Tony Scott calls IT workforce drain a ‘creepingʼ crisis bigger than Y2K

Written by Carten Cordell 10/20/17 on Fedscoop

The White Houseʼs final IT modernization report will soon be released following
nearly 100 comments from industry stakeholders, but former U.S. CIO Tony
Scott is most concerned about a pair of issues that didnʼt receive much
attention in the plan: talent and culture.

The American Technology Council and Office of American Innovationʼs draft
report did address a bevy of issues surrounding IT modernization, but the White
House technology teams must also examine how the government will replace its
retiring technology workforce, especially the expertise surrounding maintaining
aging legacy systems, Scott said t the Consortium for IT Software Qualityʼs
Cyber Resilience Summit, part of Washington DC CyberWeek.

“I think itʼs a crisis thatʼs bigger than Y2K. Itʼs just creeping up on us slowly,
month by month, year by year,” he said, referring to the phenomenon of the late
1990s that potentially threatened to cripple global networks due to a bug in how
computer commonly coded dates.

“But there is a point in the future where thereʼs just not going to be the
knowledgeable resources to keep the old stuff going on the one hand, and then
not enough resources to migrate off of those old things on the other hand,” said
Scott, now leading his own IT consultancy, the TonyScottGroup, LLC. “Itʼs
something that I think is a problem now and we need to really move aggressively
to get it done.”

Scott added that he supports Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, in his plan to create a
Cyber National Guard that brings private sector technology professionals to the
federal government on a temporary but continuous basis to provide expertise on
securing and innovating networks, much like the Army Naitonal Guard.

Hurd has promised forthcoming legislation codifying the Cyber National Guard
after he secures passage of the Modernizing Government Technology Act,
which passed the Senate as an amendment to the 2018 National Defense
Authorization Act.

The other issue Scott said OAI and ATC must address is how it will build the
governmentʼs future IT ecosystem and gear it toward user experience, warning
that it would be a mistake to just try and replace the old system without
considering how to deploy it.

“It feels to me still like a lot of people have an orientation around, ‘Letʼs just liftand-
shift these old legacy things that we have to a more modern platform,” he
said. “Even if we were successful in doing that, we would still have the little
siloes of information, little siloes of government, little siloes of architecture and
so on.”

Scott said he favored a customer-based design for the federal governmentʼs IT
systems, identifying how to deliver on agency mission through design thinking.

“Whenever you throw [organizational] chart at a problem and itʼs the basis for
the technical design of what you are doing, I think you are starting in the wrong
place,” he said.

Acting U.S. CIO Margie Graves said Wednesday at CyberTalks that the White
House was incorporating insights derived from some 98 public comments into a
final report that it would publish “very shortly.”

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