Excited to see the Biden-Harris Administration launch the U.S. Digital Corps!

As a brand new two-year federal fellowship for early-career technologists, the U.S. Digital Corps will give the next generation a chance to make an impact in important areas, like covid response, economic recovery, cybersecurity, and streamlining government services.

There are great opportunities for experienced tech talent to serve in term-limited roles in government, like the U.S. Digital Service, the Defense Digital Service, 18F, and Presidential Innovation Fellows. I had the privilege of helping start and scale the Presidential Innovation Fellows in the Obama White House — which was subsequently…

FedRAMP Marketplace

Some of the best policy implementation ideas come from the trenches.

In the case of FedRAMP — the standardized approach to federal cloud security — I think the federal government would benefit from hearing from software vendors that have recently gone through (or are currently going through) the FedRAMP authorization process.

That’s why I’ve worked with a number of current and alumni Insight Partners portfolio companies to co-author a whitepaper, with concrete ideas about how to make FedRAMP better.

I’ll admit to having mixed feelings on FedRAMP. The idea of a single authorization is appealing — if it can truly…

As the CEO of a fast-growing scale-up software company, why on earth would you want to start a government affairs function? As one CEO asked me, why would I want to hire a high-priced person to just play golf all day?

Hidden in that dismissive and unfair comment, there is a kernel of truth — many of our software CEOs don’t understand government affairs. For many CEOs with numerous other priorities, Government Affairs (GA) seems like an additional cost center, with unclear predictability of succeeding — and it has a reputation of being relationship-driven.

And yet, entrepreneurs of growing companies…

(and why we should loosen TMF repayment requirements)

I have gone full cliché during pandemic: color-coordinated books in new bookcases, Peloton almost every day, and dropping 45 pounds.

To answer the most common question, I lost weight by mostly sticking to a prepared diet — though regular exercise (when the bike finally showed up), has been good for the mental health too.

After appearing on Government Matters last Thursday evening, a friend of mine texted me “Skinny Budget from Skinny Sinai.”

What is a skinny budget? The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) releases a budget every year — but…

Are Agile and DevSecOps — ways to iteratively build and deploy software faster and better — overhyped?

I don’t think so. Agile and DevSecOps have changed the way startups and large organizations get features into production faster, better meeting the needs of customers. When done well, it means better product velocity, and reducing waste.

In government, we desperately need software and digital services that meet the needs of our public servants and Americans they serve. This isn’t rocket science. The engineering practices in big tech, finance, and rapidly growing scaleups have shown that agile and DevSecOps work.

At Insight Partners

A scene at the national Veterans Day celebration on November 11, 2018, in Washington, D.C. — VA Photo, James Lucas

[Note: Marina Nitze and Charles Worthington have been clients and guest speakers in Harvard’s DPI-663 since the beginning of the class in 2016.]

When Marina Nitze joined the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as its new Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in 2013, she was determined to make VA work better for veterans. One significant barrier: the agency’s digital services. The maze of websites VA operated was challenging to navigate and too often featured information about VA leadership or organizational structure instead of information Veterans needed about the benefits and services they had earned.

In a new Harvard Belfer Center…

This week, on Government Matters, host Francis Rose interviewed me about “color of money” pilots for software acquisition in the Defense Department.

Under Secretary Ellen Lord — the Defense Department’s top acquisition official—is working with Congress to test the idea of a single type of software money, instead of separate research, procurement, and sustainment funding streams. They are picking both software-intensive weapons systems and traditional business systems to pilot, with the goal of showing Congress that this is a better way to fund software. …

A class photo at the beginning of the semester, with students, clients, and teaching team

This past spring semester I faced my first crisis of confidence as an instructor.

(It was my fifth year teaching DPI-663: Tech and Innovation in Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, a milestone I’m proud to reach.)

In the span of one week in March, COVID-19 forced many of my students to leave Boston, transforming my field lab into an online class. As I sat at my desk typing out a mid-semester course announcement, I couldn’t help but wonder if we should even continue the class.

I wondered if the work of DPI-663 even mattered anymore, especially given the suffering…

As a former senior federal official, I’m guilty of focusing on startups. The allure of the scrappy startup entrepreneur — especially if she is mission-focused — is irresistible.

Federal executives and CIOs are right to explicitly focus on including them in new initiatives — to support emerging technologies and inspire fresh thinking. In the Obama Administration, we invited them to White House policy roundtables, showcased them as examples of job-creators, and designed policies to promote high-ambition entrepreneurship.

But most venture-capital-backed startups aren’t financially successful or capable of supporting enterprise or government customers. …

Government Matters interview (source: https://govmatters.tv/cio-councils-recommendations-for-the-it-workforce/)

Last week, I spoke with Francis Rose of Government Matters, about the new report by the Federal CIO Council about the Federal IT Workforce.

I think the Federal CIOs nailed it. And unlike most government reports, it’s quite brief.

The report outlines the challenge of the graying IT workforce, which I’ve also discussed previously on Government Matters. Over 2/3rds of the IT workforce is over 40 years old. In the VA, for example, roughly 1% of the tech workforce is under 30 years old. And the problem has been getting worse, over the past decade, under both Administrations.

The problem…

Nick Sinai

Senior Advisor at Insight Partners; Adjunct Faculty at Harvard; former US Deputy CTO at White House

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