Modernizing Commerce Workforce | New Leadership at FAS | Digital Transformation at VA



Modernizing Workforce: Strategies at the Commerce Department

Jessica Palatka , Chief Human Capital Officer at the Commerce Department, discusses strategies to modernize their workforce. The conversation highlights the low representation of Generation Z in the department, the diverse global workforce, and upcoming retirement trends. Palatka emphasizes the impact of the pandemic on retirement plans and the importance of strategic human capital management, focusing on attracting new talents and addressing evolving skill requirements.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Generation Z Underrepresentation: The Commerce Department's workforce has a notably low proportion (1.6%) of Generation Z employees.
  2. Retirement Wave & Workforce Stability: A significant percentage of the workforce is nearing retirement, though the pandemic has temporarily stabilized this trend.
  3. Evolving Skill Needs & Talent Attraction: The department is actively reshaping its workforce, focusing on new skills like artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, and attracting younger talent.
Innovation and Leadership in Federal Acquisition

Francis Rose discussed the upcoming leadership change at the General Services Administration's Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) with Soraya Correa, Executive Director of the NCMA Contract Management Institute. They delve into the legacy of Sonny Hashmi at FAS, emphasizing his innovation-driven approach. Correa highlights the growing trend of innovation labs across various agencies, underscoring the critical role of leadership commitment in fostering a culture of innovation and acceptance of failure as a pathway to success.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Leadership in Innovation: The commitment of top leadership is pivotal for successful innovation in government agencies.
  2. Role of Technology in Acquisition: Advancements in AI and other technologies are seen as beneficial for enhancing the effectiveness of the acquisition process.
  3. Focus of Contract Management Institute: The institute aims to advance contract management standards and professional development through research, analysis, and collaboration.
Embracing the Red: The Path Forward for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Digital Transformation

Kurt DelBeneAssistant Secretary for Information and Technology and CIO at the Department of Veterans Affairs discusses the ongoing digital transformation at the VA and how the organization is embracing a transparent and inclusive approach to addressing challenges and ensuring consistent progress.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Embracing Challenges Together: Kurt emphasizes the importance of a culture where teams “embrace the red” – openly discussing challenges instead of hiding them. This transparent approach promotes collective problem-solving and encourages individuals to take ownership of issues, fostering continuous improvement.
  2. Balancing Vision with Agility: While the VA is dealing with pressing technological challenges, Kurt believes in an incremental approach. He highlights the importance of having a clear vision connected to a multi-year roadmap, while simultaneously embracing agile development. This balance ensures that the VA remains flexible in its strategies and methods, allowing it to adapt to changing circumstances and continuously refine its efforts.
  3. Prioritizing User Experience: The digital front door of the VA serves millions of veterans, and the goal is to provide a seamless experience that matches, if not exceeds, what users expect from private sector services. Kurt mentions the success of and the introduction of mobile apps that have received positive feedback. The aim is to continue expanding these digital services to cater to the diverse needs of veterans.

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