Survey Shows Federal Managers Embracing Technology

A recent survey of senior federal employees has revealed that federal managers largely approve of the use of digital technology and wish their agencies would increase such usage, while simultaneously fretting that the federal government is not adapting to today’s technology as quickly as the private sector. The survey, released in January, was conducted by the National Academy of Public Administration and Virginia technology consulting firm ICF International and surveyed approximately 10,000 federal employees, most of whom were at the GS-13 level and up. A sizable majority of the managers who responded answered that devices and software such as smartphones, tablets, apps, online services, and video-conferencing have both improved their productivity and helped them to serve more Americans.

However, only 15% of respondents agreed that their agencies were making technology available to their employees as quickly as private sector companies do. Approximately two-thirds of respondents were unaware of whether their agency even had a documented digital strategy. With the survey being conducted a full three years after the White House released a number of high-profile directives with the goal of increasing the federal government’s use of digital technology, the results indicate that many managers feel the government is still too slow to adapt new capabilities.

Furthermore, a large majority of respondents believed that the federal government’s acquisition process is too slow and burdened by regulation to fully enable agencies to buy digital products when they need them. And while most managers say they have the proper training to adapt to new technologies, only 36% of them believed that their employees were similarly equipped.

The results of the NAPA/ICF survey support many of the current trends in federal management. Rather than being terrified of technology and stuck in outmoded practices, as many critics of federal workers would allege, managers in the federal government are increasingly embracing technological changes that will lead to productivity improvement. The problems with effecting this development seem to lie more in the ease of doing so, as procurement and acquisition regulations can strangle efforts to upgrade office technology.

As different types of new technological advances become more and more commonplace in government offices, federal managers will need to become adept at adapting their practices to reflect the new normal. This may include developing a coherent set of procedures for teleworking employees, becoming familiar with video-conferencing with colleagues, or being prepared to upend the status quo when technology makes certain practices obsolete. Technological advances can also lead to landmines for a manager, such as when assigning telework privileges can prompt discrimination claims from those passed over. To protect against such instances, managers should carry a professional liability insurance (PLI) from FEDS. The FEDS programs provides members with legal representation to defend against any EEO complaints, discrimination claims, or other administrative matters. To learn more about FEDS today, call 866.955.FEDS or

For more information on your specific exposures now, how professional liability insurance protects, or how the FEDS program differs from other insurance programs, please visit the FEDS website and choose the Executive and Managers tab. For more articles like this one, read "Yesterday's Headlines, Today's Coverage" in the bottom left corner on the FEDS homepage.


Posted in Manager Matters



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