Manish Bhatia, an innovator the in Karsun Solutions Cloud Practice, recently attended Igniting Innovation, the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council’s (ACT-IAC’s) celebration of innovation in government modernization. Below he reflects on his experience at the event and as a member of the evaluation committee. This post first appeared on LinkedIn.

GovCon Innovation

One cold winter day in 2016 as I was preparing to join the GovCon industry, my mind was clouded with certain doubts – I was wondering whether the government was ready ‘Enough’ to imbibe the latest and greatest in technologies for efficient and effective solutions for the citizens. What better use of the hard earned taxpayer’s money? Hailing from the commercial sector where cutting-edge is the norm, the Government industry is thought by many to be ‘jaded’ or slow in adopting the latest and greatest in technology.

My doubts quickly died when I first joined Karsun Solutions LLC, where innovation was weaved into the very fabric of the company. The entire focus was to achieve the extraordinary while defying the status quo for its customers utilizing nothing but the most advanced technologies and processes. Additionally, my selection as an evaluator on the ACT-IAC Igniting Innovation panel convinced me to change my own ‘jaded’ belief! I am honored to be on the panel to assess and evaluate the multitude of innovations across various walks of the Government industry. Applicants here are solving an array of ultra-complex problems with use cases ranging from utilizing Augmented Reality to save lives of Air Force Pilots to sophisticated Blockchain and Machine Learning solutions for the age-old problem of government acquisition systems to everything in between.

I was stunned! A few of the use cases strongly caught my attention:

  • Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) – GSA FEDSIM
  • HHS ACCELERATE – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Pilot Training Next – SAIC

Process Improvement — In the world of Government business, it is a known fact that obtaining efficient service from the GovCon community is difficult, whether by vendors or by the government agency. One has to comply with FAR rules and often times it’s difficult for both the government and the startups to do business due to these regulations. GSA FEDSIM’s Commercial Solutions Opening – (CSO) initiative is an answer to this problem. It offers a platform for the government to buy innovative solutions from organizations without complying with the FAR rule book. GSA and DHS can procure innovative services easily through the reduction of barriers, contract clauses and paperwork, in turn freeing the government to obtain top-notch services from innovative companies. The CSO solution is a win-win for both the sectors, bringing in high-quality innovation to agencies at a break-neck speed which took months in the previous procurement process.

Innovative use of TechnologyHHS ACCELERATE (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) could very well become the future of Procurement not only within the US government but also for governments across the world. It’s a one stop shop for Procurement with APIs to and has dramatically improved user experience between the contracting officer and vendors by pre-populating templates. Vendors can enhance their profile by adding capabilities that could be easily searched by contracting officers. They can quickly upload their catalogs on the platform while contracting officers can easily create documents like RFI with a click of a button.The key is the trust and transparency that is shared across the system using a decentralized database incorporated using Blockchain technologies. This enables an agency for ‘Smart Contracts’ that could be executed by various parts of the agency rather than relying on one particular department. ACCELERATE is also powered by AI and machine learning which reviews content within the agency acquisition plan and selects applicable clauses for preview along with the populated form and solicitation at any point.

Disruptive Innovation to save lives –  Pilot Training NEXT (PTN) is an experiential approach designed to maximize pilot trainees’ capacity for learning. The US Air Force Air Education Training Command is using this approach to accelerate students through the undergraduate pilot training course that teaches them basic airmanship and aircraft control. PTN utilizes Augmented Reality to generate a sophisticated simulation environment in which a trainee student can operate a variety of aircraft seamlessly. This allows them to develop critical thinking skills to fly safely and think quickly when operating an aircraft beyond the memory associated with flying a single type of aircraft. It uses biometrics, advanced analytics, human performance and advanced learning strategies to achieve and provide indicators of practical learning and student improvement. Students who use PTN can quickly learn from mistakes made during simulation allowing them to train in different situations thus saving lives in the future. PTN is the future of Air Force.

My thoughts are certainly changing as the season is changing from winter to summer and I envision that the government along with GovCon community will continue to make big strides in making the lives of citizens better through innovation and events of the likes — ACT-IAC Igniting Innovation is encouraging to solve problems like never before! We all have a responsibility to keep igniting the innovations as this is what humans have done from the beginning of evolution and this is what have to do for a better future for generations to come.

Manish Bhatia represents Karsun’s collaborative spirit within the IT contracting industry. Check out the Karsun Innovation Center for the latest on IT modernization innovation at Karsun.