Remarks as prepared for delivery
Good Morning. Thank you all for being here today and to the team at Federal Computer Week for inviting me. I am honored to speak to you about the critical importance citizen engagement plays in government, and share some of our accomplishments at the Department of Justice.
As federal workers, our job is to support our fellow citizens through the missions of our respective agencies. U.S. citizens don’t necessarily care how the government is organized, but they do expect an effective government. As federal workers we all play a part in meeting citizen expectations and collectively we enable progress towards a seamless citizen experience.
This progress is essential and comes at a time when citizen expectations are higher than ever. Technology is rapidly changing; our workforce is more mobile than ever; data is growing exponentially; cyber-attacks have become more sophisticated; and budgets remain constrained. Because of this, it is important for me to stay connected with my fellow citizens and listen to their challenges and ideas.
I’d like to share a story that comes to mind when I think about “citizen engagement”. On April 20, 2010, we experienced the largest marine oil spill in history when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank two days later. A gaping hole in the Deepwater Horizon spewed 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. At the time of the incident, I was the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I remember receiving a phone call from an 8-year old girl who wanted to share her grandfather’s solution to seal the hole – fill it with used golf balls!
In the end, although BP chose to plug the oil leak using a tightly fitted cap instead of golf balls, this is a great example of how our fellow citizens can, and should be able to, reach people in leadership positions and share their ideas.
I’d like to talk about how we’re making this happen both across government and at DOJ. On December 20th, the President signed the 21st Century Integrated Data Experience Act, also known as the IDEA Act. The legislation requires public-facing agency websites to have a consistent look and comply with the web standards developed by the General Services Administration. The IDEA Act requires federal agencies to maintain online and mobile-friendly versions of in-person or paper-based government processes to the extent possible — promoting digital forms and e-signatures. I am encouraged by this Act because it will push federal agencies to deliver the kind of customer service that citizens have come to expect from the private sector.
To further the commitment of improving government, the Office of Management and Budget released the President’s Management Agenda, more commonly known as the PMA. The PMA provides a long-term vision for federal government modernization to enable agencies to better deliver mission outcomes, excellent service, and effective stewardship of taxpayer dollars. The PMA acknowledges that on average, government services lag behind the private sector with regard to citizen satisfaction and made “Improving Customer Experience with Federal Services” a cross-agency priority goal. It calls for federal agencies to do four things:
- Transform the customer experience by improving the usability and reliability of our federal government’s critical digital services;
- Create measureable improvements in customer satisfaction by using the principles and practices proven by leading private-sector organizations;
- Increase trust in the Federal Government by improving the experience citizens and businesses have with Federal services whether online, in-person, or via phone; and
- Leverage technology to break down barriers and increase communication between Federal agencies and the citizens they serve.
To accomplish this we need to institutionalize the skills and practices necessary for federal entities to provide a good customer experience, especially for our most high-impact and citizen-facing services. To that point, OMB issued first-of-its-kind guidance, named “Managing Customer Experience and Improving Service Delivery”, to establish a more consistent and deliberate approach to improving government services. While this guidance is targeted to a select number of government agencies, all federal organizations can benefit from alignment to its principles.
I joined the Department five years ago to serve their mission which is to protect the American public, promote safety, enforce laws, counter the threat of terrorism and ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.
The Department consists of 43 component agencies ranging from very small to very large and familiar components like the FBI, DEA, U.S. Attorneys’ offices, and Bureau of Prisons. While our mission is vast, you may be familiar with some of the topics, programs, and issues the Department handles on a daily basis. These include protecting national security, combatting human trafficking and the heroin and opioid crisis, prosecuting organized crime, and reducing violent crime– just to name a few.
The Department engages with the public in a number of ways, but one of the most visible is likely through our websites. DOJ has over 70 top level public domains, including the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW); the Bureau of Prisons’ Inmate Locator; and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request Portal. The National Sex Offender Public Website offers visitors two resources to perform sex offender searches; the NSOPW National Sex Offender Search, and a consolidated search tool that links users to public registry websites. The Inmate Locator allows family and loved ones to request a visit to an incarcerated person. The FOIA portal allows citizens to request information, including information on themselves from any agency in the federal government. In these last two examples, users are required to provide personal identifiable information. Consequently, security of these sites is extremely important. But we can’t stop there, 508 accessibility is also critical.
I’ve been a Federal CIO for the last twenty years and have often found that the public isn’t quite sure what a CIO does. Some people assume I am the gatekeeper for all information simply because the word “information” is in my title. And while my office does answer the Attorney General’s switchboard…that’s not my primary role.
As the DOJ CIO, my office’s mission is to serve, protect, and advance DOJ’s goals through information and technology services. My philosophy is that we must be brilliant at the basics while we drive information and technology services at the pace of American innovation. To do this, we must be agile in our service delivery and rapidly adopt innovative solutions for our customers. The majority of our customer base is external to the Department, but their needs and expectations are very similar to those of American citizens. One key example is the 18,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. For these organizations, we are a primary gateway to the law enforcement information housed at the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services. My office is actively working to migrate this gateway to a cloud-based common architecture which will lower overall cost and improve the quality, speed, and cybersecurity of these services.
To better serve our internal customers such as the DOJ Senior Management Offices, litigators, agents, and all our employees, the Department is modernizing the way users communicate and collaborate by implementing a highly secure, cloud-based email solution. This provides employees access to their email virtually anywhere, anytime. We are reducing the number of disparate email systems from twenty-three to one, and we have already migrated more than 70% of all DOJ mailboxes; saving the Department millions of dollars annually. Moving forward, we will enhance this solution for conferencing and document sharing; facilitating easier cross-component collaboration.
To provide an example of our support to our litigating customers, we are working with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, or EOIR, to modernize their Courts and Appeals System with a secure cloud-based platform to phase out paper filing and processing, and to retain all records and case-related documents in electronic format. When fully implemented, this will deliver a modern electronic case management capability that will help augment EOIR’s efforts in tackling the pending case backlog.
These few examples are just a glimpse at how technology is intertwined in our mission capabilities and our everyday lives. Emergent technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing, capture our imaginations. At the same time, they challenge our legacy capabilities and the ways in which we think about data, security, and privacy.
To help us manage these competing interests, my office will soon be releasing a new IT Strategy for FY 2019-2021 which outlines four goals to:
- Continuously improve service delivery;
- Effectively invest in technology;
- Protect critical mission assets; and
- Build innovative capabilities.
This strategy reflects our vision for information management and our plan for modernizing IT. The goals and strategies in the Strategic Plan will support the Department’s mission by protecting, advancing and optimizing DOJ’s information and technology.
Building upon the IT Strategy, just this week I released the Department’s Data Strategy, which establishes common methods, tools, and processes to manage, manipulate and share data across the organization. Timely access to reliable and useful information is critical to the successful execution of DOJ’s mission.
A Data Strategy is extremely important beyond DOJ and that is why the PMA has identified “Data, Accountability, and Transparency” as one of its three pillars. The Federal Data Strategy will consist of principles, practices, and actions to deliver a consistent and strategic approach for federal data stewardship, access, and use. In October of last year, the President signed the Geospatial Data Act into law, recognizing the essential role of geospatial data and technology. And most recently, the OPEN Government Data Act was signed into law, requiring federal agencies to make data public and to publish that data in an accessible format online.
The DOJ Data Strategy incorporates themes and principles from these important and customer focused Federal mandates and strategies. It will accelerate our capabilities by building an enterprise approach for data management, information sharing, and controlled access.
The Data Strategy will also serve as a framework that analytic platforms can be built upon. We will deploy prototype solutions as a shared model. DOJ will continue to provide innovative shared services and new enterprise analytic tools to help the organization make informed decisions and support mission activities. We will continue to support data analysis for law enforcement and litigators to obtain new insights.
It is these capabilities that will allow us to continue to advance our mission with the latest technologies while working towards a better customer experience. With the right security and privacy controls, we could augment services with analytics and machine learning – providing citizens with insights and services that are competitive with the experiences they can receive from the private sector and they should expect from a modern, digital Government.
Thank you. I believe I have time for a few questions.