Federal CIO Clare Martorana and General Services Administration (GSA) head Robin Carnahan both delivered strong pitches this week to prospective Federal IT employees by emphasizing the importance of the government’s citizen service mission.

In a September 30 blog post, Martorana recapped Federal government actions since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic to speed the development of better digital services for citizens to meet their needs during the public health crisis.

“I’m proud to report we rose to the occasion in many ways,” the Federal CIO said. “Federal agencies partnered, shared lessons learned, and bureaucracy busted across silos to innovate rapidly, test new solutions, and accomplish things in days or weeks versus months or even years.”

Drawing on several of the policy priorities she has outlined since taking the helm earlier this year, Martorana emphasized the importance of enterprise-wide improvements in digital service delivery to improve citizen service and highlighted the Technology Modernization Fund’s award of $311 million of funding this week to improve data and privacy protection and to move forward security directives stemming from the White House’s cybersecurity executive order issued in May.

“As Federal CIO, I’m empowering Chief Information Officers across Government to place our customers – our citizens – at the center of everything we do,” she said.

“This means we must understand what our customers need so we can adjust our delivery methods to improve our service,” Martorana continued. “It also requires us to organize around users and services instead of information systems – and to partner with technologists across Government when we need help. We can deliver digital products that delight our customers. With each new product we launch, our Federal workforce can do less manual work and focus on the reason they came to Government: to serve the American public.”

To make that happen, Martorana said, “we need tech experts at all stages of their career path to join us on this journey. Whether you’re an early-career or senior technologist, you can make an impact for millions of our citizens.”

“When you say yes to serving the American people, you directly improve the way services are delivered to your friends, family, and neighbors,” she said, adding that a diverse Federal IT workforce is essential to the mission. “We have a mandate. We have the support. All we need is you. We the people means us – you and me. I hope you will consider saying yes.”

Separately, GSA Administrator Carnahan urged women in technology to consider public service as a career during a September 30 keynote address to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference.

“Right now, less than a quarter of the technologists in the federal government are women,” Carnahan said. “That’s just not good enough, and we want to do better.”

“Our country needs your talent and energy at this historic moment to help reimagine the way government and democracy can deliver for the American people,” she said.

“The problems we face today are big, they didn’t materialize overnight and it’s going to take your creativity, your fresh set of eyes, and your technical skills to reimagine the future and then build the solutions that the American people deserve,” Carnahan said.

She also urged attendees at the conference to consider applying to the U.S. Digital Corps, which aims to recruit into Federal government service Americans with backgrounds in software engineering, data science, design, cybersecurity, and other tech areas. The program will be housed in GSA’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS) organization and offers two-year government fellowships for early-career technologists.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.