Lockheed's Gooden: Federal IT efforts doing well despite tight budgets
Despite flat or shrinking budgets, federal IT initiatives are doing better than they often get credit for, reducing duplication and developing constituent-focused services, said Linda Gooden, Lockheed Martin’s executive vice president for information systems and global solutions.
Gooden said the last two government CIOs have pushed hard to move the federal government into the present from an information perspective. Systems are being designed in a more agile fashion and there is more spiral development that allows users to get more capabilities faster and where they need them, she said in an interview on the current state of federal IT.
There is also more government use and development of commercial products, which reduces program costs. The government is also looking at sharing products, which prevents systems from being duplicated by different organizations, Gooden said. Although federal IT projects are still tailored to customer needs, she said that these approaches reduce much of the costs associated with IT systems.
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There are two reasons for the improvement, Gooden said. The first is that the technology has come of age and is available. “It allows you to do things you couldn’t do just five or 10 years ago,” she said.
The other factor is that the people working with the technology are more tech-savvy themselves and have higher expectations about what a system or technology should do, she added.
“When you think about the commercialization of technology and all the products that we have — our government customers have those products at home,” she said. “It sets a different expectation for what they expect to see when they come into government. I think the [new federal] requirements are now aligning around that.”
There is an added incentive because many of these new technologies are more cost-effective than the old custom systems that they replace. This also helps in times of tight budgets because it helps to cut costs, she said. “There are a number of factors — the technology, the budgets, the knowledge and access to technology — that are driving customers in ways that I think the end product will be much better over time,” she said.
Lockheed Martin’s activities in the federal sector reflect many of the changes that the government is undertaking. In the civilian arena, the firm’s largest program is the En Route Automation Modernization effort for the Federal Aviation Administration, which manages 60 percent of the world’s air traffic. This sophisticated software system serves as the foundation for the FAA’s Next Generation program, Gooden said.
The company also supports a number of other federal customers such as the Social Security Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department. Lockheed Martin has a large contract at the Energy’s Hanford nuclear facility consolidating many of the site’s IT and computing capabilities. The effort is part of the department's green IT initiative. By using virtualization to reduce the amount of hardware and redesigning the IT architecture, the Hanford effort is helping cut Energy's carbon footprint, Gooden said.
Cybersecurity is also central to Lockheed Martin’s enterprise IT efforts. As the major supplier of government IT systems and services, security is built into everything the company does, Gooden said. “All of the software we deliver, all of the systems we deliver, all of the computers and infrastructure we manage, all have to be protected,” she added.
Lockheed Martin has been managing security for years because it has always had to secure its own systems, she said. The company now has a large practice focusing on security in the intelligence and defense communities. Lockheed Martin also recently won another major contract for performing computer forensics and cybersecurity work at the Defense Department’s Cyber Crime Center contract.
In the current tight fiscal environment, with flat or shrinking budgets and the possibility of defense sequestration looming in the near future, Lockheed is looking at markets beyond the federal government. Lockheed Martin is focusing on three areas outside the government. One is cybersecurity. The company is looking at other large industries that need protection.
The company also has a growing energy efficiency practice with 41 utility customers, to which it also provides cybersecurity services. Gooden said Lockheed Martin developed a product called Palisades, which provides a cybersecurity command and control capability for energy and defense applications.
By using its federal experience as a base, the company has been able to move into other commercial markets with a solid portfolio of IT services, she said.