue this work:

  • $2.35M to continue to improve our access controls by implementing a new Zero Trust Remote Access solution and a new endpoint security solution
  • $1.15M to continue to build out our risk management framework, including assessing all current assets for their risk to the network and the ability to help agencies with the riskiest systems on the network fix, modernize or remove those systems.
  • $3.2M to continue to ensure agencies’ critical systems have disaster recovery plans and continuity of operations failover platforms
  • $8M to begin an eight-year cycle to replace outdated network equipment to maintain critical data and voice services
  • $19M to replace legacy devices and equipment impacting almost one-third of our network for the Reeves Center relocation
  • $2.5M to build an IT Service Management system to track all technology assets, costs and service needs to better determine the true cost of IT and find efficiencies and/or economies of scale opportunities across DC Government

These fair shot investments will allow OCTO to create a more resilient and efficient IT foundation, ensuring data is integrated and processed more securely across environments.

DIGITAL SERVICES

As discussed at our performance hearing, OCTO launched new digital products and services from ideation to production throughout 2021, often against tight timelines. Agile product development proved to be more crucial than ever, and is the foundation for the new Digital Services division, a team with the expertise to co-design solutions that will put the user first, empowering agencies through technology to deliver services equitably and efficiently for DC residents, businesses, and visitors.

By investing $12.6 million in this new digital services focus, Mayor Bowser is investing in the people and technology to make our government simpler, fairer, and faster. Our Digital Services team has been focused on eliminating complexity, duplication, and obsolete technology by investing in solutions to scale and accelerate digitalization, enabling faster, smarter decisions – improving service delivery and, ultimately, customer satisfaction.

Mayor Bowser’s investments will help us keep up with the look and feel of the consumer tech – the Amazon effect, if you will – we find so easy to use at home. But in order to get there, we have some work to do across agencies and departments that historically haven’t always had to work together:

  • Step 1: Streamline business processes and data needs: On the operations side of government, we need business leaders to streamline business processes, evaluate data needs and see if we can combine, share or cut down on some of those data demands we make of the public.
  • Step 2: Crystalize user expectations and their journeys: We then need to make sure we are learning from the public about how they expect to find information about government services and programs online, so we can better anticipate those needs and organize our online offerings accordingly. That content will need to be sometimes brought together from different agencies and sometimes drafted anew.
  • Step 3: Find the right tech tools: Only after the last two steps are accomplished, can our technologists come in to help determine the tools needed to ensure the data and process flows in the most efficient and user-friendly way.

Our first public-facing proof of concept of this team will be a business portal. We are working in partnership with DCRA to provide business owners a single destination to get all the support they need to start and manage a business in DC and are looking forward to a launch in June. We continue to show other agencies the partnership we have created with DCRA, so even more agencies begin taking the outlined transformation steps, so they are ready to go when our team begins work on their next product.

These are some of Mayor Bowser’s investments in the FY23 budget that will help bring about our government’s digital transformation:

  • $619K to modernize our middleware platform to help agencies better integrate and use their data, phasing out older, legacy, and non-enterprise service offerings that create duplicative and uncontrolled IT costs.
  • $1M to rethink and redesign DC.gov so we won’t have to wade through the alphabet soup of agency websites to find the services that we need – and instead all requests most commonly made by a business, or a resident, or a guardian are all in one place.
  • $5M to expand our digital services work beyond our first project – a business portal – to a resident portal. Working to create an efficient and easy-to-use experience that provides users the right information at the right time through the medium they desire.
  • $1.5M for our new Digital Enablement Team to focus on empowering government staff to use new and existing technology to improve the way we support DC residents, businesses and visitors. Building a new Knowledge Center to empower agencies to use digital tools to work smarter and faster.

We aren’t just bringing this human-centered design approach to our public-facing products, but also to those that are most widely used by our government colleagues:

  • $2.1M to improve the backend and frontend of our human resources system – improving the user interface for HR advisors and employees
  • $6.4M to replace on premise procurement system with new state-of-the-art cloud solution that will streamline procurement

TECH TOGETHER DC

Most importantly, for our entire city to take advantage of our digital offerings and others, we need to ensure that everyone has access to the internet. Are residential internet connections alone still enough to meet the needs of residents? Should we be finding a way to create ubiquitous internet service throughout Washington, DC? These questions and more were top of mind as Mayor Bowser’s Tech Together DC partners discussed eliminating the digital divide. Now those same partners and more will come together to think about the infrastructure law through Mayor Bowser’s Build Back Better Infrastructure Task Force – as we await grant guidelines for most of the federal government funding. The benefit of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to use federal funds to try out a new idea is that we won’t have to take away from other critical services and programs we must pay for using local dollars. While you will see the digital inclusion line in our local dollars zeroed out, this is because all agencies have gone through a time-consuming exercise to determine what we could use federal funds to pay for – and as those federal funds run out, we will work to add back in the operational needs into our local budget. These federal dollars will allow us to pursue broadband expansion and create a state broadband and digital equity office to lead efforts to close the digital divide. We look forward to sharing more as the task force makes their recommendations and the federal funding guidelines are finalized.

CONCLUSION

We appreciate the opportunity to share Mayor Bowser’s FY23 fair shot investments and plans for continuous improvement and look forward to continuing to work with the Committee. This concludes my presentation. I’m happy to address your questions at this time.