FWDThinking Episode 19: The rise of open source technology within government

Alistair Croll in conversation with Technation’s Angela Mondou.

All opinions expressed in these episodes are personal and do not reflect the opinions of the organizations for which our guests work.

[00:00:00] Alistair Croll: Hi, and welcome to another FWDThinking episode. This time we’re [00:00:10] going to catch up with Angela Mondou. She is leader of Technations, which is an association of technology vendors and technology creators within Canada. [00:00:20] She also has a background as a military veterinary veteran, and as we’re about to hear significant experience helping the country through the recent COVID pan. So please join me in giving a [00:00:30] very warm FWDThinking welcome to Angela Mondou. Hi, Angela. How are you? 

[00:00:35] Angela Mondou: How are you doing Alistair? I’m doing great. Thanks for having me today. 

[00:00:39] Alistair Croll: [00:00:40] So before we get started on all my questions around ITAC and open data and procurement and all the things you’ve been working on you have a pretty storied history. You’ve been doing a lot of stuff in [00:00:50] public service and in defense and so on. Maybe you can give us a quick recap of how that brought you to your current role with. Okay, well, so it is [00:01:00] storied. It’s kind of eclectic. That’s what it gets called. But there is actually as a thread to the past because my background in military was trained as a [00:01:10] professional supply chain global supply chain leader, basically. So when I got out of the forces after nine years, I joined the tech sector and one [00:01:20] thing, the one common thread to. My background is I chased the adventure. I traveled the world with the military, jumped in and out of a couple of war zones and then [00:01:30] got into the tech sector side as a really exciting place to be enjoined Nortel Networks led their global supply chain operations. So delivering [00:01:40] telecom into 127 countries from there as Nortel, as we know somewhat blew up a little. I jumped over to Blackberry [00:01:50] and then had a phenomenal opportunity there to start driving a smartphone devices around the world as well. So not so much supply chain anymore, but [00:02:00] sales and marketing. So a lot of tech in my background from there, I led, I actually led a predictive analytics company for years as [00:02:10] well before it got purchased. And that’s what led me to where I am today, which is leveraging every bit of my supply chain background, my [00:02:20] technology understanding of connecting data across companies and continents, and even getting into the space of predictive analytics and AI. [00:02:30] So you are, and I love this, this space right now, which is leading an association, the largest tech association in Canada. And, and, and [00:02:40] really like you say, tapping into and helping influence our nation to drive a very digitally accelerated digital nation, whether it’s [00:02:50] from government, small, medium enterprises business, you name it so that we can become more globally competitive. 

So maybe you can summarize for people what [00:03:00] Technation is. I know many people might still know it as ITAC, but what technicians can date is? 

[00:03:05] Angela Mondou: Right. So we do represent, we represent tech companies [00:03:10] across Canada, everything from the global multinationals, the Facebooks Amazons, Microsoft, Googles to scale up companies, to commercialized companies in [00:03:20] AI or cyber data analytics. So all sizes of companies, we represent over 250. Companies in Canada, across Canada are [00:03:30] mandate couple of really important things that are so relevant right now. One of them is working with our governments at all levels, provinces, [00:03:40] municipalities, federal government, to modernize their digital capability. So driving digital services in government that became extremely critical [00:03:50] during the pandemic. Another key area is accelerating technology adoption in Canada. So we have a large [00:04:00] sector as SMEs in Canada that are not digitally adopted. That’s impacting our gross domestic product really our national [00:04:10] prosperity and competitiveness as a nation, working with the future workforce in driving talent strategies for Canada, another key area that we’re [00:04:20] supporting. And then, health tech, which obviously was front and center during the pandemic as well. So there’s a real thread there of besides representing [00:04:30] our companies with government collaboration and health tech and, and talent, it’s about getting Canada into a better competitive [00:04:40] position globally from a technology adoption perspective as well.

[00:04:44] Alistair Croll: So you came on as the president TechNation in 2019, but from [00:04:50] December 2020 until now you have kind of been involved with a slowly merging and problem as the IT leader for the Ontario COVID task force [00:05:00] presumably taking your skills and logistics distribution. First of all, thank you very much for that. It’s amazing. I think to many people in Canada that after a slow start, we clearly I [00:05:10] have led many of the developed nations in terms of our role at an adoption. So it’s good to see. What did that teach you about the state [00:05:20] of government interoperability and procurement in that role?

[00:05:26] Angela Mondou: It emphasized for me more than anything. And [00:05:30] my background being supply chain and technology supply chain. So working across companies, when I was at the 

[00:05:37] Alistair Croll: The perfect person, you understand the [00:05:40] private sector, you understand logistics, you understand emergencies, you understand military like your, your abs and you even have a background with Oculus, like, like in doing healthcare, health tech. So like [00:05:50] they must have looked at you and God, this person has exactly the skill. Yeah. But at the same time, you have a unique perspective to see how functional that system is. 

[00:05:58] Angela Mondou: Absolutely. And so to [00:06:00] that point, what I, I learned very quickly and one of the success factors that became really relevant to the pandemic and I believe is [00:06:10] really a strategic national competitive weapon now, was our lack of data interoperability within provinces. We have a lack [00:06:20] of connectivity. So that for instance, the supply chain of healthcare data from long-term care, private and public into public health units, we have 34 public health [00:06:30] units. I’ve been to the ministry of health, no connectivity. There’s a real need there to be able to connect all of that data. All of [00:06:40] our pharmacies that have massive amounts of health information on all of us, they were doing the bulk of the vaccinations, not able to upload [00:06:50] instantly into the ministry of health. So they need to create that became extremely, probably prevalent to me, but between [00:07:00] and across her provinces as well and into our national health system, if you will, we don’t have a mandate from a national perspective [00:07:10] where all of our provinces have to have the capability to drive their data to the central platform either really to me, that is one of the most important thing our [00:07:20] nation needs to start managing now. We got a warning shot through this pandemic and, you know, supply chains, [00:07:30] visibility, data visibility, understanding where vaccines are, who has what vaccines. This was just one pandemic. And we know the world is preparing for more. So a great [00:07:40] example for Canada to focus on this recent crisis and not let that crisis go to waste. I really hope our governments don’t. 

[00:07:48] Alistair Croll: For sure. We [00:07:50] heard anecdotally, I mean, FWD50 has been around for five years. We kind of replaced the G-Tech conference, which was a more commercial sort of trade showy conference. And [00:08:00] one of the things we’ve learned is that even this conference has a role in connecting the public sector. So several people who now work in the federal government [00:08:10] first got introduced to the federal government through the conference and then got recruited into the government. But the, well, I think one of the most fulfilling things that’s come out of this is three years ago, we set up something [00:08:20] called the Regional Digital Government Summit, RDGS, and it was supposed to be like a safe space for people from regional governments, not national governments to come together and talk about those unique problems. And we [00:08:30] had people like Hillary Hartley and Jamie Boyd and other folks who are the leaders of their provincial and regional territorial governments come together. And we did the first [00:08:40] one in 2019. And then they had each other on speed dial and many of them had never met. So after they did the Regional Digital Government Summit, they [00:08:50] set up monthly calls and it turns out that those monthly calls made it much easier for them to get up the phone and talk to each other and respond to COVID and put together those systems. So, I [00:09:00] mean, we saw just as a conference, that there was a need to do that, but even within the federal government, I’ve heard these anecdotal stories that you can’t send a calendar invite to someone else in another [00:09:10] department on outlook, it just won’t work. And I think those things are being addressed. It definitely feels like the functional model of government where [00:09:20] we used to say, you know, this is the CRA, this is Transport Canada, this is ESDC needs to be flipped around to a user centric [00:09:30] version where I, as a citizen of Vancouver, who wants to move to Newfoundland, just says, I’m moving from Vancouver to Newfoundland and automatically healthcare and benefits and app address [00:09:40] changes. And driver’s licenses just move over. But there’s, we’re still thinking sorta ministerially or organizationally rather than from the end-user perspective. [00:09:50] How do you think we change that as public just going to not tolerate it, or are there things that, that government and the private sector can do to encourage that?

[00:09:59] Angela Mondou: Well, I think [00:10:00] there’s a a number of things that the government and private sector need to do. I am really, it all comes down to, [00:10:10] from a government perspective, will they pay attention to the recent crisis or moving on to the next crisis? So hopefully we, like I say, tap into that. I think [00:10:20] things are happening for instance, and I, I give a lot of kudos to Ontario and minister Bethlenfalvy who has focused on making Ontario one of [00:10:30] the most leading edge world digital jurisdictions. And they’ve recently appointed a data authority. I’ll be speaking with Andy Best tomorrow to talk about his [00:10:40] priorities. So I think, having leaders within the provinces that hopefully will focus on 1) data interoperability [00:10:50] within the province, 2) with other provincial data authorities, if you will start connecting with each other [00:11:00] but also within their own province, understand and leverage this most recent crisis, which is right in front of us, huge learnings, let’s tap into it. [00:11:10] I know there’s a number of initiatives that, that Technation in our health tech team and members right now are working across Canada on a data [00:11:20] interoperability strategy with the provinces. I believe that there’s an opportunity there. If health, the health sector across the provinces can pull it together, [00:11:30] we could leverage and learn from that as a benchmark. So the healthcare data, the interoperability of health care data can then possibly become a [00:11:40] great benchmark for other jurisdictions and other ministries, and then across provinces. There’s another number of things that have to happen [00:11:50] though, Alister, and I think the federal government has to get behind this as well because we have the province is doing their own things. There has to be some sort of [00:12:00] cohesive leadership. That’s going to pull it all together and drive some of that needs to collaborate across the [00:12:10] province. 

[00:12:11] Alistair Croll: So I have tons of questions and it’s great to talk to someone who can speak on behalf of the private sector. The first I wanted to really touch on is the budgeting [00:12:20] process and procurement. One of the challenges like I come from the startup world. So the whole lean startup model is figuring out the riskiest thing, do the least work you can to de-risk that [00:12:30] thing fast and then repeat. I can’t tell you ahead of time, how much money is startups? I can’t even tell you what product to build. I can tell you what product to build, to figure [00:12:40] out what product to build, because there’s this ongoing sort of iterative sense, but any politician who got up and said, I can’t tell you what the budget will be and I know I’m building the wrong thing, but I need to build the wrong thing to [00:12:50] figure out the right thing is, please vote for me. He’s not going to get it office. So there’s this demand or desire to hold public officials, both in the public service and elected [00:13:00] officials accountable for the promises they make and for them to be able to promise something and follow through, which on its surface is great, but that’s not how most innovation happens. Whether you’re talking about [00:13:10] academic research and the uncertainty there, or you’re talking about the world of startups and experimentation. That’s not actually how that happens. It tends to happen more with [00:13:20] allocate some time and money and resources to something and then find out. Can you talk a little about the, the problem, the tension between [00:13:30] innovation and the way we think about procurement today?

[00:13:33] Angela Mondou: Well if I understand your question correctly, if I’m, [00:13:40] if I’m to look at government procurement, first of all, and I’ve also worked with scale ups and then, smaller, medium enterprises consulting [00:13:50] with tech, small medium enterprises. I learned firsthand much like you prob probably Alistair that, trying to do business with Canadian government, even now and [00:14:00] there there’s so many programs out there now to support small, medium enterprises and minority led, but there’s still a mega issue for Canada’s [00:14:10] small, medium innovators to do business with government. Why is that important? Well, government has an almost seven to $9 billion right now, lever [00:14:20] of technology that they buy. And if they were to focus on buying tech from innovators versus building tech at the end of the day, that’s [00:14:30] what startups, that’s what scale ups, that’s what medium-sized technology companies and large enterprises need to do business. They need deals or [00:14:40] government is the biggest procure of technology in Canada. All of our governments are so first and foremost, I think and we’ve done a lot of work. I have to give [00:14:50] a couple of our government organizations, shared services canada has stepped up, they’ve piloted and now formalized an agile procure program [00:15:00] with us. We did six pilots. We’re changing the way government procures technology right now. And what opened that door was [00:15:10] the pandemic and the Deputy Minister, Paul Glover, and I talking about, okay. We got to get some of these innovations and innovators up [00:15:20] and up front and center in front of government to give them opportunities. We’re trying to rapidly procure tech right now. It opened the door. I’m not sure if I’m answering your question, but so [00:15:30] great headway has been made at least in the federal government to pay attention and now invest in the agile procurement process and technology, [00:15:40] which is really critical. And it is focused as well on minority led small medium enterprises. They’ve now created a scale-up program that’s going to be [00:15:50] targeting minority led and BiPAP companies. So all of these things are. These are major changes in government procurement to [00:16:00] drive deals to the innovators, the startups, the scale-ups, and the, basically the Canadian business that needs uplifted for, for that whole [00:16:10] success of our nation. Did that, did I get close to, I think 

[00:16:13] Alistair Croll: that’s, that’s definitely a new approaches to agile procurement are definitely a recognition of that. I think [00:16:20] the challenge there is that innovation is inherently uncertain, but budgeting is suppose is praised when it is certain. So there’s naturally like attention. [00:16:30] You, you, you mentioned that in Canada, we spend between seven and $9 billion on IT. I know the government, the us plans to spend $92 billion. [00:16:40] I mean, 92.17 billion, but what’s, you know, 0.1, 7 billion between friends in 2021 for IT. And there’s no doubt. [00:16:50] There’s no doubt that we are the. The government is the single largest buyer of it [00:17:00] in the world. That’s not a secret, right? Increasingly we are seeing the maturity of open source projects. And I don’t want to equivocate open source with free because [00:17:10] obviously there’s very good paid open source, but the idea that the source code is not the value, it’s the service that you’re delivering. It’s the support, it’s the maintenance, all that. We’re definitely seeing a move [00:17:20] towards. Open source, where if you had $92 billion, you might want to build a lot of that stuff yourself, particularly with the rich [00:17:30] tapestry of open source projects and licenses that are out there. What do you think is the role of like, like what do you think governments need to [00:17:40] consider when they try to decide. I want to buy proprietary tools and technology. I want to build my own tools and technology, or I want to find this sort of happy medium, [00:17:50] where instead of insisting on escrow, if something goes bad, I want the open source, but I’ll still pay you to build and run it. 

[00:17:56] Angela Mondou: Right. So, you know what I think it all goes back to, and if we were to [00:18:00] compare this to the world of defense, defense maps a short, mid, and long-term national strategy. We don’t have a [00:18:10] national data strategy in Canada. We need that. And that data strategy can be driven by the government, but with industry input. [00:18:20] That data strategy would then. Speak to the interim or immediate needs of technology, enterprise technology, [00:18:30] leading edge, blockchain, AI, smaller innovations required, but also what does the government itself in this strategy [00:18:40] need to manage the security, the, the, the privacy of the data, the policies around all of that. So I think first and [00:18:50] foremost, you have to have a national technology data strategy, a roadmap, and then that helps drive the decisions around [00:19:00] okay, what does the Canadian government really need to own and manage here? What do we need to stay ahead of the game to be globally competitive? How do we leverage and [00:19:10] tap into the innovators and the mega cloud companies and you know, the global assets that are out there. Really [00:19:20] critical and it would roll out in a way that would be far more, you know, we’re going to probably talk a little bit about that public private relationship. [00:19:30] The end of the day, nobody understands technology like industry and the tech sector. And we need to ensure that government [00:19:40] has the latest and greatest understanding as well. The other, you know, and just one tactical answer to your question is. We look at [00:19:50] keeping many of our government employees technology enabled. But my question is what other models can you look at out there where what’s the core [00:20:00] company, competency of government: governing policies, the security of the nation, et cetera, et cetera. What can the government look at [00:20:10] outsourcing or letting go up just like defense did. We went through this and defense and outsourced entire parts of our logistics supply chain. We didn’t need to do warehousing, [00:20:20] outsource that, let industry do that. So I think there’s opportunities for Canada to really get smart about how we move forward and the [00:20:30] biggest sector that’s going to ensure our nation stays globally competitive.

[00:20:34] Alistair Croll: So I, I hear you on the competition stuff. And, and, you know, obviously with companies like Shopify and Blackberry and [00:20:40] Nortel, Canada has had its ups and downs in the tech world. You said, I don’t want to, I want to ask you a couple of questions based on what you just said. You, I think if I’m not [00:20:50] if I’m representing you correctly, you said, you know, that the government should reach out to the private sector because the tech industry knows tech best.

[00:20:58] Angela Mondou: Correct. 

[00:20:59] Alistair Croll: Is that a [00:21:00] good thing or should government know tech. 

[00:21:02] Angela Mondou: I think it’s totally a good thing. If we, we have, how could you, government’s job is not to [00:21:10] build tech or know tech best. The government’s job is to govern the nation and governance in key areas to keep our nation aligned with [00:21:20] the values of this country. And we have a very democratic nation, the beautiful mixed culture. Very open immigration [00:21:30] policy. We have the defense piece we’re lacking and don’t get me started on that area. No, I think absolutely. We’ve got companies around the world. We’ve got [00:21:40] companies in our own nation that has experts that have spent decades studying data analytics, AI, quantum, you can’t, you can’t [00:21:50] compete with that, those resources and that education exists in our nation. So you need to leverage the brain power, the capabilities of the [00:22:00] businesses and industry who spend their entire life in this space. 

[00:22:08] Alistair Croll: So we had an author named [00:22:10] Malka Older on for a book club. Recently we run a series of book clubs with, with government execs and she’s the author. She works in government. She’s an educator, but she is also the author of a series of [00:22:20] books called the Centinel Cycle. And the first book is Infomocracy is the one we read. It proposes a world in which the government is responsible for [00:22:30] holding elections, obviously, but in order for a free and fair democracy to exist, where free speech exists, a large part of what the government is doing [00:22:40] is fighting false information because the more fair and free and open a society that brought to the attack surfaces try and misinform us. [00:22:50] And as a result, undermined democracy, that does seem to me like the government needs a lot of tech literacy. Like I know you said government is here to learn, but what government is about is managing [00:23:00] information. That’s what government does. Right? We take a law, we communicate electoral results.We tell people which services they’re entitled to. So to some [00:23:10] extent, government is in the business of managing information. And for that, it does seem like there are very few people who properly understand the workings of data and [00:23:20] algorithms and technology. And as a result, we often write laws that cannot be turned into code and enforced. So how do we get that literacy to get.

[00:23:28] Angela Mondou: I totally [00:23:30] agree with what you’re saying so that the business world has the expertise to develop the, the software and the capabilities and the products and [00:23:40] the programming and apps, et cetera. Government needs to gover. Government does need, they need to modernize internally in terms of their expertise of [00:23:50] what they’re governing. So that’s your point? I agree with it w there was a recent article in the gGlobe and Mail that Shawn’s cell cost did. And he talked to me [00:24:00] and he had Jim falsely in there, and Jim talks about the need for our government to get the understanding [00:24:10] and expertise within the government to manage this new world, the data what’s happening with the data in, and right now, there, there aren’t [00:24:20] many governments around that are doing a good job and hence we have massive, like you say, amounts of data and information being managed [00:24:30] by industry. And it’s way ahead of the governing. That’s going on because that knowledge base isn’t yet developed within a government. So I [00:24:40] think it’s really important that the understanding, like you say, of the modern world, which is extremely extremely data centric [00:24:50] becomes a part of what governments do understand 

[00:24:55] Alistair Croll: If you had free license to create a thousand person [00:25:00] department within the government of Canada staffed with whatever talent you wanted to acquire, what would, what would that department be? 

[00:25:07] Angela Mondou: Oh my goodness. [00:25:10] I think okay. So you hear all the tacos there about the Karpov that might be like the DARPA. I don’t, [00:25:20] I don’t necessarily agree with that. I think Canada’s got a long way to go there, but I do think that there’s a place for aid. Exactly what I’m talking about. Get a [00:25:30] strategic team that could help map out for Canada, a national strategy on technology and we can focus like as a [00:25:40] nation, what do we do? Well? Is it quantum? Is it AI? Let’s stop giving it away. Like right now we’re not a patent leader in AI. And we should be, we have [00:25:50] thought leaders here. We give away stuff. We gave away the Avro arrow, you know, 50 years ago or longer. It’s kind of what we do. So let’s get a sentence. [00:26:00] It was the beginning. 

I know it really would. So I really think that getting a [00:26:10] national technology data strategy organization together that can work across industry into government [00:26:20] deal with the issue you just said, which is ensuring that government leaders or experts exist within government, but also as a nation really [00:26:30] reigning us in and getting us focused on where are we going to excel and how do we do that from a talent perspective, from a technology development and investment, [00:26:40] how are we going to ensure that Canada is strategically set up to get those investors to come in and have our startups and scale-ups and venture capitalists [00:26:50] wanting to invest here? What are we going to do with our IP? That’s what I think we. All my money. All right. 

[00:26:59] Alistair Croll: Purchased. Yeah, [00:27:00] that sounds good. We do need it for sure. Okay. So I want to take a slightly different tack and I know you have to run, so we’ll keep this as short as possible. Very [00:27:10] fast. So the United Nations yesterday, says it’s seeking a ban on AI [00:27:20] for specific categories of use where marginalization is happening. But yesterday following the EU, the UN Human Rights Chief said that apps, AI [00:27:30] apps that don’t comply with human rights law should be banned. And specifically Michelle Bachelor has said the right to private in a report called the right to privacy in the digital age, said [00:27:40] artificial intelligence can be a force for good, but AI technologies can have negative effects. And because of the lack of transparency we should ban, she wants a moratorium on [00:27:50] AI until we know what marginalized people end affect human rights. The same thing could be said, for example of blockchain, where, you know, we are literally burning down [00:28:00] forests to generate proof of digital truth. It seems like many of these technologies that we rush towards because we think, Hey, they’re good. And they’re innovative [00:28:10] but have negative consequences that we may want to consider as a society, but we’re so busy looking for progress, right? Kevin Kelly has this idea of what technology wants and what technology wants is more [00:28:20] progress. How do we have a conversation about not just public and private, but the balance between progress and reflection? Cause [00:28:30] it feels like that’s not a conversation we’re having at anything other than people yelling at one another about like, oh, AI is going to kill us, aI is going to save us. It doesn’t feel like kind of [00:28:40] nuanced middle ground critical thinking about whether technology is here for humans or humans are here for.

[00:28:47] Angela Mondou: Oh, gosh. I think the [00:28:50] world economic forum is actually having this con conversation on the ethics, responsible ethics, underlying AI and the development of AI. I was just listening to an [00:29:00] interesting podcast the other day with Sam Harris and this, and I can’t remember his name, but he was a phenomenal gosh, he was the CTO in [00:29:10] Coinbase and hugely, a huge expertise and data algorithm, AI algorithms, and the whole [00:29:20] decentralized crypto space. It’s an absolute expert. And, and I think he made a comment that it’s the human brain is behind all of this [00:29:30] amazing technology that we’re creating, but this is kind of where it all starts. To answer I’m not. Your question is getting at, how do we manage this? [00:29:40] I do understand. I mean, I’ve listened to a Melinda Gates talk about how, if we don’t the ethics in terms of who the [00:29:50] Coulters are in a diversity behind the scenes of who’s coating to ensure that you have quarters that are developing a very diverse centric, kind of coding [00:30:00] there’s ethics courses in universities now, and it’s really yield into the very early stages of people learning the whole development of [00:30:10] AI. So I do think that there’s a need for the world and maybe the UN in, in addition to this world economic forum, these kinds [00:30:20] of platforms that bring together global leaders and some of our canadian leaders and great thinkers that go to those platforms. It’s a great [00:30:30] place to start that conversation. It’s there’s a, there’s a major governing issue around this across nations that [00:30:40] don’t see eye to eye. So how do you, you know, how do we deal with autocratic societies, democratic societies and what they’re doing with all of that? That’s an even [00:30:50] larger issue underlying all of this.

[00:30:54] Alistair Croll: We can’t, it only works if everyone agrees and as soon as someone disagrees, then the whole thing falls apart. Right. [00:31:00] So, 

[00:31:00] Angela Mondou: yeah. Yes. Yes. If you think about, you know, what’s happening out there with surveillance, AI surveillance in some autocratic nations, and then you [00:31:10] look at what happens here when we’re being asked to have digital passports and we have people yelling because they don’t want that kind of surveillance. There’s a huge [00:31:20] disparity between the societies that exist right now and what’s happening with AI? 

[00:31:26] Alistair Croll: Yeah. This is front and center. We [00:31:30] actually had a session this morning, FWD50 Extra session with Ayodele Odubela talking about how to think about AI and marginalization. That was absolutely fascinating. And we literally like [00:31:40] built a machine learning model that was biased with a couple of clicks. It was pretty cool. So first of all, thank you so much for spending some time with us today and sharing your thoughts on this. I [00:31:50] know I tack and now Technation has been a huge supporter of. Even in the early years when we started, it was like 800 people at a dream. You know, last year we had 240 [00:32:00] speakers from 79, 8 regions, 29 nations, easily become the biggest digital government conference. And I think as a Canadian myself, I love it [00:32:10] when we don’t give away stuff, we shouldn’t be. So why can’t we hold the world’s biggest digital government conference. We’re a pretty good place to do it. [00:32:20] And it’s been great. The Technation has been of the same spirit and many of your members have been supporters of the conference, frankly. It wouldn’t happen without their support and believers in the [00:32:30] need for a better conversation about a digital government, not just what policies we enact today, but what platforms we’re building in the coming years and what kind of society we want, you [00:32:40] know, FWD50 years down the road is where our name comes from. So always great to hear from the stuff that Technation is doing. And thank you so much. Angela, you’re going to be [00:32:50] joining us in November at the annual conference. I’ll obviously we have lots of other things happening throughout the year. On November 2nd with Stephane Cousineau knows you want to talk a little bit about what you’re going to be doing.[00:33:00] 

[00:33:00] Angela Mondou: So Stephane, when I was referring earlier to the great agile procurement project, we were doing that defense team that’s been working on that with us. So so much [00:33:10] kudos to Stpehane, his team, paul Glover, Glen Kenyatta, because they are thought leaders and change agents inside the government. They’re also working very closely with us on government [00:33:20] modernization and large enterprise contracting and procurement and working with our members. So we’re really looking forward to that. And I would love to have a [00:33:30] conversation with you one day about this new organization we’re going to build in the government, because I think that would be a lot of fun, Alistair. We got to get over. 

[00:33:38] Alistair Croll: Yeah, we got to work on that stuff. I [00:33:40] try to stay very out of politics one way or the other, just because we are running an event like this and I try not to be a lobbyist, but I am all for greater technical literacy. [00:33:50] I think personally that we’ve gone from governing physical citizens to digital citizens or at least hybrid citizens and the systems of government that we have, don’t really [00:34:00] recognize that we have a digital doppelganger. Who’s also a citizen. I think maybe Estonia is the only country that’s really recognized that. And you know, we all have to make that shift. So yeah, let’s, let’s chat more about that [00:34:10] for sure.[00:34:13]

Angela Mondou: Well, thank you.[00:34:20]

Technation—formerly ITAC—represents Canada’s private sector. We sat down with Angela Mondou, Technation’s president and CEO, to recap a tumultuous year and understand what her experiences helping Canada weather the pandemic have shown her about what the tech industry needs to work on.

When COVID hit, Angela took on the role of IT leader on Ontario’s Vaccine Distribution Task Force. Her experience as CEO of health analytics firm Oculys Health Informatics, combined with a decade of work on logistics in National  Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, gave her a unique insight into the challenges of large-scale health operations.

One of Angela’s big takeaways was the need for open, interoperable data so that different departments, jurisdictions, and sectors can collaborate on large-scale or urgent initiatives. In this interview, we also touch on the role the private sector plays in innovation; what the public sector should own and what it should outsource; and the rise of open source technology within government.

Angela will be taking the FWD50 stage on November 2 to discuss the changing face of government procurement in Canada with Shared Services Canada’s Stéphane Cousineau.