AJ Marini

I also have a couple thoughts about this:

1) Not all “old technologies” need to be replaced just for the sake of replacing it. Take, for example, mainframe and COBOL programs. Some of that code has been around longer than I’ve been alive, but it is the PERFECT technology for what CBP needs. If I thought that by using new technologies, they’d get access to a whole host of extra functionality that they’d actually use, then I’d be all for modernization. But modernizing for the sake of modernizing is more than just silly, it’s irresponsible and wasteful.

2) Despite what I said in my first point, I would love to see my agency start to embrace some of the newer technologies, especially as it relates to cloud computing and collaboration. But before you can actually expect that to happen, two things have to be addressed first:
a) Rolling out a new technology without causing Armageddon: At least with my experience in CBP/DHS, it is not uncommon for a group tasked with introducing a new technology to go forward without effectively testing compatibility. And part of that isn’t even their fault, because there are so many applications of varying scales that are used enterprise-wide, and then there’s still the databases and ad-hoc programs put together by people in the field. While I’m sure they serve their purposes well, the sheer number of applications that you have to ensure compatibility with to roll out a new technology is staggering.
b) Adoption/education is a huge problem, and many of the processes that currently exist in government are so convoluted that the current technologies are woven into them like some sick spider’s web. How do you educate tens of thousands of users? How to you encourage adoption across an entire country, and hundreds of ports of entry? I’m experiencing this first-hand with the application that I work on, and despite my best efforts, I still occasionally find out that entire ports haven’t migrated over yet. It’s a difficult issue to tackle, and one that I’m sure has been discussed in this forum before.

All-in-all, I’d love to see government as a whole embrace new technologies and find places to take advantage of some of the incredible new capabilities being handed to them by today’s technologists. But only if there’s a real need for that kind of change, not just for the sake of the change itself.