In the aftermath of an unprecedented year riddled with a teleworking surge, election-year tension and—last but certainly not least—a global pandemic affecting every industry and organization in our nation, it’s safe to say that 2021 was welcomed with open arms.

2020 was complicated, scary, unpredictable and costly, among other things. Now almost halfway through 2021, federal agencies are still working to bounce back while continuing to pursue digital transformation initiatives that propel them further into the digital age—which, simply put, is easier said than done.

The pace of digital innovation has actually accelerated due to COVID-19 and federal workforces being forced to work from home seemingly overnight. In fact, 67% of federal, state and local governments say the pandemic accelerated their organizations’ hybrid cloud adoption by a year or more. Federal government agencies spent the better part of last year catching up, making things work quickly and pivoting for the short term. Now we begin the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2021 hopeful that agencies can inject strategy back into their daily operations and take a breath, slow down, and truly refine and perfect their digital transformation efforts for the future.

The past year showed us how important it is for federal agencies to have an effective and agile digital strategy. Even the slowest to adopt cloud and other digital initiatives were forced to innovate, and in many ways, that is one positive out of the otherwise dark year.

IT priorities in the second half of FY 2021 and beyond
Federal IT solutions and integration experts from Sirius Federal project that these four focus areas will be the top IT priorities for federal agencies as we enter the second half of the year.

Zero-trust security: Security has always been top of mind and hypercritical for our federal government. And with the rise in remote work causing IT teams to work harder to protect endpoints, and the recent SolarWinds breach making national headlines, security will continue to be at the forefront of federal IT priorities.

There is no denying that the new telework norm has opened the aperture for vulnerabilities and access-point threats. Approximately 61% of employees had trouble accessing their network during the first half of 2020, prompting them to consider alternative methods such as personal devices for access, and increasing the organization’s exposure to new risks. Foreign and domestic hackers will never stop trying to find and take advantage of government agencies’ vulnerabilities. As long as these threats exist—and they always will—agencies need to employ an effective, proactive zero-trust security program to counteract the imminent threats.

“Today’s IT climate is the perfect scenario to truly implement a zero-trust model,” said Jason Parry, senior vice president for Sirius Federal. “With zero trust, the user is the new perimeter. Agencies are better protected from threats coming from both outside and inside of their network.”

By granting specific permissions to users, you allow them to access only what they need on your network and deny everyone else. This enables you to have a stronger security posture for your agency in every click, transaction, email, web browser and function your end-users execute.

Cloud migration: The federal government is constantly looking for more efficient and responsive ways to deliver and maintain digital capability that also aligns to their mission. Many agencies are choosing a hybrid cloud strategy to further accelerate their digital transformation because it allows them to easily change direction quickly for peak agility and functionality. In the second half of 2021 and the foreseeable future, cloud will continue to be the new normal or standard. What is especially attractive for government agencies is how they can migrate at their own pace and follow a . The cloud continues to offer government agencies superior security, greater control and customization, scalability, speed and reliability.

Sirius Federal’s Bridge to the Cloud approach uses a proven cloud migration methodology to help agencies navigate every step of the cloud migration process—whether moving to a private, public or hybrid cloud.

Enabled and empowered end-users: Now more than ever, maintaining a productive and connected remote workforce is critical. It is a challenge for the federal sector to accomplish that while also maintaining the security and controls their agency requires. The majority of telework policies will remain in 2021, and it is imperative that agencies provide workforces a seamless link back to work functions and collaboration tools. Government entities are looking for solutions that help them build a connective roadmap for increased productivity, improved efficiency and added agility for their remote teams. Unified communications and end-user computing solutions are going to continue to dominate IT priorities for at least the remainder of this year.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML): The days of merely trying to keep up with the ever-evolving pace of the IT world are well behind us. In the second half of 2021 and beyond, federal agencies are shifting their strategic focus to getting ahead of the “next best thing” and pose themselves as a leading modernizer in the public sector. Emerging technologies like AI and ML will see a substantial push this year and in the future. According to the FY 2021 Immix report for civilian and DoD budget priorities, “Expanded teleworking has emphasized continued need for strong network bandwidth, mobile technology, remote authentication services and digitized business processes.” In the wake of COVID-19 and today’s digital operating model, federal agencies are realizing the critical need to move away from monolithic, outdated process and adopt a stronger digital-first strategy. AI and ML offer agencies across all levels of government new and innovative ways to do their jobs more effectively and deliver services quicker.

The future is bright
While the areas of focus for the second half 2021 won’t come as a shock to anyone—since they’re not too far from past years’ priorities—the sense of urgency paired with the enhanced rate of adoption and implementation speaks volumes for the digital acceleration we expect to see in federal agencies this year.

It is no secret the amount of strain the pandemic placed on the federal sector from not only a budget standpoint—but also a mission continuity and unified operability standpoint. The challenging events of 2020 set the stage for the foreseeable future in government IT. House Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Gerry Connolly recapped the latest FITARA scorecard in December 2020 by saying, “In the midst of a global pandemic, continued reliance on remote work, and an unprecedented and highly sophisticated cyber-attack by a foreign adversary – the importance of federal agencies’ effective use of IT is too great to ignore.”

In the federal space, digital modernization will play as important a role as ever in improving efficiency, enforcing maximum security and optimizing costs.

With over 25 years of experience working with the federal government, Sirius Federal can integrate with your IT teams to quickly design and implement real solutions to help your agency achieve its mission. Contact us to learn how we can help modernize your agency’s IT infrastructure.

Related Blog Posts

See All Blogs

Sirius Federal Named Cisco Federal Intelligence Partner of the Year at Cisco Partner Summit 2021

  Crofton, MD – 16 November 2021 — Sirius Federal, a Sirius Computer Solutions Company, has been named the Cisco Federal Intelligence Partner of the Year for the second time in three years. Cisco announced the winners during its annual partner…

How Proper Collaboration Tools Make or Break Long-Term Telework Plans for Federal Agencies

Effective collaboration tools can eliminate silos and accelerate missions. But getting to a modern and secure collaboration environment can be a daunting task for federal agencies, especially with today’s mobile workforce. In the year and a half since the onset…

Sirius Federal Helps Maryland Food Bank Fight Hunger Through Virtual Food Drive

Sirius Federal ran a virtual food drive during the month of September to support the Maryland Food Bank in its fight against hunger insecurities.

Sirius Federal Kicks Off America’s VetDogs Partnership

Sirius Federal recently kicked off our partnership with America’s VetDogs, a charity dedicated to providing service and guide dogs for veterans and first responders.

The Role AI Has in Redefining Federal Telehealth Practices

Federal telehealth practices use AI to uncover the best mix of human and machine communication, leading to more productive care and treatment.

White House Encourages Federal Agencies to Modernize Their Data Centers

Government agencies encouraged to modernize in response to cybersecurity threats.

The Need for Exhaustive Data Protection in the Federal Government

SolarWinds breach prompts federal courts to add new security procedures to protect highly sensitive court documents.

Key Ways Converged Infrastructure Can Help Your Agency Conquer Cloud Migration

Learn how converged infrastructure can help your agency ditch the silos and modernize your data center for today’s cloud world.

5 Tools to Help Federal Employees Return to Work Safely

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease across the country, federal agencies are slowly bringing employees back into the office. However, many employees who have spent several months working in a remote environment may be nervous about returning to the office,…

Using the CDM Program to Keep Federal Networks Secure No Matter Where Employees Work

As federal agencies deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on where and how employees work, federal CIOs that were already facing constraints securing their networks prior to the pandemic now have to contend with network security for the…

Remote, Hybrid, Onsite – Tools To Secure Federal Networks No Matter Where Teams Work

As COVID-19 restrictions ease, federal agencies are beginning to bring employees back into the office. Whether teams are returning to the office full time, continuing to work in a remote environment, or using a hybrid approach, the top priority is…

Sirius Federal Awarded ITES-SW2 Contract

Crofton, MD—September 9, 2020— Sirius Federal, a Sirius company, has been awarded the Information Technology Enterprise Solutions-Software 2 (ITES-SW2) contract. In addition to helping save time on procurement and cutting costs by consolidating their software purchases, the ITES-SW2 contract allows…

Sirius Federal Gives Back to the Community Through Virtual Food Drive

Philanthropy and community outreach have always been an integral part of Sirius Federal’s corporate culture. To support those in need in our communities, Sirius Federal is running a Virtual Food Drive during the month of September to support the Maryland…

Ignore the Workforce at Your IT Modernization Peril

Federal agencies are currently faced with the daunting task of modernizing billions of dollars’ worth of outdated technology. On the path to IT modernization success, the investment in technology represents only half the battle though — agencies also need to…

Sirius Federal Named Public Sector Partner of the Year and Federal Intelligence Partner of the Year at Cisco Partner Summit

This week, Sirius Federal was recognized for our leadership in the public sector by receiving two awards at the Cisco Partner Summit in Las Vegas, NV. Sirius Federal was named the Americas Geographical Region Public Sector Partner of the Year…

Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan that Keeps Pace with Technology

The fear of a disaster in your data center is what nightmares are made of for technology teams. Are the systems backed-up properly? Will we lose data? How much downtime will we incur? Does the team know what to do?…

Protecting your Agency from Phishing

As we spend an increasingly large percentage of our time online, we’ve become aware of the malicious tactics used to trick us into downloading malware or betraying our credentials. Even as our built-in threat detection improves, we risk letting it…

Choosing an IT Solution Provider that Keeps Projects on Track

Most of us have experienced a project that hasn’t gone quite as planned. Information wasn’t received at the right time, different teams had completely different interpretations of the requirements, or somebody didn’t realize they were responsible for a task. Little…

TechTarget: Big Blue Drives Collaboration Among IBM Business Partners

IBM is investing in resources and business processes to make it easier for IBM business partners to create alliances with each other. Following last month's IBM Think conference in San Francisco, Senior Director of Software Practice Charles Fullwood discusses the…

Deployment and Resident Engineers Deliver On-Site Solutions

At Sirius Federal, we provide solutions. From infrastructure management to cloud migration, we create custom answers to federal IT’s most pressing problems. But we believe strong, sustainable solutions involve more than just software and hardware. What agencies often need most…

WBJ: Here’s What it Takes for a Mid-Tier Maryland Contractor to Compete in Evolving Federal IT Marketplace

More than three-fourths of federal government agencies — about 77 percent, according to a Government Accountability Office report — will not meet their planned technology modernization goals by the end of the year. Our CEO, Mike Greaney, recently sat down…

The Rally Call for Digital Transformation Is Here: Are You Ready for the Journey?

Today, digital transformation has become the rallying cry for government organizations aiming to innovate and improve operations. The promise of digital transformation is profound: faster and more informed decision-making, improved customer insights, greater cost savings, more reliable products and services,…

3 Tactics to Avoid Insider Threats Posed by Third-Party Contractors

"The balance between too much security and too little is delicate. Overzealous access policies can bring efficiency and productivity to a screeching halt. But an overly lax approach can expose sensitive data to people who don’t need it and shouldn’t…

Improving Insider Threat Detection with Security Integration

With cyber-attacks like Nyetya and WannaCry dominating headlines over the last several months, you’d think malware would top the list of security pro’s biggest concerns. But you’d be wrong, according to the SANS Institute’s 2017 annual data security survey. While…

Unstructured Data: The Threat You Cannot See

In this article for Dark Reading, Sirius Federal software practice director Charles Fullwood examines why security teams needs to take a cognitive approach to the increasing volumes of data flowing from sources they don't control. Every day, IT security teams…

Expect security, cloud spending in 2018 Federal IT Budget

In recent interviews with TechTarget, industry leaders--including Sirius Federal's Greg Kushto--cited an uptick in federal IT procurement activity during the government's fiscal fourth quarter and expected FY 2018 to feature security and cloud investments. IT solution providers planning to pursue…

NextGov: How to Unleash Federal IT Workers as Changemakers

Written by Sirius Federal's vice president of client solutions Jason Parry, this article was originally published at www.NextGov.com. The public-sector workforce has always been plagued by stereotypes. To the layman, “government job” calls to mind images of a middle-aged bureaucrat,…

SearchITChannel: New tech, old virtues keep server virtualization going

"Server virtualization is well past the peak of the technology adoption curve, but SMB customers, open source technology and hybrid clouds keep demand going." —John Moore, SearchITChannel Server virtualization platforms have been around for ages and would seem to be old…

FedTech: How to Make the Most of the Federal Hiring Freeze

Although the freeze may constrain resources, it is also an opportunity to conduct an IT inventory, invest in training and prioritize projects. In this article for FedTech, writer Phil Goldstein addresses how federal agencies are handling the recently announced federal…

3 Opportunities for IT Teams Dealing With Federal Hiring Freeze

With a federal hiring freeze ordered across the board for federal agencies, government organizations find themselves rethinking operations—including IT. It’s a tough reality for federal IT teams, with civilian agencies seeing the deepest impact. The order heavily affects IT professionals,…