FedScoop http://fedscoop.com Federal technology news and events Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:03:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ‘Disturbing’: Federal employee morale, confidence in leadership drops http://fedscoop.com/federal-employee-morale-getting-worse-highlighted-negative-feelings-leadership/ http://fedscoop.com/federal-employee-morale-getting-worse-highlighted-negative-feelings-leadership/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:03:17 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=64697 In a year plagued by the hangover from sequestration and the government shutdown, the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey shows that federal workforce morale isn't getting any better, and negative feelings for senior leadership might be the lead culprit as it has dropped to a five-year low.

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Image: iStockphoto

OPM released the results of its annual federal workforce survey. (Credit: iStockphoto.com)

In a year plagued by the hangover from sequestration and the government shutdown, the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey shows that federal workforce morale isn’t getting any better, and negative feelings for senior leadership might be the lead culprit as it has dropped to a five-year low.

Each year, the Office of Personnel Management conducts the survey, questioning hundreds of thousands of federal employees on their perception of engagement, motivation, satisfaction, support and other topics surrounding their employment. While OPM was quick to point out that 90 percent of federal employees are hard workers “willing to put in the extra effort to get a job done,” that’s overshadowed by continued downward slide in feds being happy and engaged in their jobs.

Looking at year-over-year change in the federal workforce’s perception on topics like sense of purpose, belief in leadership, and having feelings of motivation and competency, the annual OPM survey results reveal that governmentwide employee engagement sank by a percentage point, dropping from 64 percent in 2013. That number has steadily dropped since 2011, when it reached 67 percent, the highest in the last five years.

The overall employee engagement score is a composite of the nearly 400,000 respondents across 82 agencies, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta explained in a conference call, and digging deeper reveals what might be causing that downward trend. One of the biggest decreases in engagement: Employees’ views on leadership saw a 3 percent plunge since 2013 and 6 percent when compared to 2011.

When broken down even more to the overall responses to individual questions, the trends are even more negative. All of the individual questions on leadership saw decreases in positive responses since last year.

The statement “In my organization, senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce” garnered just a 38 percent positive response, a 7 percent drop since 2011.

The Partnership for Public Service gets a good sense of OPM’s FEVS data each year when it uses it to form its “Best Places to Work in Federal Government” rankings. John Palguta, vice president of policy at PPS, said since 2010, he’s seen nasty downward trend in engagement while putting the list together.

“As I thumbed through [this year's survey], I just see way too many downward pointing arrows in terms of the trend analysis,” Palguta said. “There’s a few little bright spots, but overall these results are disturbing. There’s no way to whitewash it.” He was particularly surprised that leadership was so low, given that a major problem at one agency or a few would be evened out governmentwide. But drop of more than 1 percent, he said, is pretty startling.

“While leaders across the government would like to see these scores go up, we have to remember that this has been a very difficult time for federal employees, and it’s going to take time for them to recover from an extended period of sequestration, furloughs and the government shutdown,” Archuleta said. “The FEVS is valuable because it shows us as leaders where we need to focus those recovery efforts.”

Palguta agrees with the director, saying that the traumatic events of the shutdown last fall still lingered when the survey went out, and respondents looked to leadership to be held accountable.

“I think some of that is misplaced unhappiness, maybe more a result of the political process than the leadership,” he said. “But still, you hold your leaders accountable.”

Archuleta and OPM think agencies can use the data from this survey, along with powerful digital tools like UnlockTalent.gov, to improve upon where the survey shows they are lacking. “We believe this survey is one of the most valuable tools OPM provides to agencies because it helps agency leaders know and understand with their employees, even at the department and office level,” she said. “It helps them make strategic decisions about their workforce initiatives.”

Participants tend to disagree. Only 38 percent “believe the results of this survey will be used to make my agency a better place to work.”

Paul Wilson, vice president of federal solutions for the Ken Blanchard Companies, said, again, it comes down to a lack of leadership accountability that causes that distrust.

“There’s a lack in confidence that things will be done,” Wilson said. “A lot of times what leaders are going to be doing to solve these things are either not done at all or budgets are cut and they’re not implemented. It’s a difference between saying things are going to be done and then actually doing them. The survey happens year after year, but internally, they know that those developmental areas are not changing.”

Despite the poor results, the opportunity to turn things around has just begun. Palguta said the survey isn’t some magic book full of answers; rather, he said, “it tells you the questions to ask,” like why employees feel that way and what can be done about it. “The value of this is not to shake our heads about things going the wrong,” he said. “It’s figuring out how do we take this information and turn things around.”

It’s also not impossible for agencies to succeed in engaging their employees in the current federal landscape of pay cuts, furloughs and political gridlock.

“NASA is an agency that’s been battered in many ways,” Palguta said. “They don’t have a space program right now, they can’t put anybody in space. You would think NASA would be in disarray in terms of employee satisfaction, yet it continues to go up.” At 77 percent, NASA scored the highest for department and large agency employee engagement and global satisfaction, as well as several other minor categories.

Likewise, the fact that so many federal employees continue to take an anonymous survey despite whether they believe it does any good is an encouraging sign.

“The fact that you still have almost half of employees taking the time to respond means there’s at least still some hope that somebody’s paying attention and somebody’s going to do something with the views they’re sharing,” Palguta said.

View the FEVS survey here.

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Suburban D.C. schools receive STEM education grant http://fedscoop.com/suburban-d-c-schools-receive-stem-education-grant/ http://fedscoop.com/suburban-d-c-schools-receive-stem-education-grant/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:48:48 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=64698 Several suburban Washington, D.C., schools are slated to receive $1 million from a local chapter of a defense trade group for STEM education programs targeting women and minorities.

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AFCEA Bethesda in Maryland is giving four institutions nearly $1 million. (iStockphoto.com)

AFCEA Bethesda in Maryland is giving four institutions nearly $1 million to create an educational pathway for students interested in STEM careers. (iStockphoto.com)

Several suburban Washington, D.C., schools are slated to receive $1 million from a local chapter of a defense industry nonprofit group to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs.

The program, sponsored by AFCEA Bethesda in Maryland, aims to identify children — particularly girls and minorities — who have an early interest in STEM and help guide them from grade school through college.

The four institutions selected serve students from a range of age levels: One is a private grade school, and another is a Big Ten university. The schools agreed to collaborate to make sure their curricula feeds into the next institution and that they work to share resources that could be helpful to their students.

The program “creates the glue to not get lost along the way,” said Michael Priddy, former vice president of education at AFCEA Bethesda and current president and CEO of Intervise.

As the four schools are located so close to the nation’s capital, the program also has the potential to touch the federal workforce, where there have been recent efforts to bolster recruitment of STEM workers.

For example, Montgomery College, a community college in Maryland selected to receive a grant, has a large number of students from the federal sector and private industry looking to upgrade their skills, said Rose Garvin-Aquilino, the school’s director of corporate and foundation relations. Also, the school’s mentor-mentee day brings in some professionals who work in government, so that career track is particularly visible.

Sanjay Rai, senior vice president for academic affairs at Montgomery College, said, overall, the need for a STEM-trained worker is much higher today than it was several years ago, and community colleges are in a unique position to fill that need.

“Community colleges are accessible – geographically and financially,” Rai said.

Garvin-Aquilino said Montgomery College’s ongoing relationship with AFCEA Bethesda has already benefited its students. So far, 68 students have received scholarships, she said. And recently, one of its students was able to nab an informational interview with the company of one of AFCEA Bethesda’s top brass.

“It’s that opportunity that’s really powerful,” Rose said.

Over the next five years, through the grant program:

  • Bullis School, an independent primary and high school in Potomac, Maryland, will receive $75,000 for an initiative to investigate how best to reinforce interest in STEM careers for girls from grade school through college.
  • Montgomery College Foundation will receive $225,000 for student scholarships as well as for a STEM engagement workshop for middle school girls, called the Sonya Kovalevsky Program.
  • The University of Maryland at College Park will receive $425,000 in support of the AFCEA Bethesda Scholarship Program and Computer Science Connect – a three-year outreach initiative that encourages young women and racial minorities to explore computer science.
  • The Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, Maryland, and the University System of Maryland Foundation Inc. will receive $100,000 for scholarships.
  • AFCEA International Education Foundation will receive $25,000 annual for STEM teacher scholarships.

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Air Force ready for branch’s first-ever hackathon http://fedscoop.com/air-force-hackathon/ http://fedscoop.com/air-force-hackathon/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 20:21:35 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=64709 In the shadow of the Air Force Research Laboratory, more than 100 civic hackers will spend their weekend at the military branch's first ever hackathon.

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air force

Lt. Col. Matthew Yaun conducts aerial operations during a training flight onboard a C-17 Globemaster III Sept. 8, near Joint Base Charleston, S.C. The Air Force is holding its first-ever hackathon this weekend at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. (Credit: U.S. Air Force/Flickr)

In the shadow of the Air Force Research Laboratory, more than 100 students, academics and civic hackers will spend their weekend applying code to some of the Air Force’s most pressing problems during the military branch’s first-ever hackathon.

Coders with a variety of backgrounds from schools like Stanford University, Rutgers University and the University of Dayton will be joining representatives of AFRL, the Air Force Institute of Technology and the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, for the two-day event.

Dave Caraway, the co-founder of Code For Dayton, a Code For America offshoot, helped organize the hackathon, called “LabHack,” in order to “bring in expertise and uncover new skill sets” that could help advance current Air Force research.

“A big part of it is learning about the Air Force and the problems they’re working on, which have a lot of impact in other areas of society,” Caraway told FedScoop.

After the event sold out in a week and a half, Caraway expanded the hackathon to include a mini-conference. The event will also feature presentations from OpenBCI, a company that builds open source chip kits that are used to measure electrical brain activity, and Plotly, an online analytics and data visualization company.

The code being built will actually focus on a number of different issues highlighted by Air Force researchers. A key component will focus on 15 GB worth of data collected from sensors from the AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing, which is based at Wright-Patterson.

Air Force

The hackathon will take place at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, home of the Air Force Research Laboratory. (Credit: soundfromwayout/Flickr)

“We wanted to join forces and challenge people to create innovative ways to solve Air Force problems through analyzing human-centered research,” Scott Galster, AFRL’s chief of the Applied Neuroscience Branch, said in a release. “Using a ‘hackathon’ as our platform allowed us to bring the community together in a fun and competitive way while supporting our airmen.”

However, Caraway said the projects can come from a number of different problem sets.

“We’re not trying to be heavy handed about what people work on,” Caraway said. “From the Air Force perspective, it is about pitching the idea. The idea is to motivate the attendees to care about that problem and then start to approach it and build solutions for it.”

The code from this weekend’s hackathon will all be available through a public general license and will uploaded to the event’s GitHub page.

“The code will be carried forward afterwards,” Caraway said. “It could be put into commercial products, it could be used for future hackathons, it could go into further development for some of the problems that the defense community is working on as well.”

Caraway, a former Presidential Innovation Fellow who works for GSA’s 18F, said the real success of the event goes beyond the code.

“This might be the first opportunity [for attendees] to ever work directly with government folks,” Caraway said. “Likewise, for a lot of the government folks, this may be the first time they’ve met with these companies or universities.”

For more information, visit LabHack’s website.

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Health IT national coordinator leaves to battle Ebola http://fedscoop.com/health-national-coordinator-leaves-battle-ebola/ http://fedscoop.com/health-national-coordinator-leaves-battle-ebola/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:56:49 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=64711 The national coordinator for health IT, Karen DeSalvo, is stepping down from her role to take over as acting assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Kaen DeSalvo will leave her role as the national coordinator of health IT to join HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell in the fight against Ebola. (Credit: Flickr/ Tulane Public Relations)

Karen DeSalvo will leave her role as the national coordinator of health IT to join HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell in the fight against Ebola. (Credit: Flickr/ Tulane Public Relations)

Karen DeSalvo is stepping down from her role as the national coordinator for health IT to take over as acting assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell asked DeSalvo to take on the assistant secretary position and aid her in this time of crisis fighting Ebola, according to a spokesman at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. DeSalvo, who joined ONC as national coordinator in January after a stint as the health commissioner for the city of New Orleans, will assume her new position immediately.

“Dr. DeSalvo has deep roots and a belief in public health and its critical value in assuring the health of everyone, not only in crisis, but every day,” the ONC spokesperson said.

Lisa Lewis, ONC’s chief operating officer, will step in as acting national coordinator.

DeSalvo will be the acting assistant secretary for health, but it is unclear if she will be officially nominated for Senate confirmation. After joining HHS, DeSalvo will remain in an advisory role to Lewis and the ONC team when she moves to HHS, the spokesperson said.

Simultaneously, ONC Deputy National Coordinator Jacob Reider announced he will depart the office in November. In an email to ONC staff obtained by FedScoop, Reider said he made the decision with his family, who live in New York where he’s been commuting to and from weekly.

“Karen and I worked closely on the timing of both this announcement and my departure so that there would be a good transition, strong clinical leadership at ONC, and continued ONC strength on the issues that remain so important to me: decision support, quality improvement, health IT safety and of course usability,” he wrote in the email. “In light of the events that led to Karen’s announcement today – it’s appropriate now to be clear about my plans as well. With Jon White and Andy Gettinger on-board, and a search for a new Deputy National Coordinator well underway, I am pleased that much of this has now fallen into place – with only a few loose ends yet to be completed.”

The ONC, charged for the last decade with driving forward the nation’s health IT efforts, is facing a critical reshuffling. In addition to losing DeSalvo and Reider, the office also recently announced the departures of Judy Murphy, chief nursing officer and director of the Office of Clinical Quality and Safety, to IBM Healthcare Global Business Services and Doug Fridsma, chief scientist.

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Amid criticism, regulators grant USPS grocery delivery permission http://fedscoop.com/amid-criticism-prc-grants-usps-grocery-delivery-permission/ http://fedscoop.com/amid-criticism-prc-grants-usps-grocery-delivery-permission/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:45:19 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=64700 The United States Postal Service can now officially start delivering groceries to your door, according to an order authorizing customized delivery from the Postal Regulatory Commission.

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The United States Postal Service can now officially start delivering groceries to your door, according to an order authorizing customized delivery from the Postal Regulatory Commission.

At the end of September, USPS filed a notice with the commission announcing its intent to continue an initial product test of grocery delivery that began several months ago in the San Francisco area in cooperation with Amazon.com Inc. One day before the newest test was scheduled to start, PRC issued its notice of authorization.

In addition to requesting permission to begin offering the grocery delivery service, USPS also applied for an exemption from a $10 million adjusted limitation, which would allow the independent agency to exceed the $10 million revenue cap established for market test products. The PRC, however, denied the USPS’ request to exceed $10 million in revenue “due to the lack of financial data to estimate revenues for customized delivery,” the order said. USPS may later resubmit the request to exceed the $10 million if it can prove that an exemption is necessary through sufficient data and calculations of estimated total revenue anticipated for each fiscal year of the test.

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance, however, reported to the PRC that the test should not move forward. In the comments filed with the commission, the alliance said the post office has a record of taking advantage of the rights and privileges it receives as a government agency and using them to “undercut the market in which they operate.”

“Inserting themselves into this industry space would simply be another way for the USPS to expand their reach without instituting real reform, not to fulfill its mandate of delivering the mail on time to its customers anywhere in the country,” David Williams, the president of the alliance, said. “The growth would work to push out already established private providers. This action works to hurt private businesses who cannot afford to bring their price down to a level where they can be competitive.”

Williams also pointed to the financial shortfalls the Postal Service has faced over the past few years and called the agency, which receives no taxpayer funding, “near a point of financial collapse.”

“A government agency should not be working to compete with American businesses,” Williams said. “The USPS needs to definitively show that the previous 60-day test of grocery delivery services was successful and that the USPS did not lose money on this project.”

The PRC’s public representative, who represents the general public, filed comments with the commission in support of the USPS’ proposal to conduct the market test but did report the “current record is inadequate for the commission to evaluate market disruption.”

In its order granting the USPS permission to conduct the grocery delivery test, the PRC said the new initiative would not cause market disruption because the prices offered by competitors are within the range of what USPS will charge.

The public representative — in this case Anne Siarnacki — also urged the commission to monitor any changes to the test and to expand the amount of data collected during the process. Additionally, the public representative recommended that the commission deny the $10 million exemption.

The PRC, in response to the notion that USPS could expand the grocery delivery service beyond the San Francisco area, required the Postal Service to provide advance notice to the commission if it intends to move the test to other geographical areas.

Instead of the original USPS data collection plan — which was set to report the volume of packages delivered, the work hours, the travel times, the total cost data and the total revenue generated — the PRC requested the USPS report volumes and revenues by fiscal quarter and attributable costs incurred during the test.

According to the PRC, the test will begin Friday, or shortly after, and will run for two years unless USPS requests an extension, requests that the product be offered permanently or ends the test early.

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Veterans get look at emerging VA telehealth system http://fedscoop.com/va-gives-veteran-orgs-look-new-telehealth-system/ http://fedscoop.com/va-gives-veteran-orgs-look-new-telehealth-system/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:49:02 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=64666 The Department of Veterans Affairs provided representatives of some of the nation's leading veterans service organizations Thursday with a demonstration of the agency's emerging telehealth system and clinical video telehealth scheduling software, both of which are designed to improve access to VA health services for veterans.

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VA's Telehealth Director, Dr. Shawn Norman, explains the capabilities of the VA's new clinical video telehealth scheduling software to representatives from veteran service organizations. (Credit: VA photo by Robert Turtil)

VA’s Telehealth Director Dr. Shawn Norman explains the capabilities of the VA’s new clinical video telehealth scheduling software to veterans service organization representatives. (Credit: VA photo by Robert Turtil)

The Department of Veterans Affairs provided representatives of some of the nation’s leading veterans service organizations Thursday with a demonstration of the agency’s emerging telehealth system and clinical video telehealth scheduling software, both of which are designed to improve access to VA health services for veterans.

VA’s telehealth programs remain among the largest and most comprehensive in the nation, with more than 690,000 veterans taking part in more than 2 million virtual appointments during fiscal year 2014.

“Today’s demonstration is an important part of our ongoing conversation with our [veterans service organizations] partners in developing the tools that ensure veterans have access to the quality care and services they have earned,” VA Secretary Robert McDonald said. “Telehealth is rapidly becoming an attractive option, especially for veterans who do not have a VA health care facility close to home.”

Bill Rausch, political director for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America — one of the largest post-9/11 veterans organizations, with more than 300,000 members — was present for the demo at the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center. “I think what they showed us today is the type of 21st century service that our generation expects from the VA or from any health care organization,” Rausch said in a telephone interview with FedScoop.

According to Rausch, VA officials presented impressive adoption rates for telehealth services, claiming at least 717,040 veterans had taken advantage of the new technology during the last fiscal year. VA officials said that is a 12.6 percent improvement over the previous year and 45 percent of those who were able to access VA health care services using the telehealth system lived in a rural area where it was difficult to get to a VA medical center. Rausch said he is also optimistic about VA’s plans to use the technology for a broader range of counseling services, including post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.

VA received a $23 million funding increase for telehealth programs in the fiscal year 2015 budget, bringing the agency’s total investment in telehealth to $567 million for the year. VA also is using funding from the $16.3 billion VA reform bill signed in August to build additional clinics, many of which are offering new telehealth options. The clinics will allow veterans to access medical expertise from specialists who might be located at hospitals hundreds of miles away. Known as Asynchronous, or Store-and-Forward Telehealth, the concept involves acquiring medical data (like medical images, vital signs and voice recordings) and then transmitting the data to a doctor or medical specialist at a convenient time for assessment offline.

The demonstration Thursday also featured a presentation on VA’s new clinical video telehealth scheduling software, which is designed to improve VA’s efficiency in scheduling patients for telehealth consultations. The software was deployed last month and VA schedulers have been training on the new system, according to VA.

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IT upgrades could help improve patent quality, nominated USPTO director says http://fedscoop.com/upgrades-help-improve-patent-quality-nominated-uspto-chief-says/ http://fedscoop.com/upgrades-help-improve-patent-quality-nominated-uspto-chief-says/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:39:05 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=64654 The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is looking at upgrading information technology tools and tapping into big data as part of a plan to improve patent quality, the newly nominated agency head said Thursday.

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“We’re considering all options — big and small — before examination, during examination, and after examination,” patent office Deputy Director Michelle Lee said at the American Intellectual Property Law Association’s annual meeting. (Credit: USPTO)

“We’re considering all options — big and small — before examination, during examination, and after examination,” patent office Deputy Director Michelle Lee said at the American Intellectual Property Law Association’s annual meeting. (Credit: USPTO)

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is looking at upgrading IT tools and tapping into big data as part of a plan to improve patent quality, the newly nominated agency head said Thursday.

During the American Intellectual Property Law Association’s annual meeting, patent office Deputy Director Michelle Lee said she has convened employees from across the agency to discuss ways to improve patent quality. Among the possibilities, she said, is enhancing examiners’ IT tools, particularly by fully deploying its automated Patents End-to-End processing system and expanding international work-sharing IT capabilities.

“We’re considering all options — big and small — before examination, during examination, and after examination,” Lee said, according to her prepared remarks.

Lee also said in the past, the patent office hasn’t had the resources to take advantage of big data’s potential. “Now we do,” she said. She added that drawing on this resource could help the agency measure and improve every stage of the application evaluation process.

Tech companies in recent years have complained about so-called patent trolls, or firms whose primary purpose is to use patent portfolios to sue other companies for infringement. They blame the prevalence of low-quality patents — that is, patents that have unclear property rights or overly broad claims. Congress has shelved recent legislation to stymie trolls’ efforts.

At the same time, improving efficiency is a major issue for the patent office, which is shouldering a backlog of more than 600,000 patent applications. The agency has been reaching out to patent agencies abroad to coordinate efforts for approving applications filed in several countries. Indeed, earlier this month, the patent office announced it had established a new service to electronically exchange certain patent application documents with China. It already has similar programs with Japan and Europe.

During her speech, she called on conference attendees — and members of Congress — to act as stewards of the intellectual property system.

“We hope to see patent reform move forward on the congressional agenda next year,” Lee said.

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HHS launches $840 million IT-focused plan to improve patient care http://fedscoop.com/hhs-launches-840-million-focused-plan-improve-patient-care/ http://fedscoop.com/hhs-launches-840-million-focused-plan-improve-patient-care/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:33:13 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=64652 Patient-focused health care is about quality not quantity. So the Department of Health and Human Services is offering $840 million over the next four years to clinicians who focus more on quality care than volume using various tools and strategies, including some rooted in IT, to ensure more positive patient outcomes.

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Patient-focused health care is about quality not quantity. So the Department of Health and Human Services is offering $840 million over the next four years to clinicians who focus more on quality care than volume using various tools and strategies, including some rooted in IT, to ensure more positive patient outcomes.

The Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative will spread the nearly billion-dollar sum to 150,000 medical entities — varying from group practices and health care systems to medical associations — who show evidence of promoting quality care, following in the footsteps of the Affordable Care Act. To do this, HHS recommends several example strategies, many of which are IT-focused, like expanding the channels of communication between a patient and doctor and using electronic health records on a daily basis to further examine the care given to patients.

stethoscope and labtop and other medical objectCentral to this initiative, said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell in a statement, is finding the best way to spread information.

“The administration is partnering with clinicians to find better ways to deliver care, pay providers and distribute information to improve the quality of care we receive and spend our nation’s dollars more wisely,” Burwell said. “We all have a stake in achieving these goals and delivering for patients, providers and taxpayers alike.”

Those participants able to successfully demonstrate things like improved care, reduction of wasteful testing and saving costs will have the opportunity collaborate and share their information with other clinicians. And, according to a release, “[t]hrough a multi-pronged approach to technical assistance, it will identify existing health care delivery models that work and rapidly spread these models to other health care providers and clinicians.”

“This model will support and build partnerships with doctors and other clinicians across the country to provide better care to their patients. Clinicians want to spend time with their patients, coordinate care, and improve patient outcomes, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services wants to be a collaborative partner helping clinicians achieve those goals and spread best practices across the nation,” said Patrick Conway, deputy administrator for innovation and quality and chief medical officer with HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Practices participating in the initiative will receive any technical support needed in developing patient-focused health care. This, HHS said, will leave the practitioners prepared for the health case system of the future.

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Samsung mobile devices approved to handle classified docs http://fedscoop.com/samsung-knox-nsa/ http://fedscoop.com/samsung-knox-nsa/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:28:05 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=64660 Samsung announced earlier this week that a suite of its mobile devices can handle the full range of classified information for the U.S. government.

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(Samsung)

Devices running Samsung’s Knox have been approved to carry classified documents. (Credit: Samsung)

If you want to handle classified documents on a mobile device, your best bet may be one with “Samsung” emblazoned across the top.

Samsung announced earlier this week that a suite of its mobile devices has been validated by the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP), becoming the first company to have a consumer device approved to handle the full range of classified information.

The devices added to the Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) Program Component List are: Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition), Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy Tab S 8.4, Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and the Galaxy IPSEC Virtual Private Network (VPN) client.

You can now read classified documents on Samsung's Galaxy S5. (Credit: Samsung)

You can now read classified documents on Samsung’s Galaxy S5. (Credit: Samsung)

The approved devices all passed the government’s Common Criteria Mobile Device Fundamental Protection Profile (MDFPP) and VPN Protection Profile (VPNPP) programs thanks to Samsung Knox, its containerization platform that provides a suite of security and mobile device management options.

“The inclusion of Samsung mobile devices on the CSfC list proves the unmatched security of Samsung Galaxy devices supported by the KNOX platform,” JK Shin, CEO and president of IT and mobile business for Samsung Electronics, said in a release.

Samsung has spent the year making large inroads in the federal space. Earlier this year, the Defense Information Systems Agency placed Knox on its approved products list for sensitive but unclassified use. Also, the FBI asked in June for 26,500 Knox licenses to use on the Galaxy S5.

The new classification supplements that listing, meaning that agencies across the federal government — including the National Security Agency — can use to phone to view classified material.

Samsung may not be the sole mobility provider validated by NIAP for long. According to NIAP’s website, LG’s G3 smartphone is being evaluated by the partnership, with the process expected to be complete by Oct. 31.

A few months ago, FedScoop spoke to Johnny Overcast, Samsung Telecommunications’ director of government sales about agency’s ability to find a happy medium between mobile security and flexibility. You can listen to that podcast here.

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White House launches ‘Write’ API for We the People platform http://fedscoop.com/white-house-launches-write-api-people-platform/ http://fedscoop.com/white-house-launches-write-api-people-platform/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:26:38 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=64670 Just three years after the launch of the platform, which allows citizens to gather signatures on a petition for a certain cause, from the development of a Death Star to action on gun control, the White House announced Thursday the launch of an application programming interface to enable petitions to be embedded on other websites.

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The "We the People" petitioning platform's website Source: The White House

The “We the People” petitioning platform’s website. (Credit: The White House)

The “We the People” petition platform isn’t just for the White House’s website anymore.

Three years after the launch of the platform, which allows citizens to gather signatures on a petition for causes that range from the development of a Death Star to action on gun control, the White House announced Thursday the launch of an application programming interface called “Write” to enable petitions to be embedded on other websites.

“Starting today, people can sign ‘We the People’ petitions even when they’re not on WhiteHouse.gov,” Leigh Heyman, the White House’s director of new media technologies, said in a blog post. “Now, users can also use third-party platforms, including other petitions services, or even their own websites or blogs. All of those signatures, once validated, will count towards a petition’s objective of meeting the 100,000-signature threshold needed for an official White House response.”

Through the API, users can sign already-existing petitions on interfaces other than petitions.whitehouse.gov. According to the post from the White House, more hackathons will be held in the future to “highlight the opportunities on the platform, and to give the community the ability to collaborate around building new applications.”

“The Petitions ‘Write’ API takes a strong step toward making it easier than ever for people to petition their government,” Heyman said in the post. “At the same time, we also hope it serves as a model for a new way of delivering government services online.”

Heyman also said the API is built on an infrastructure that created and supported by the General Services Administration’s 18F and the work of Presidential Innovation Fellows.

Developers need to request a “Write” API key to use the API. To request the API, developers must provide their names, email addresses, phone numbers and organization and accept the terms of use for the API.

Through the terms of use, developers are required to indicate that the app or website uses data pulled from the “We the People” platform but is not endorsed or certified by the White House. The document also said any data that passes through the API is subject to the Presidential Records Act and may be archived.

The newly released API comes just less than a year after the White House announced a beta version of the “Write” API. In May 2013, the “Read” API, which provided read-only access to all petitions that passed the 150 signature threshold, was launched. According to the White House, petitions that pass 150 signatures are publicly displayed on the “We the People” main page; however, a petition must receive more than 100,000 in order to receive an official response from the White House. In 2012, just a year after the platform’s launch, the White House shifted it to open source and posted the code for the platform on GitHub.

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