How Collaborative IT Consolidation Empowers DOI Employees

Consolidation is one of the many buzzwords we hear often in the government IT community, whether it’s data centers, websites, services or applications.

But consolidation is about far more than technology. It’s about the collaboration that happens behind the scenes to ensure employees can access what they need to do their jobs and serve citizens.

“For all the technology and projects, it’s the human factor that makes it all worthwhile,” said Larry Gillick, Deputy Director of Digital Strategy at the Interior Department.

Speaking at GovLoop’s “Gov Trends Virtual Summit: Looking Ahead to 2018,” Gillick kicked off his keynote speech with insights into Interior’s current and future collaborative consolidation efforts and the importance of supporting innovative ideas regardless of whether they originate at headquarters or in field offices.

The department has been on a mission to move to Drupal Platform-as-a-Service to drastically improve efficiencies of its websites and digital tools. To give you a sense of the scope of Interior’s consolidation efforts consider that the department has nine or 10 bureaus (depending on whom you ask), thousands of offices and hundreds of separate web properties, including doi.gov, blm.gov and most of those sites are set up independently.

Some offices are using Dreamweaver or Ektron and others are using HTML or Oracle. So far, Interior has migrated six of the hundreds of websites to the new platform. There are also specific internal councils looking at key issues, including common standards and assessments and better purchasing and usage of email and social media outreach tools.

The good news is there’s no shortage of good ideas at Interior to improve efficiencies. But the key to ensuring the best ideas rise to the top is accepting that not all good ideas come from the top.

“Sometimes other folks are more efficient than the center,” Gillick said. What if some bureaus and offices are already operating efficiently and could serve as models for other internal organizations, including headquarters? Or as Gillick put it: What is someone else has the better mousetrap?  What if in an effort to increase efficiencies, you are actually pushing people in a direction that is not helpful for them?

Using Interior as an example, Gillick shared that one of the bureaus created an indefinite- delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract for design services. The contract has a high spending cap, which means it will be available for use for some time, and it’s open for any Interior office or bureau to use.

“Sometimes the best and the most efficient work originates elsewhere,” Gillick said, pointing to the IDIQ contract as an example.

To ensure that innovation is recognized and encouraged at all levels of the agency, Gillick made these promises:

  • I promise I will always build a better mousetrap before requiring that someone else us it.
  • I will champion better ideas and processes — no matter where they come from.
  • I will require bureaus and office to use contracts, only if I am proud of the work.

He predicted that fulfilling these promises will yield high returns for employees and the larger agency. Putting these promises into practice will encourage employees to choose the more efficient path rather than applying a principle blindly. It will also empower, rather than disempower employees in the field and others who do the best work. The end result, he said, is happiness because people are acknowledged for their achievements and emboldened to put their good ideas into practice.

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