How will this Administration ensure that environmental agencies can leverage the necessary technology to fulfill existing programs and new initiatives consistently and effectively?

To successfully pursue the Biden Administration’s ambitious environmental agenda, the federal government needs to significantly rethink how to build, manage, and partner with the technology that supports environmental conservation. The Administration should create a “Digital Service for the Planet,” modeled on the U.S. Digital Service. The Digital Service for the Planet could be established and funded as an expansion of the U.S. Digital Service, or a stand alone organization. We recommend that this organization and structure would be within the White House, with deeper digital infrastructure and technology management expertise than exists today in a mission-focused area of any environment department. This is an important step for the federal government to be a better buyer, partner, and consumer of the data technology and innovations that are necessary to support the country’s conservation, water and stewardship priorities.

The undersigned businesses and organizations call on the administration to adopt three changes:

Create a Digital Service for the Planet.
The composition of the team required to deliver on technology issues critical to the environment is specialized. The Digital Service for the Planet could be established and funded as a distinct part of the U.S. Digital Service, or as a stand-alone office within the Executive Office of the President.

Move Chief Technology / Information Officers into mission-focused roles within agencies.
Evaluate the organization chart and placement of CTOs/CIOs and geospatial staffing and reconsider placing these offices in program- or mission-aligned hierarchies as opposed to administrative ones. This shift in CTO/CIO placement will ensure agencies have leadership and expertise to adopt and integrate technology to support their programs when necessary, and can more easily foster collaboration given common digital infrastructure needs.

Expand funding for digital infrastructure improvements and technology acquisition.
Task the Office of Management and Budget (or the newly created Digital Service for the Planet) with evaluating conservation technology investments across US Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, and National Marine Fisheries Service to develop coordinated recommendations for budget, software as a service, technology partnerships and staffing for technology in the FY23 budget.

Click to see the full memo and executive summary.

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