Chief information officers (CIO) from the Departments of Justice (DOJ), Energy (DoE), and Agriculture (USDA) discussed their agencies’ best IT and security moments of 2022, and their top priorities going into the new year.

During a Dec. 20 Federal News Network event, the panel of CIOs talked everything from implementing the executive order on cybersecurity, to innovation in artificial intelligence and machine learning this past year.

At the DoE, CIO Ann Dunkin said four areas the agency is “really excited about” from 2022 are service delivery, cybersecurity, innovation, and collaboration.

“Cybersecurity is not the most important thing we do, but if we don’t do it well, we can’t do anything else,” Dunkin said. “It is what enhances our ability to deliver the mission by keeping DoE safe and secure and we’ve been putting a lot of energy into that.”

For 2023, Dunkin said her team’s top priorities will be to focus on the workforce and furthering innovation.

“We’re really doubling down on building our workforce,” Dunkin said. “Just like everyone else in the Federal government, we have a lot of people who are approaching retirement age.”

She said the agency’s “most exciting thing in workforce development” is the paid summer internship they offer that builds a pipeline for underrepresented students to come work for the department after college.

She also added, “We’ve really doubled down on our innovation efforts. We’re working with the White House to expand our work.” Dunkin said this includes experimenting with AI.

Gary Washington, CIO at the USDA, noted several accomplishments he was proud to have worked on over the course of 2022. He specifically highlighted what the agency did with service delivery for employees and customers, strengthening their cybersecurity posture, digitizing services, and bulking up the workforce, among other work in the innovation, data, and modernization areas.

“We have a lot going on,” Washington said. “We have a very large presence across America and there’s no shortage of work at USDA.”

Washington said going into the new year his team’s top priorities will be continuing to improve service delivery for the American public and building a strong workforce.

“We’re very focused on improving service delivery and the experience of our customers,” he said. The CIO wants USDA customers to have the same smooth experience with the agency’s digital services as they would going to an ATM machine.

He continued, “The second priority would be . . . IT workforce,” he said. Washington highlighted that the agency has been reaching out to minority serving institutions to get more diverse students involved at the Federal level.

At the DoJ, CIO Melinda Rogers highlighted the work the agency has done in IT transformation – including their journey to the cloud and strengthening their cybersecurity posture.

“Importantly, [we] streamlined and standardized IT in the backend so that we have a cleaner infrastructure to maximize support and also to be able to tighten our cybersecurity posture,” she said. “It took time, effort, dedication, and collaboration and cooperation to actually make that happen.”

For 2023, Rogers said the DoJ’s top priorities are workforce and identity management.

“We need to continuously have a pipeline of individuals that are willing to support that mission – that are interested in supporting the mission – and we can certainly give them exposure to very interesting projects that are being really supportive across all of DoJ,” she said.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.