This week kicks off some important deadlines in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s pilot Centers of Excellence program, in partnership with the White House and General Services Administration.

Industry had until Jan. 8 to submit resumes of their best subject matter experts and ideas for process flows to USDA and GSA, and those who are chosen will have the opportunity to shape potentially major changes in the way USDA addresses modernizing cloud and IT infrastructure at the agency. Officials at the two agencies will spend this week reviewing submissions and are scheduled to issue invitations to give oral presentations by the end of the week. Awards will be issued by the end of January.

Selected industry experts will be partnered with a team of USDA’s “top talent,” according to Joanne Collins Smee, acting director of GSA’s Technology Transformation Service and deputy commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service.

USDA’s Centers of Excellence program, which is designed to address findings in the White House Office of American Innovation’s recent IT Modernization Report, will likely become the basis for Centers of Excellence adopted by other federal agencies, giving participants the opportunity to influence major IT shifts across the government.