The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 11, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place live, in-person Nov. 30.
Next is Sue Speck, who’s acting director of the Enterprise Cloud Solutions Office, Infrastructure Operations, Office of Information and Technology at the Department of Veterans Affairs, on behalf of the Government Teams Project of the Year finalist, VA’s Cloud Operations and Migration Services Project.
Here, she talks key achievements, shaping the next generation of government leaders and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2021 / 2022?
The Enterprise Cloud Solutions Office set a record by migrating to or developing in the VA Enterprise Cloud 134 applications in FY22, doubling its previous record. The VAEC now has over 270 applications in production and is on target to reach 350 applications by the end of Fiscal Year 2024. Other migration-related accomplishments include:
- Migrated 11 more instances of VA’s electronic health record system, the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, to the VAEC; we now have 13 VistAs in the VAEC.
- Completed the migration of all 132 VistA Disaster Recovery instances to the VAEC.
- Instrumented all cloud and on-premises VistA instances, with Dynatrace providing real-time alerts.
- ECSO also continues to strengthen and expand its core service offerings, including ensuring robust security per VA requirements.
- Initiated pilot programs in response to directives of the Office of Management and Budget Memorandum 19-26 (Update to the TIC Project) and OMB Memorandum 21-07 (Deployment and Use of IPv6), while ECSO’s zero trust efforts align with OMB guidance and Executive Order 14.208 requirements.
- Upgraded ExpressRoute Direct, providing increased bandwidth throughout the Azure backplane and integration to the broader VA network user community (also needed for TIC 3.0).
- Moved Azure Virtual Desktop from a pilot to production, currently serving roughly 1,500 concurrent users today. This is a first step to moving towards a fully cloud-based virtual desktop environment, which will be more efficient and more scalable.
- ECSO also made significant strides in artificial intelligence for operations and application performance monitoring, key Infrastructure operations priorities:
- Integrate ScienceLogic as part of an overall tools ecosystem to ensure enterprise reliability.
- Instrumented key applications using ScienceLogic, such as the Veteran Benefits Management System.
- Initiated SL1-driven device discovery, which will be used to create service maps and strengthen enterprise APM.
ESCO, together with its project team partners, won 2022 FedHealthIT Innovation Awards for 5 projects: VA Community Care Claims Processing System Support; VA Mobile’s Annie automated text message program; VA Telehealth’s TeleWound Care ⏤ No Wound Left Behind project; Cloud Operations and Migration Services; and the CloudKey application tracking tool.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
I am most proud of leading the Enterprise Cloud Solutions Office team, which has increasingly become a recognized cloud-computing leader in the federal government, as evidenced by the numerous government agencies coming to ECSO for advice about best practices.
The success of ECSO and the Infrastructure Operations organization to which it belongs would not be possible without this high-functioning, diverse team of IT professionals. The team’s hard work has resulted in ECSO being the VA’s innovative leaders in cloud computing.
How do you help shape the next generation of government leaders/industry leaders?
Shaping future leaders involves incorporating a holistic approach to employee development, employing training, coaching, and mentoring to build both hard and soft skills. Hard skills, such as education and on-the-job training, help establish foundational understanding.
However, it is equally important to develop soft skills, too, such as empathy, collaboration, team-building and active listening, which provide our future leaders with the solid leadership foundation that is essential to their success.
It is also critical as a leader to learn how to build an organizational culture that produces passion and ownership for the mission, which ECSO has and which has been a critical component to our success.