FedScoop http://fedscoop.com Federal technology news and events Fri, 18 Apr 2014 20:20:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The key to a good ‘challenge’ in government http://fedscoop.com/key-good-challenge-government/ http://fedscoop.com/key-good-challenge-government/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 20:20:59 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=57735 One method agencies have been using to find innovative solutions is by taking their biggest challenges to the public. Several agencies have had major success by offering prizes to the public for the best solutions to pressing problems.

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One method agencies have been using to find innovative solutions is by taking their biggest challenges to the public. Several agencies have had major success by offering prizes to the public for the best solutions to pressing problems.

However, many of these challenges are not successful because of the critical elements they fail to address when introducing the challenge, according to Challenge.gov Program Manager Tammi Marcoullier.

Marcoullier and her team studied successful ideation competitions, and consorted with the challenge, prize and ideation community and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, to understand what makes a challenge and prize initiative successful, according to a post of the DigitalGov blog.

They found that competitions should have:

  • A clear problem statement and question
  • An incentive prize
  • Clarity around intellectual property rights
  • Criteria for judging entries
  • A plan for development and implementation

An important part that makes challenges successful is the ability to submit solutions privately, according to Marcoullier. It’s crucial to create an environment where individuals’ IP is protected and they have a safe space to submit.

“Potential contributors may want to protect their ideas so that if not selected winners, they could build out a product at another time,” Marcoullier said.

Agencies identified as having successful and structured ideation competitions include the Federal Trade Commission’s Robocall Challenge; the National Eye Institute’s Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness Rehabilitation; and the Air Force Research Lab’s scientific and invention concept challenges.

Agencies are encouraged to think about their most critical mission opportunities, and explore which types of prizes and incentives will be most effective in rendering optimum results.

“We see opportunities for the broader ideation community of practice to train agencies in crafting and defining around the problem statement and then taking those ideation requests as feeders for prize competitions,” Marcoullier said. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen lack of rigor in how agencies write their problem statements and have noted that one recently went unawarded due to lack of relevant responses.”

Marcoullier is also the strategy lead at the General Services Administration’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government.

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Are CIOs relevant? http://fedscoop.com/cios-relevant/ http://fedscoop.com/cios-relevant/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:04:35 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=57719 Do chief information officers matter? That was the question posed to six individuals, all of whom have had a career in federal IT management, most of them working the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

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From left to right: Paul Brubaker, Chris Niedermayer, Simon Szykman, David Bray, Karen Evans and Kevin Cooke. (Photo: Colby Hochmuth/FedScoop)

From left to right: Paul Brubaker, Chris Niedermayer, Simon Szykman, David Bray, Karen Evans and Kevin Cooke. (Photo: Colby Hochmuth/FedScoop)

Do chief information officers matter?

That was the question posed to six individuals, all of whom have had a career in federal IT management, most of them working in the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

“There are some CIOs who have been fairly successful in implementing technology reforms in their agencies, but it’s getting harder and harder as we burden the system with additional regulations,” said Paul Brubaker, director of planning and performance management in the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer at the Defense Department. “It’s a hard job, and we dilute the responsibility with the proliferation of C-level executives.”

The Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 highlighted the need for CIOs in government and established guidelines for what their roles would entail. However, along the way the script for what a CIO should be has gotten lost along the way, panelists said.

That, combined with an escalated role of technology in government, has called for a new approach to federal IT management completely.

For AFFIRM’s 35th anniversary luncheon Thursday, the panel looked at a issue that has been the subject of congressional hearings, editorials and conversation in the federal IT community: the evolving role of the CIO.

“If technology is moving so quickly, and yet we’re going to have to do mountains of paperwork just to get it, how is that modern IT?” asked David Bray, CIO at the Federal Communications Commission.

In the CIO role since last fall, Bray has quickly become a top thought leader in the federal government. At his own agency, Bray has adopted a unique management style and brought in folks who share his vision of an innovative and transparent agency.

So, what should today’s public service leader look like?

“Technology and the Internet are becoming ubiquitous,” Bray said. “And we have not thought about how has that fundamentally changed public service… Bureaucracy involves a lot of expectation and that creates a lot of friction; when you have someone in a CIO role, they need to be able to manage that risk.”

Big failures, and worse, public failures in federal IT, have created an environment adverse to risk. And healthcare.gov highlighted everything that was wrong with federal IT, according to Karen Evans, national director of the U.S. Cyber Challenge and former e-government and IT administrator at the Office of Management and Budget.

“When a failure like that happens at that magnitude, everyone jumps into compliance and becomes risk averse,” Evans said. “It’s not the law causing this; what ends up happening is that people on both sides become risk averse because they don’t want to end up on Capitol Hill.”

It’s not a matter of the policy or legislation itself, Evans said, but it really comes down to the implementation.

According to Brubaker, it does have a lot to do with those mandating the policy because they are not aware of the effects of the policies they implement. The 535 members of Congress and officials at OMB don’t spend time in the agencies, and they “just do not get the policy implications,” according to Brubaker.

“It’s insane to watch how [regulations] gum up the system, and how we can’t be agile if we want to,” he said. “We’re so wedded to old practices. What’s the first thing GSA thinks about when we start talking about agile development? ‘We’re going to create a vehicle for agile.’”

Much of how CIOs can operate within agencies depends on the culture of that entity. Simon Szykman, CIO at the Commerce Department, has been in a CIO role for seven years. As to the argument of CIOs controlling the purse strings, Szykman said it isn’t the only way to empower CIOs.

“There are other options for strengthening the ability to have control over mission, besides just control over dollars,” Szykman said.

It also has a lot to do with leadership and the cabinet-level executives supporting the IT mission. The Commerce Department is a great example of senior leadership supporting IT initiatives; when Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker laid out her plan for the agency late last year, opening up the department’s data was a main pillar in that framework.

“When a secretary at an agency cares, everyone else will care too,” Szykman said.

Everyone has the same goal to improve services for the citizens, Evans said. It’s not about just highlighting the failures and shortcomings; the positives are cause for celebration, too.

Chris Niedermayer, senior knowledge officer at BRMi, and Kevin Cooke, acting CIO at the Housing and Urban Development Department, also took part in the panel.

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You can leave your hat on in Washington http://fedscoop.com/can-leave-hat-washington/ http://fedscoop.com/can-leave-hat-washington/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:17:56 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=57700 Anna Furman from the Proper Topper gives the heads-up on accessorizing with hats this spring and summer

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FedScoop’s Social Studies keeps tabs on the latest lifestyle news and events around the Beltway.

The Christine A. Moore “Adora” Wide Brim is $425 at Proper Topper, but prices for hats start at less than $40.  (Photo Proper Topper)

The Christine A. Moore “Adora” Wide Brim is $425 at Proper Topper, but prices for hats start at less than $40. (Photo: Proper Topper)

Easter Sunday isn’t the only chance you’ll have this spring and summer to top off your style with a natty bonnet.

With events like Virginia Gold Cup, the Annual Benefit Luncheon for the Trust for the National Mall and The Woodrow Wilson House Annual Garden Party, warm weather social season in Washington offers plenty of opportunities to push fashion to the brim with a head-turning head piece.

Because not everyone knows the difference between a fedora and a fascinator, we asked Anna Furman from Proper Topper for some advice on making a statement with — and investment in — the perfect hat.

Because hats can be pricey and aren’t worn often, what should a buyer look for if she wants to choose a classic topper?

I think the first step is finding a style that is flattering and comfortable, one you will look forward to wearing again. If it is something that can span a variety of uses like a fancy party, the beach or walking around town. If it can be dressed up or down, then you have a real winner.

What are new trends for hats this spring?

We are seeing lots of pretty pastels, as well as neutrals, in a gamut of vintage-inspired styles, from Downtonesque cloches to dramatic, show-stopping wide brims.

The fascinator: in or out?

The Giovannio “Amy” Fascinator, $235 at Proper Topper

The Giovannio “Amy” Fascinator, $235 at Proper Topper.

IN. It became SO in around the time of the royal wedding that it seemed sure to go out again. But the fact is, it is such an easy-to-wear style, and it is just so much fun, it has real staying power.

Does the old “no hats after 6 p.m.” rule still apply?

I don’t believe in hard and fast rules. I think it really is a matter of your own comfort level and common sense.  If you are in an outdoor setting and a hat makes sense, wear one, no matter what time of day. If you are attending an indoor event that is crowded or involves a seating (a dinner, a wedding, a performance), a large-brimmed hat doesn’t make much sense, no matter the time of day — but it is a perfect opportunity for a fascinator!

Besides Easter and other formal events in D.C., when and where can someone wear a fancy hat?

Derby parties, The Tweed Ride, any outdoor graduation ceremony, any Mother’s Day tea or luncheon, any stylish picnic or beach outing — oh, there are so many places!

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FedWire: Biosensors, LADEE mission and racing processors http://fedscoop.com/fedwire-biosensors-ladee-mission-and-racing-processors/ http://fedscoop.com/fedwire-biosensors-ladee-mission-and-racing-processors/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:00:01 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=57699 FedWire is FedScoop’s afternoon roundup of news and notes from the federal IT community. Send your links and videos to tips@fedscoop.com.

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FedWireFedWire is FedScoop’s afternoon roundup of news and notes from the federal IT community. Send your links and videos to tips@fedscoop.com.

Skin biosensors.

NASA completes LADEE mission.

Shaving nanoseconds from racing processors.

Defining ideation in challenge competitions.

CBO analyses Obama’s 2015 budget.

VA grant programs all in one place.

Largest solar array on U.S. military installation to be developed.

Building on U.S. progress in solar deployment.

Dept. of Navy to host veteran hiring and support conference.

West Wing Week:

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EOP’s Dr. Alissa Johnson on how to best enable a mobile government http://fedscoop.com/eops-dr-alissa-johnson-best-enable-mobile-government/ http://fedscoop.com/eops-dr-alissa-johnson-best-enable-mobile-government/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 11:00:28 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=57457 Dr. Alissa Johnson, deputy CIO in the Office of Administration, Executive Office of the President at the White House, talks with FedScoopTV about how to best enable a mobile government.

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Dr. Alissa Johnson, deputy CIO in the Office of Administration, Executive Office of the President at the White House, talks with FedScoopTV about how to best enable a mobile government.

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Dave McClure to leave GSA http://fedscoop.com/dave-mcclure-leave-gsa/ http://fedscoop.com/dave-mcclure-leave-gsa/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 21:14:05 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=57691 David McClure, associate administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at the General Services Administration, is leaving government.

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GSA Associate Administrator for the Office of Citizen Services & Innovative Technologies Dave McClure

Dave McClure, associate administrator for the Office of Citizen Services & Innovative Technologies, GSA.
(File photo: FedScoop)

David McClure, associate administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at the General Services Administration, is leaving government.

McClure made the announcement in an email to employees April 16, and an official at GSA confirmed his departure to FedScoop.

McClure’s career spans more than 25 years of working to improve government and its technological processes. McClure came to GSA as associate administrator of OCSIT in 2009, and has played a role in helping to shape several governmentwide projects such as GSA’s Federal Risk Authorization and Management Program, known as FedRAMP, as well as USA.gov.

Casey Coleman, former GSA CIO worked closely with McClure during her tenure as CIO, and said he has helped establish very high standards for the agency.

“Dave is someone who is smart as far as knowing the technology in the field, and smart in terms of being able to work very effectively with people,” Coleman told FedScoop. “He can take a complex project like FedRAMP and evolve it from an abstract concept into reality. He’s the perfect model for what an executive in this role should look like.”

Coleman, who met weekly with McClure during her time working at GSA, said his impact on the federal government and GSA will be felt for a very long time.

“Since Dave McClure joined GSA, he has played an invaluable role in making this agency a leader in digital innovation for the entire federal government,” GSA Administrator Daniel Tangherlini said. “He has left a strong foundation that everyone at GSA, and the entire federal government, can build on in the years to come.”

Prior to joining GSA, McClure served as managing vice president for Gartner Inc.’s government research team, He also served on the transformation, innovation and government reform transition team during the early days of President Barack Obama’s first term.

Before working at Gartner, McClure was vice president for e-government and technology at the Council for Excellence in Government. McClure also spent 18 years at the Government Accountability Office, working to review IT and major systems development throughout the federal government.

In his email to GSA colleagues, McClure said he plans to enter the private sector, but was not sure where or in what capacity. His last day will be May 31.

Meanwhile, Tangherlini said he plans to conduct an executive search for McClure’s replacement. Kathy Conrad, principal deputy associate administrator at OCSIT, will serve as acting associate administrator if a replacement cannot be found before McClure leaves.

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Lenovo’s Gerry Fralick on major IT security challenges http://fedscoop.com/lenovos-gerry-fralick-major-security-challenges/ http://fedscoop.com/lenovos-gerry-fralick-major-security-challenges/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:00:52 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=57577 Gerry Fralick, chief security officer in the Think Business Group at Lenovo, chats with FedScoopTV about the biggest IT security challenges agencies are facing.

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Gerry Fralick, chief security officer in the Think Business Group at Lenovo, chats with FedScoopTV about the biggest IT security challenges agencies are facing.

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FirstNet manager steps down at critical time for nationwide first-responder network http://fedscoop.com/firstnet-manager-steps-critical-time-nationwide-first-responder-network/ http://fedscoop.com/firstnet-manager-steps-critical-time-nationwide-first-responder-network/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:50:19 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=57677 The First Responder Network Authority, known as FirstNet, this week announced the abrupt departure of General Manager Bill D'Agostino, raising questions about the FirstNet board's independence from the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

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The First Responder Network Authority, known as FirstNet, this week announced the abrupt departure of General Manager Bill D’Agostino, raising questions about the FirstNet board’s independence from the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

FirstNet issued a statement April 14 that D’Agostino resigned for personal and family reasons, and that Deputy General Manager TJ Kennedy had taken the helm effective immediately.

But a FedScoop source who works with FirstNet at the state level raised questions about political influence from NTIA and the Commerce Department, and said D’Agostino “rubbed some people the wrong way.”

A spokesman for FirstNet declined to comment on the claims that D’Agostino may have been pressured to step down just short of one year on the job. But others point to the rigor of FirstNet’s nationwide outreach effort, which has required extensive travel by D’Agostino and other senior FirstNet managers.

D’Agostino’s departure comes at a critical time for the effort to build and deploy a nationwide broadband network for first responders. In March, the FirstNet board voted to move forward with a strategic roadmap officials hope will lead to the development of a business plan, including a strategy for staffing and resources. Over the past several months, FirstNet has built out its senior management team, pulling in experts from industry, government and public safety to lead the organization.

FirstNet spokesman Ryan Oremland told FedScoop the organization is well positioned to move forward while the board conducts the search for a new general manager.

“We don’t anticipate losing any momentum as we now have the people, plans and partnerships in place to execute our mission,” Oremland said. “When you consider our federal staff, details from other agencies, and contractors, we have a diverse staff of more than 80 people, and many of them have been working in this space – public safety communications – for several years.”

Oremland said the roadmap has received positive responses from the vendor community, and from key FirstNet partners in the states, territories and public safety community.

FirstNet is governed by a 15-member board consisting of the attorney general, the secretary of homeland security, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and 12 members appointed by the secretary of commerce. The board is composed of representatives from public safety; local, state and federal government; and the wireless industry.

Some members of the FirstNet board, however, have expressed concerns about the transparency of FirstNet deliberations and its close ties to the wireless industry. Last year, FirstNet board member Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald of Story County, Iowa, introduced a resolution calling for the creation of an independent review committee to review the FirstNet strategic plan. Fitzgerald argued the plan had been “driven largely or entirely by board members having a commercial wireless point of view and not by board members with a public safety point of view.”

D’Agostino served as an executive director for Verizon Wireless in Southern California from 2008-2012.

“I have been honored to lead FirstNet’s management efforts over the past year, and believe the organization is now well positioned to enter the next stage of its development,” D’Agostino said in a statement. “Although I will no longer be part of the mission, I will remain an ardent supporter and look forward to its future successes.”

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Army expands cyber footprint, hires more IT pros http://fedscoop.com/army-expands-cyber-footprint-hires/ http://fedscoop.com/army-expands-cyber-footprint-hires/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:21:38 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=57673 There’s a new opportunity for Army personnel working in cybersecurity. A new occupational specialty, the 25D Cyber Network Defender, is open to staff sergeants, sergeants first class and master sergeants in the active component.

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There’s a new opportunity for Army personnel working in cybersecurity.

A new occupational specialty, the 25D Cyber Network Defender, is open to staff sergeants, sergeants first class and master sergeants in the active component.

For soldiers currently working in IT or the cyber realm, joining 25D would be a “growth field,” according to Col. Robert Duke, chief of the operations support division at the Officer Personnel Management Directorate, where the new cyber branch is being established.

Expansion of 25D hinges on an elevated need to defend networks because of the “increased pace of technology and the increase of the threat we see in the cyber world,” Duke said.

Soldiers in the military occupational specialty “will protect against unauthorized activity in the cyberspace domain and perform assessments of threats and vulnerabilities within the network environment,” according to military personnel.

“The cyber branch will ensure all soldiers — officer, warrant officer and enlisted performing cyber-duties — receive the same quality professional development they have come to expect from HRC,” Duke said. “We will be the cyber soldier’s contact for assignment, training and promotions.”

Soldiers in all MOSs should consider applying for 25D if they are interested in this type of assignment, said Jim Bragg, chief of the retention and reclassification branch. Typically, rules for getting into 25D “have been relaxed;” normally only soldiers in “overstrength” MOSs are allowed into MOSs with shortages like this one, Bragg added.

No decision has been made yet as to how big the MOS will be. Formal training begins this summer.

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FedWire: Earth Day Google Hangout, Biden on Instagram, and LabChat http://fedscoop.com/fedwire-earth-day-google-hangout-biden-on-instagram-and-labchat/ http://fedscoop.com/fedwire-earth-day-google-hangout-biden-on-instagram-and-labchat/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:15:04 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=57664 FedWire is FedScoop’s afternoon roundup of news and notes from the federal IT community. Send your links and videos to tips@fedscoop.com.

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FedWireFedWire is FedScoop’s afternoon roundup of news and notes from the federal IT community. Send your links and videos to tips@fedscoop.com.

Biden joins Instagram.

NSF’s Earth Day Google Hangout.

Air Force enhances U.S. manufacturing capability.

NASA names six new members to advisory council.

#LabChat: the science of the very small.

Update on NIST’s request for comments on smart grid framework.

New military occupational specialty available.

VA researchers receive science award.

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