In the effort to modernize and transform, federal leaders should be looking beyond short-term fixes and point solutions.
“It’s truly about rethinking the world in a digital context, creating that roadmap that is truly groundbreaking,” said Cameron Chehreh, vice president and general manager of global public sector at Intel.
In a rapidly changing world, governments can leverage digital transformation to deliver a higher level of citizen service and on the defense side, keep ahead of near-peer adversaries. Intel can help: Beyond just by making the microchips that support IT modernization, Chehreh said, the company also has the expertise to help government make best use of the emerging tools.
“We can truly show up as a trusted advisor, to help with the adoption of the technology,” he said. Intel’s public sector team “is focused on ensuring that the government is unlocking all the value of what they already have purchased, or are going to purchase, that is based on Intel technologies.”
In addition to that consultative role, Intel is, of course, focused on producing microchips. At a time when pandemic-driven supply chain issues have put the squeeze on chip availability, the company is investing heavily in domestic chip production, a move Chehreh said will bolster government resilience in the long run.
The company is making multibillion-dollar investments to upgrade its existing U.S. chip production facilities and plans to build the largest semiconductor manufacturing location in the world in Ohio.
“We meet the full semiconductor needs across the spectrum from R&D, design, fab and packaging capabilities all in the United States across all of our sites to include the Ohio plant,” Chehreh said. “That end-to-end capability is significant: That’s what allows us to do variations of the silicon for embedding it in the F-35 and other advanced systems.”
Domestic production promises to help smooth out the global supply chain, and will deliver a higher level of security at a time when the Pentagon and others worry about the integrity of the IT supply chain. With strong domestic chip production, “the U.S. government, as well as NATO and allied nations, will know that they can build sovereign systems that will be safe and secure,” Chehreh added.
Right now, 80% of the world’s microchip production happens in the Asia-Pacific-Japan region, he said, with 8% of production in Europe and 12% in the U.S.
“We need to re-balance that supply chain,” Chehreh said. “You can’t have all your eggs in one basket.”
While Intel overall is focused on developing greater resilience on the chip-production side, Chehreh’s federal team is devoting much of its attention to helping government make best use of its emerging digital resources.
With Intel chips serving as a key ingredient in a wide array of solutions, “our customers are already ingesting our technology, and we are there helping them to optimize,” Chehreh said.
“We have digital transformation experts that help them rethink their people, processes, placement and product capability — the four Ps,” he said. “We help them to rethink the world, digitally, on-prem, off-prem, in the cloud, at the edge. We are partnering with them to help them rethink how they adopt technology to meet their mission.”
Intel’s active engagements in the open-source community typify this collaborative mindset. An open-source approach helps ensure government has ready access to the latest advances “and that’s what this is all about,” he said. “It’s about bringing together an ecosystem of partners to help the government digitally transform.”
While Chehreh said he’s optimistic about the potential for digital transformation, he’d also like to see things happening faster. He’d like to see Congress pass the CHIPS for America Act, which would provide “more than $50 billion in incentives to accelerate and catalyze domestic leading-edge semiconductor production,” according to a Commerce Department analysis.
“We need to go extraordinarily fast,” Chehreh said. “This should be a national imperative, because our adversaries are not standing still. We shouldn’t be standing still. We need to able to bring this value to the entire partner ecosystem: enabling our technology and our defensive capabilities. You want to have those things available when needed, and in today’s world, they’re needed right now.”
Having served nearly 30 years in support of the public sector, Chehreh said he takes personal pride in playing a role in supporting the federal mission set, especially on the defense side. He had an early mentor, a Navy rear admiral, who gave him a profound appreciation for the mission, and for the individuals dedicated to the nation’s security.
When he puts in the long hours, “it’s out of passion and love,” Chehreh said.
“There are brave men and women out there protecting our country and the rest of the world, and they deserve the best,” he said. “That’s what gives me a real sense of purpose every day.”