Melvin Brown, Deputy CIO at the Office of Personnel Management, explains the organisation’s ‘sprint to the cloud’ and its determination to modernise at every level.

In an organisation that prioritises people, it makes sense that even the approach to IT would be very human. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is a government entity which manages America’s civil service. It exists to support people by recruiting new government employees, looking after their health insurance and various benefits, and it also provides resources to help citizens enter the world of work and start their careers. And, right now, it’s working on modernisation from within.

The way technology has been managed at OPM has changed significantly since Melvin Brown, Deputy CIO, stepped into his role at OPM in October 2021. He oversees a portfolio of around $500m in programs, as well as a growing workforce of around federal employees and 300 contractors. 

As Deputy CIO, Brown is responsible for providing leadership and direction in the execution of OPM’s strategic IT plans. He’s been collaborating closely with the CIO to make the organisation’s technology ambitions come to life. He recently received the 2023 Federal 100 award by Federal Computer Week, which recognises the 100 top influencers across the federal government who have made significant impacts on improving government services.​

Sprint to the cloud

Currently, OPM is undergoing a major cloud transformation. The aim is to modernise by closing all of its data centres and moving from on-prem to the cloud. Brown refers to this move as the beginning of OPM’s ‘sprint to the cloud’ initiative. The business has a two-year roadmap in its sights for this.

“We want to be cloud-first and cloud-smart as we move forward,” he explains. “So, we created a two-year sprint to the cloud plan where we take all our major applications and move them to the cloud in order to take advantage of all the benefits that brings, from both a security and a utility perspective.”

Modernising the culture

A ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ approach clearly isn’t enough when it comes to new technology. A future-forward culture has to accompany major change and modernise in order for it to work properly. Brown is passionate about the modernisation of culture alongside IT. He knew from the first week in his role that it was something OPM needed a push with.

“We’re very strategic about each hire,” says Brown. “We’re looking for people who don’t just have technology skills, but people skills too. People who can lead our modernisation efforts and push tomorrow’s skills, today.” OPM has an intern program and has brought in 18 talented people who are early in their careers and eager to get involved. This has given OPM an infusion of new ideas about solving common business challenges.

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