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U.S. Department of Labor’s Second Annual Tech Day Draws Federal and Industry Tech Leaders

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) partnered with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and Chief Information Officer Council to host its second annual Tech Day to continue conversations with Federal and industry colleagues on “the art of the possible.” On May 16, 2019, over 45 exhibit booths across DOL and federal agencies – including the Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, General Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Veterans Affairs – came together to showcase the latest in IT solutions at the Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C. More than 3,000 people checked out the expo in person or through the live webcast. As this year’s theme “Unleashing the Digital Workforce” suggests, attendees re-imagined how technology could equip Department staff to do mission-critical work, and be used as a powerful force for public good.

Deputy Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella kicked off the day by welcoming attendees and emceeing the opening ceremony featuring keynote speakers Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, United States Senator Ron Johnson, and Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget and Acting Director at the Office of Personnel Management Margaret Weichert.

This year, the Department of Labor’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), expanded its partnership with regional OCIO offices by hosting additional mini-Tech Day events across the country while tuning in to the DOL headquarters live webcast. The nationwide Tech Day effort took place in OCIO offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. The Chicago office event included participation from five other federal agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Social Security Administration, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Tech Day attendees connected with exhibitors and learned about new applications for emerging technologies including 3D-printers, a Supercomputer, two 3D-printed cars, virtual reality simulations, a flight simulator, and drones. Through these interactions, participants envisioned a more nimble workforce armed with IT solutions that help minimize or eliminate low-value tasks—all for the greater purpose of carrying out the Department's work to increase good, safe, family-sustaining career opportunities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for example, an agency dedicated to ensure safe and healthful conditions for American workers, presented the capabilities of an inspection drone to visitors. The exhibitor shared examples of situations in which drones would enter accident sites deemed too dangerous for inspectors to enter, and how the drones effectively document site conditions in lieu of a human worker. By OSHA applying these technologies to specific use cases, they better serve Department priorities.

drone demo
Tech Day exhibitors demo drones
utilized for inspection sites
deemed too dangerous to enter

Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management Bryan Slater hosted the closing ceremony. Key speakers Gundeep Ahluwalia, DOL Chief Information Officer, and Suzette Kent, Federal Chief Information Officer and Administrator, Office of Electronic Government, White House Office of Management and Budgets, left Tech Day participants with parting thoughts. Mr. Ahluwalia emphasized the necessity of continuing cross-agency collaboration, as it serves as the foundation to enterprise-wide innovation and change. Tech Day facilitates these conversations, but continued agency-wide partnership is the key to creating innovative solutions to advance the mission outcome.

It is imperative to arm Department staff with the best tools to fulfill DOL’s mission to champion the welfare of the U.S. workforce and retirees. In recent years, the job market has evolved in complexity, in parallel with advancements in technology and more immediate access to information. As technology continues to advance, DOL OCIO remains in touch with the latest innovations and works to leverage these tech tools to solve real-life problems. It was Tech Day that provided a forum for federal and industry tech leaders to imagine a more technology-driven future.

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