Virginia announced in January the appointment of Anthony Fung as the state's new deputy secretary of technology. Fung, who began his new position in mid-February, is entering public service for the first time, with 17 years' experience in the private sector, including work as a federal government contractor. Fung was CEO of technology consulting firm GovInsight and majority owner of Catapult Consultants, a firm specializing in finance, acquisition, health care and IT management.
Fung has a lot of experience being on the other side of the procurement process, and he shared with Government Technology that it will be interesting to see how things look from the public-sector side. Procurement in particular, he said, is one government process in Virginia that he believes can be improved, among many others.
“I think that being able to collaborate -- whether it be talking about new initiatives or things that the agency or the government need for services -- is an [important] process in order to listen and hear what the various stakeholders have in terms of input and then to be able to make an informed decision," Fung said. "I think that type of process can always be improved."
Using IT as “an enabler” to help the organization solve problems is one approach he will bring to the state. The idea is to use technology to enhance existing industries and to bring new opportunities to residents in a way that's relatable, he said. For example, rather than trying to start a new industry in Virginia or encouraging new kinds of jobs, Fung wants to use technology to enhance jobs and a way of life that's familiar to residents, because that’s a more efficient and effective way of doing business.
“Even though our society is definitely more tech savvy – you have grandmothers that can use iPads and they’re adopting technology more – the challenge becomes that not all technology can be consumed that quickly,” he said. “If you can bridge the gap in terms of what is familiar and what is something that is relevant to folks in various areas like agriculture, it’s much more compelling.”
Technology is also manifesting itself in so many ways, he said, that it can be a distraction to an organization if it doesn't stay focused on the things that are important. “I think the challenge is to be able to identify key strength areas and how does that complement the commonwealth, what they already have in strength in terms of other industries,” he said. The state wants to be innovative without spreading itself too thin or falling for fads, Fung said.
There are three technologies that Fung finds particularly exciting where government is concerned. One of those areas is health-care IT. Fung said he looks forward to “health technologies that you can implement at the home or technologies that can be put in place into the actual delivery of care.”
Big data and analytics, he said, are also very exciting, especially when it comes to finding ways to use big data in industries that haven’t used it much before. “Using processes and software to improve their optics or improve their services or knowledge base of their customers is an amazing opportunity."
Crowdsourcing is another tech-enabled process that has become a trend in government, particularly in some federal agencies like Health and Human Services and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. State and local government have also adopted crowdsourcing to varying extents, including some projects in Virginia. Fung said he would like to see the state pursue more projects that use public input so Virginia's leaders can understand the details of what people want and then also make use of those willing to help.
Fung has been at his new position for only a couple weeks, but said he is excited to facilitate and support technology for Virginia's markets, and keep the state a leader in its ability to attract and retain new, successful businesses.