This year further brought IT to the forefront of many organizations’ strategies in 2021, but as Federal chief information officers (CIOs) look to 2022, strengthening their agency’s workforce and cybersecurity posture are their big priorities for the year ahead.

During a Dec. 21 event hosted by Federal News Network, Federal CIOs outlined what their biggest priorities are for 2022, with supporting the workforce being one of the major priorities after a year that proved remote and hybrid work is here to stay.

“We want to keep the same balance between supporting our users in the remote workforce because we fully expect … that 2022, and probably beyond, will continue to be us working in some kind of a hybrid, remote work environment. I think it is here to stay,” said Raj Iyer, CIO at the U.S. Army.

“What that means is we need to continue to focus on giving our users the tools and the capabilities they need to continue to be productive in this kind of hybrid workforce environment,” he emphasized.

Iyer said the Army is looking to mature technologies and get to a virtual desktop environment for its users. It also hopes to add more bring your own device (BYOD) solutions, but wants to ensure all of the solutions it’s procuring “are absolutely safe and secure.”

Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, assistant commissioner and CIO at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, also said secure technology is a priority for his agency in 2022.

“Just making sure that we deploy things securely with our mission applications and service of capabilities that our agents and officers need in a remote environment while being secure [and] so we deploy at the speed of mission, is what we talk about,” Bhagowalia said. “Those capabilities are really important.”

Bhagowalia also emphasized the need for agencies to focus on their workforce in 2022 after the pandemic continued to affect people’s lives in 2021.

“Focus on the people. People have gone through a lot with COVID, the age of COVID … How do we make sure that they can work remotely, and as Raj mentioned, while securely as well,” Bhagowalia said.

“You’ve got to give them the tools but we also know that the threat vectors and the supply chain vectors – including our industry partners, because they also have a threat and we’ve got to make sure that they can deliver software – but if they’re remote, we’re going to see how that’s coming in,” he said.

Enabling a secure workforce is also one of the top priorities for Keith Jones, CIO at the Department of State. Jones said that in 2022 his agency will look to “enabling enterprise technology and our workforce.”

“Make enterprise cybersecurity foundational across the department’s infrastructure, the systems, and part of its culture across our workforce,” Jones said of his goals for 2022. “I think as we look at zero trust, establishing our zero trust roadmaps, efforts on cybersecurity sprints that we’re doing, continuing our improvement around cyber hygiene, and mitigating any vulnerabilities – that’s really important.”

Another agency looking at zero trust for 2022 is the Department of Justice (DoJ). Deputy CIO Kevin Cox said the transition to zero trust will be DoJ’s biggest modernization project for the upcoming year.

“Our number one priority is the overall zero trust rollout,” Cox said. “The three legs of that – which is the actual implementation in the build-out of the zero trust architecture, building out that centralized identity provider, and then getting the endpoint detection and response in place – that’s such a big initiative for us because it touches all parts of our network, all parts of our mission areas.”

Cox added that his agency also will be very careful in its zero trust rollout, so as not to “disrupt our important mission work,” he said.


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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.