Do I Need a Government Technology Consultant?

IT Consulting for Government

Once wary of cloud services, federal, state, and local government agencies are now embracing new technologies to help them manage large and diverse amounts of content, while meeting the needs of the public. But managing all of this, especially with a limited or inexperienced IT staff, can be time-consuming and complicated. To get current with technologies and support their IT team, many government agencies are looking to bring on a government technology consultant, or a government cloud consultant.

A quick Google search for government technology consultants brings up a number of sites with hiring information for this position, indicating an interest from companies and agencies. CIO Magazine also reports that pay for IT contractors is on the rise; a 2018 Tech Salary report reveals that hourly rates for consultants increased 4.7% from 2016 to 2017, while pay for internal IT staffers remained fairly flat. But when continually facing shrinking budgets (the State Department’s budget alone was cut nearly 30%), does it make sense for government agencies to hire a government technology consultant—or is there a better option?

 

What Does a Government Technology Consultant Do?

A consultant is a third-party entity that will come into your agency to assess your IT operations and then work with you to make improvements. Here’s a current job description from the web:

An IT consultant typically works for a consulting firm or independently. The consulting firm is hired or contracted by a company to come in and analyze their IT systems and structure. The jobs can take weeks or months, but as consultants, you are contracted to work for that company until the job is done. Consultants often have an office they report to, but often work on-site at the company to which they are contracted.

 

Disadvantages of Hiring a Consultant

Agencies that want to be hands-off when it comes to IT may like the idea of a consultant coming in, taking care of business, and then leaving. But there can be disadvantages to this approach:

  • Consultants can be costly. Forbes reports that a small management or IT consulting firm may charge nearly $300 per hour. Sound pricey? You may be able to get an entry-level consultant for about $175 instead. But as they say, you get what you pay for.

  • Consultants can lack specialization. A consultant who understands government nuances (CJIS compliance, for example) is highly specialized, leading some agencies to turn to general IT consultants. However, this “one size fits all” mentality can lead to trouble or even fines down the road.

  • Consultants are temporary. While a consultant may get your agency geared up for greater things, they ultimately leave once their contract expires. Without a solid IT team in place, this can leave agencies scrambling for support when something inevitably goes wrong.

Another Option: A Government Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)

Rather than attempt to hire a large and experienced internal team, or bring in a temporary government technology consultant, many agencies are turning to the expertise of a government cloud provider. Government cloud providers not only act as an outside consultant, but they can help operate, maintain, and support the infrastructure, as well as assist with the running of applications and management of workloads. And while a contract is involved, a good provider is always there for you.

Two things to look for in a government cloud provider:

  • CJIS Compliance. Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) regulations affect almost every aspect of data management within government agencies. Equipment will need to be properly configured, and PINs, passwords, and biometrics need to be used to unlock certain functions to remain compliant with CJIS regulations. Training that provides an understanding of cybersecurity and data breaches is also necessary. A word of caution: be wary of providers claiming they are CJIS certified versus CJIS compliant; no central certification or accreditation exists for CJIS.

  • GSA Contract. The General Services Administration (GSA) is the federal government’s procurement expert, helping other federal agencies get the products, services, and consulting advice they need from federal and commercial sources since 1949. When looking for a cloud partner, it may benefit you to find one that is available for purchase through the GSA contract. Learn more about the GSA advantage here.

DSM G-Cloud: Powering Government Agencies

If your agency requires expertise in areas such as cloud computing, cybersecurity, analytics, and digital transformation, consider making a move to DSM’s G-Cloud. G-Cloud is the first VPC solution designed for national, state, regional, and local government agencies. We ensure strict security protocols, 99.99%+ uptime, and a complete compliance package, meeting the requirements for CJIS, HIPAA, PCI, and SOC 1 and SOC 2. DSM’s G-Cloud is also now available for purchase through the GSA contract. If you prefer an IT Health Assessment prior to choosing our cloud services, we can do that too; we’re so certain you’ll enjoy working with DSM that the initial assessment is free. Contact one of our IT experts today to learn more.

CJIS Checklist

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