The steady evolution of government IT ft. Alexis Wichowski
Play • 25 min

Technologically speaking, the public sector has room to grow. Considering the ever-present threat of leaks and strict hierarchies within government, restrictions on internal comms make it difficult for IT to keep up with the speed of innovation. But according to Alexis Wichowski, deputy CTO for innovation in NYC, innovations are happening – slowly, but surely – in the public sector, affecting both internal comms and external outreach with constituents around community support. Listen as she talks about the current struggles facing public sector IT, its real importance alongside other government work, what becomes possible with more innovative leadership, and more.


Key Takeaways:

[1:52] Although Twitter plays a critical role in our public discourse now, there was a time when the government remained outside of the public square. Today, Alexis acts as a sort of translator between technological advancement, the public sector and private sector.

[3:00] Even the most advanced public sector tech teams are behind where the private sector is, almost about a decade behind according to Alexis.

[3:15] With tools that promote democratized collaboration, there can be some drawbacks. Alexis gives the example of a Google Doc gone wrong and WikiLeaks.

[6:13] WikiLeaks created a sense of justification for being paranoid about putting things in digital form and set back the information sharing efforts of the government for a long time.

[8:33] Information exchange can turn into a human moment where you are making a connection and establishing a relationship.

[9:29] Alexis talks about the collaboration with the community of Brownsville and how they used technology to make the pedestrian plaza brighter and safer. This led to the residents taking pride in their community and feeling more connected.

[12:40] It is crucial to think about innovation teams and technologists as essential to every single government office and function. Also, it is imperative that our elected officials are in touch with technology and leaders truly show up and talk with their community about the changes that would impact them the most.

[16:27] How do we draw a line between the domain of government and the domain of IT? Alexis talks about the emerging space of a tech ambassador, and how tech diplomats will be a growing trend. She talks about Microsoft as an example.

[18:23]  Tech companies are not just providing digital goods and services, they are in our world and wielding power. What will happen if we do not address our responsibility within these “net states”? Alexis talks about how she thinks new product teams will include a product manager, UX and UI designer, developers, and the diplomat/liaison to provide real human interaction.

[23:20] We need tech-savvy ambassadors between net states and the state as we know it if we want a say in our digital lives.

[24:08] It starts with responsible people, and everyone demanding ethical innovation.



  • [6:13] Inside the government, WikiLeaks was like 9-11. It was this Earth-shattering moment where all of a sudden, the most careful and sensitive information that we had was broadcast worldwide. - Alexis
  • [7:30] There’s a basic rule of thumb in government that’s sort of unspoken but universally acknowledged. If you don’t want to see it in a headline, don’t email it. - Alexis
  • [8:58] Innovation without communication without collaborations is not likely. - Jo
  • [23:20] People don’t join the government because it pays great. They don’t join because it’s glorifying and has a great corner office with a view. They join because the mission matters. - Alexis
  • [23:20] We need tech-savvy ambassadors between net states and the state as we know it if we want a say in our digital lives. - Jo


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