FedScoop http://fedscoop.com Federal technology news and events Fri, 22 Aug 2014 23:55:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Breaking: Todd Park to step down as U.S. CTO by end of August http://fedscoop.com/todd-park-step-u-s-cto-end-august/ http://fedscoop.com/todd-park-step-u-s-cto-end-august/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 20:55:24 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=62469 Todd Park, the United States Chief Technology Officer, will step down by the end of August, an official familiar with the situation confirmed to FedScoop.

Park will take on a new role working as part of the White House team from Silicon Valley where he will focus on recruiting top tech talent and help channel the best ideas from the tech community into IT efforts in government.

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Todd Park, the United States chief technology officer, will step down by the end of August, an official familiar with the situation confirmed to FedScoop.

Todd Park

President Barack Obama and Todd Park, federal CTO, (Photo: Pete Souza White House)

Park will take on a new role working as part of the White House team from Silicon Valley where he will focus on recruiting top tech talent and help channel the best ideas from the tech community into IT efforts in government.

Park, a California native, will return to Silicon Valley by the end of August in time for his children to start school, the official confirmed. The move back to California has been planned for a while, according to the official. The source also said Park needs to move back home for family reasons.

Park, the second person to hold the U.S. CTO title, has been in the position since March 2012, when he replaced Aneesh Chopra after the position was created by President Barack Obama in April 2009. Since taking on the position, Park has spearheaded a number of the President’s open data initiatives and worked on the creation of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program.

In the position, Park lead projects to use technology to improve citizen services and government outcomes. During the fumbled healthcare.gov rollout last October, Park, the former CTO at the Department of Health and Human Services, led the team that sought to bring in technology experts to fix the website.

After healthcare.gov got up to speed, Park also helped create the U.S. Digital Service, which is now headed by former Google employee Mikey Dickerson.

Prior to his time as the US CTO and associate director of the Office of Science & Technology Policy, Park was the CTO of HHS and worked in the private sector. An official announcement from the White House is expected soon, the source said.

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FBI nears completion on massive digitization effort http://fedscoop.com/fbi-nears-completion-massive-digitization-effort/ http://fedscoop.com/fbi-nears-completion-massive-digitization-effort/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 19:26:01 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=62456 The FBI next month is scheduled to complete the monumental task of digitizing millions of criminal history files, civil records and fingerprint cards, the agency announced Friday.

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The FBI next month is scheduled to complete the monumental task of digitizing millions of criminal history files, civil records and fingerprint cards, the agency announced Friday.

In an extensive online multimedia posting, the bureau said it is just weeks away from completing a 20-year effort to digitize more than 30 million criminal history files and civil identity records and 83 million fingerprint cards. The files have been stored in large steel filing cabinets that have outgrown the FBI’s cavernous warehouse space in its Washington, D.C., headquarters building and at the Criminal Justice Information Services Division’s warehouse in Fairmont, West Virginia.

The digitization effort, expected to be completed in September, is part of the FBI’s Next Generation Identification system, a state-of-the-art biometric identification platform that has already cut the time it takes the bureau to match fingerprints to identities from hours to just minutes or seconds. NGI will fully replace the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, known as IAFIS.

The FBI is in the process of removing and destroying its paper-based criminal files as it completes a massive digitization process as part of the Next Generation Identification System. (Photo: FBI)

The FBI is in the process of removing and destroying its paper-based criminal files as it completes a massive digitization process as part of the Next Generation Identification System. (Photo: FBI)

“This is a monumental leap for us, because now we’re not taking months to get back with a positive identification,” Jeremy Wiltz, deputy assistant director at CJIS, said in a statement. “With our Next Generation Identification, we’re going to take that into seconds and sub-seconds.”

“Currently, right now, we don’t have anybody that does searching in the files,” said Donna Ray, an area manager with CJIS who’s managed the FBI’s records since 1974. “Everything’s been automated. Right now we’re preparing the files for destruction.”

The files that have undergone digital conversion include criminal history files dating back to the early 1970s and before; civil identity files of people born prior to 1960 who enlisted in the military or applied for a government job; and fingerprint index cards. Files are maintained until individuals are 110 years old or dead.

The FBI awarded the 10-year, $1 billion NGI contract in 2008 to Lockheed Martin Transportation and Security Solutions. But a protest by IBM Corp. delayed the contract from getting started until 2011. In 2010, CJIS broke ground on a new Biometric Technology Center and redoubled its efforts, digitizing 8.8 million files in two years.


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NIST producing guide to help government vet mobile apps http://fedscoop.com/nist-mobile-apps-guide/ http://fedscoop.com/nist-mobile-apps-guide/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:13:56 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=62438 The National Institute of Standards and Technology knows that even the best apps can have unseen and undiscovered vulnerabilities. With agencies trying to balance the versatility of mobility with also keeping data secure, NIST is asking for the public's help in creating a guide that will allow agency security analysts to scrutinize mobile apps.

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(cc-licensed Jason A. Howie | https://flic.kr/p/d41HES)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology knows that even the best apps can have unseen and undiscovered vulnerabilities. With agencies trying to balance the versatility of mobility with keeping data secure, NIST is asking for the public’s help in creating a guide that will allow agency security analysts to scrutinize mobile apps.

The publication will include standard requirements, tools and techniques for testing mobile apps, with a focus on security, functionality, performance and reliability so agencies can find and close vulnerabilities before data becomes compromised.

“Agencies and organizations need to know what a mobile app really does and to be aware of its potential privacy and security impact so they can mitigate any potential risks,” said NIST computer scientist Tom Karygiannis in a statement.

NIST’s guide will include common ways apps can hold personally identifiable information, such as when apps hold tracking information through a Wi-Fi connection, GPS location or other identifiers stored in social media or calendar apps.

“Apps with malware can even make a phone call recording and forward conversations without its owner knowing it,” Karygiannis said.

In addition to outlining how to test for malicious code, the guide will point out ways apps can zap productivity because of an intense workload or a drain on battery life.

The document will serve as a set of recommendations rather than a step-by-step guide, with NIST saying each agency should take into account what apps each department uses in order to do its job.

The guide plans to highlight common vulnerabilities on applications that run on both iOS and Android platforms.

NIST is accepting comments for the publication until September 18.

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Preparing for America’s ‘next great industry’: Drones http://fedscoop.com/private-sector-prepares-uas-integration-advance-faas-2015-deadline/ http://fedscoop.com/private-sector-prepares-uas-integration-advance-faas-2015-deadline/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:09:04 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=62442 As the Federal Aviation Administration conducts tests and reaches out to universities to research the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace, commercial and recreational enthusiasts are not waiting for the agency’s 2015 deadline – they’re making sure the industry is ready when that day comes.

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As the Federal Aviation Administration conducts tests and reaches out to universities to research the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace, commercial and recreational enthusiasts are not waiting for the agency’s 2015 deadline—they’re making sure the industry is ready when that day comes.

Mark Morrisson, the executive director of SOAR Oregon—a not-for-profit economic development organization focusing on drone industry development in Oregon—said the organization is attempting to fill a gap missed by the aviation industry.

According to data released from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, within the first three years of UAS integration, the industry could have an economic impact of more than $13.6 billion. By 2025, the organization said that economic impact could grow to more than $80 billion.

With the industry projected to grow so rapidly, Morrisson said it raised the question of where the industry’s projected 70,000 jobs within the first three years would come from.

“We’ve been ignoring curriculum [that could aid in UAS development] that starts at middle school,” Morrisson told FedScoop. “We’re a little late.”

To start the process of remedying the knowledge gap, SOAR Oregon is hosting an aerial robotics innovation day Friday in Bend, Oregon.

The event, sponsored by Intel, kicks off with an invitation-only breakfast for business and education leaders, after which the organization will host a hands-on lab session for kids challenging participants to solve a community problem using aerial robotics.

“Intel is the biggest employer in the state of Oregon,” Nigel Ballard, Intel’s director of federal marketing said. “If we can infuse kids from a young age with robotics, electronics, grabbing out a soldering iron and joining one component to another, I think that will be very good for Intel’s Oregon recruitment down the road.”

Demand for the event has been more than anticipated. According to Morrison, the initial breakfast was supposed to be limited to 50 participants; however, it has since grown to more than 70, and the organization is now having to turn people away. According to a release from SOAR Oregon, more than 200 people have signed up.

The innovation day will end with presentations and demonstrations from the finalists of the national AUVSI Drone Prize Contest, who demonstrated drone uses for agriculture mapping, community safety preparation, law enforcement and bomb detection and prevention.

“[We need UAS investment] as it involves precision agriculture – enabling farmers to be better, more efficient farmers. The UAVs/drones, call them whatever you will, once you’ve seen one of those with a multi-spectral camera go over a field and then 20 minutes later, you’ve got the entire field mapped out—every single plant that’s healthy, which ones are dry and which ones have too much fertilizer or too little—you realize, there’s just no going back,” Ballard said. “The days of walking through a field and grabbing hold of a leaf, that’s just done.”

Despite the fact that drone technology is already implemented and integrated in several places around the globe, Morrisson called drones the United States’ next great industry.

“I don’t think it’s beyond us to leapfrog over the rest of the world [with drone technology] for a variety of reasons,” Morrisson said. “Integration will be the most important thing that the FAA has done to date.”

According to the FAA’s inspector general, the agency is behind schedule to integrate drones into the national airspace. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told FedScoop last week that although Congress mandated the agency to integrate small UAS into the airspace by 2015, they also mandated the agency do so safely. According to Huerta, the latter concern is more important.

Morrisson, although eager for integration to happen as quickly as possible, sympathized with the agency’s struggles to integrate on time.

“One thing we’re failing to remember is that the FAA is still under sequestration,” Morrisson said. “The money to facilitate integration hasn’t been appropriated. You’ve asked the agency to conduct one of the most important infrastructure tasks since the interstate highway system, yet there’s no money to do the job.”

So as the FAA moves through the process of integration, Morrisson said the innovation day was an opportunity to get interested and excited people, both recreationally and commercially, in the same room to talk about UAVs.

“It’s been the recreationalists crashing drones in Yellowstone, but what we want to do is prepare our community for the potential economic impact that a brand new industry will bring,” Morrisson said. “The conversation should be moving to investments to be made in education and infrastructure.”

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Issa launches investigation into USPTO telework abuse http://fedscoop.com/issa-launches-investigation-alleged-uspto-telework-abuse/ http://fedscoop.com/issa-launches-investigation-alleged-uspto-telework-abuse/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:52:22 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=62435 The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced Tuesday it has launched an investigation into alleged abuses of telework privileges at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Issa claims telework abuse and fraud has been a significant contributor to the massive backlog of patent applications and said such activity appears to be widespread.

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The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced Tuesday it has launched an investigation into alleged abuses of telework privileges at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In a letter to Commerce Department Secretary Penny Pritzker, committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the scandal, which was first reported by the Washington Post, comes at a bad time for USPTO.

“The Post’s report comes at a time when examiners are apparently falling behind on one of the core functions of the agency,” Issa wrote. “The USPTO reportedly has a backlog of patent applications of over 600,000 and an approximate wait time of more than five years. Despite patent examiners generally receiving salary at the top of the federal pay scale – some making $148,000 a year – it appears the telework program is not serving its intended purpose to produce more efficiency. The waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement described by the Post is unacceptable.”

Issa claims telework abuse and fraud has been a significant contributor to the massive backlog of patent applications and said such activity appears to be widespread. Last week, however, USPTO Deputy Director Michelle Lee reassured attendees at a Patent Public Advisory Committee meeting that the abuses were “isolated problems in our telework and timekeeping systems” and said “the evidence did not support a finding of widespread or systemic abuses.”

It’s not uncommon, though, for Issa’s committee to look into this kind of alleged fraud and waste.

“This Committee has historically examined instances of wasteful spending and mismanagement at federal agencies,” he wrote. “For example, during the Committee’s April 16, 2012, hearing on the 2010 General Services Administration conference in Las Vegas, Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle agreed that a number of egregious examples of waste occurred there — including the hiring of a clown, a $31,000 reception, and a team-building exercise that cost $75,000. Similar gaps in internal agency controls seem to exist at the USPTO.”

While USPTO hasn’t reportedly hired any clowns, the initial USPTO internal investigation did cite one patent examiner who claimed 265.5 hours of work for which there was no evidence and $12,533.02 in pay for those fraudulently claimed hours.

“The [assistant deputy commissioners] refused to allow the [technology center] to use the computer records as evidence; as such, the examiner was not charged with time fraud,” the report said.

Issa asked Pritzker to deliver to him not later than Sept. 2 all documents and communications related to internal reports and all documents and information given to the Commerce Office of the Inspector General related to the allegations in the report. Pritzker will also have to testify before the oversight committee on the matter.

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Threat Matrix: Episode 23—The NSA’s move beyond Snowden http://fedscoop.com/threat-matrix-episode-23-nsas-move-beyond-snowden/ http://fedscoop.com/threat-matrix-episode-23-nsas-move-beyond-snowden/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:43:06 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=62434 In this episode, FedScoop Editorial Director Dan Verton explores the National Security Agency's new approach to dealing with the fallout of the Edward Snowden leaks and the media firestorm that doesn't show any signs of going away. As Verton discovers in interviews with NSA employees, the agency's new director Adm. Michael Rogers has no plans to allow Snowden and others to define NSA's history.

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Threat Matrix brings you insight into the latest news and trends in cybersecurity and national security.

In this episode, FedScoop Editorial Director Dan Verton explores the National Security Agency’s new approach to dealing with the fallout of the Edward Snowden leaks and the media firestorm that doesn’t show any signs of going away. As Verton discovers in interviews with NSA employees, the agency’s new director Adm. Michael Rogers has no plans to allow Snowden and others to define NSA’s history.

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Amazon Web Services gets first DISA approval for all 5 data security levels http://fedscoop.com/amazon-web-services-gets-first-disa-approval-5-data-security-levels/ http://fedscoop.com/amazon-web-services-gets-first-disa-approval-5-data-security-levels/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:30:23 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=62411 The authorization makes Amazon's GovCloud the first cloud service able to hold every level of unclassified DOD data.

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Photo: Tech&Net

Photo: Tech&Net

Amazon announced Thursday that its Amazon Web Services platform has been given provisional authorization from the Defense Information Systems Agency to hold Defense Department data above a level 2 security impact clearance.

The authorization makes Amazon’s GovCloud the first cloud service to hold every level of unclassified DOD data.

“What that allows DOD is the ability to run any workload that’s not classified, they can run that [data] on the cloud,” Teresa Carlson, vice president of Amazon’s global public sector, told FedScoop. “It’s exciting for the Department of Defense because it allows them to access the cloud in new ways that they haven’t been able to do before and really run the key mass workloads that they have.”

In a blog post, Amazon said the Defense Department will be able to “implement a wide range of DOD requirements necessary to protect their data at these levels, including AWS Direct Connect routing to the DoD’s network, comprehensive computer network defense coverage and Common Access Card (CAC) integration.”

Carlson said GovCloud had to go through additional controls above the the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) in order to meet DISA’s criteria.
DailyScoop: Amazon Webservices

“Initially achieving FedRAMP and now being the first company to achieve DOD levels 3-5, this demonstrates we are really committed to what our customers’ security and compliance regimes are,” she said. “The community has really spoken out that they are ready to make this move, it’s their next step forward into transitioning into cloud computing and we are there to support them every step of the way.”

“AWS customers across all branches of the DOD have begun driving efficiencies and reducing costs using the AWS DOD Provisional Authorization for Impact Levels 1-2, and we are very excited to further extend our services to support an even broader set of sensitive workloads,” said Steven J. Spano, Amazon Web Services’s general manager of defense and national security. “This is the most stringent reusable authorization the government has issued to date, and we are very excited to continue to innovate on behalf of the government community to provide the most secure, reliable cloud infrastructure in support of their missions.”

The announcement comes as the Central Intelligence Agency’s private cloud, run on Amazon Web Services, went live at the beginning of the month. Amazon was awarded a $600 million contract to build the CIA cloud last year.

At DISA’s forecast to industry Wednesday, Chief Information Assurance Executive Marc Orndorff hinted that “one cloud provider who is at level 3-5″ would be part of DOD’s upcoming five cloud pilots for sensitive data, but would not reveal the commercial provider when asked. Twenty-four hours later, Amazon made its announcement. 

Any agency interested in procuring AWS can make a cloud service request through DISA’s Enterprise Cloud Service Broker.

 

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DARPA seeks modeling help to combat Chikungunya virus http://fedscoop.com/darpa-asks-help-combating-chikungunya-virus/ http://fedscoop.com/darpa-asks-help-combating-chikungunya-virus/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 21:10:50 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=62402 To help organize a defense against a potential outbreak of the Chikungunya virus, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is asking teams to try and come up with an accurate model to forecast the spread of the disease in the United States and the Caribbean, where CHIKV is already becoming widespread.

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The country is under attack. Over the summer, a virus that had never made landfall within the continental United States silently began to infect people in Florida, spread from person to person by mosquitoes. Called Chikungunya, (CHIKV) its name is a Makonde word which means “that which bends up.” While it’s rarely fatal, it can cause debilitating joint pain, including chronic pain that can last for years even after people regain their health.

Aside from the personal misery the disease can cause, authorities have no way to map the potential spread of the virus, a situation that leaves the government and health organizations largely in the dark when trying to fight this emerging health crisis.

To help organize a defense against this potential epidemic, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has issued the CHIKV Challenge, asking teams to come up with an accurate model to forecast the spread of the disease in the United States and the Caribbean, where CHIKV is already widely spreading. Models and predictions will be compared to actual CHIKV infection reports over the next six months to check for accuracy. The challenge is open to anyone, and winning teams can earn huge cash awards up to $150,000. But teams will need to hurry, as the first month’s prediction is due on Sept. 1.

Modeling the pending spread of the Chikungunya virus is quite a challenge, but teams who can noodle through that problem can earn as much as $150,000 - as well as helping to tackle an emerging threat to national security.

Modeling the pending spread of the Chikungunya virus is quite a challenge, but teams who can noodle through that problem can earn as much as $150,000 – as well as helping to tackle an emerging threat to national security.

The challenge is led by DARPA Program Manager Matt Hepburn, an Army colonel who has spent most of his career as an infectious diseases physician. Hepburn explained that almost every case of CHIKV in the United States has been from travelers who are infected elsewhere and then diagnosed once they arrive back home.

But in August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that four people living in Florida who had not been traveling contracted the disease, meaning they were exposed to CHIKV from a mosquito bite. Unlike similar diseases, like West Nile virus, that are spread by mosquitoes that often pick it up after biting infected animals, CHIKV is only transmitted through mosquitoes that have previously bitten an infected human. But with 640 known cases of the disease living in people who have brought it back to the U.S., there are quite a few potential targets that could cause CHIKV to spread.

Hepburn said he would like to see people who are not normally involved with combating infectious diseases participate in the challenge, since they might provide an innovative modeling solution not previously considered. “We are looking for a creative solution outside of the public health disciplines,” Hepburn said. “Perhaps someone like a meteorologist who makes accurate weather predictions or someone who works in applied mathematics can present the most accurate model.”

DARPA has fast-tracked the challenge because it considers CHIKV an active threat requiring a working model be put in place soon to predict its spread. In addition, Hepburn said he wants to reward teams based on both accuracy and speed, with accuracy checked each month against the actual reported number of cases.

Hepburn said he is excited about the CHIKV challenge because traditional modeling uses historical data to try and match results, whereas with CHIKV, almost nothing is known about its potential to spread. Models will likely need to take into account mosquito populations, life cycles, the climate and the number of international travelers in an area to predict what is actually happening.

“What we hope is that we energize interest in the topic,” he said. “And when we find people who are successful, we want to highlight that success.”

Hepburn said he was inspired to create the CHIKV challenge after seeing the good results CDC had last year with its Influenza Challenge. He hopes the DARPA challenge will see similar success and participation, with results reaching beyond the CHIKV virus. One big question Hepburn wants to answer after the challenge is whether the most successful CHIKV spread model can also be applied to other diseases.

So, anyone looking to help combat a growing threat to national security and who wants to pick up $150,000 should join the CHIKV challenge. But hurry, the first prediction is due just a week from now.

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Feds, industry brainstorm future of government efficiency http://fedscoop.com/lowering-the-cost-of-government-it-2014/ http://fedscoop.com/lowering-the-cost-of-government-it-2014/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 20:48:55 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=62408 Government and industry IT leaders gathered Thursday at FedScoop's Sixth Annual Lowering the Cost of Government With IT Summit to brainstorm ways agencies can leverage emerging technologies to create a more cost-effective and smarter government.

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Sonny Hashmi, chief information officer at the General Services Administration, provided a keynote presentation Thursday at FedScoop's 6th Annual Lowering the Cost of Government With IT Summit in Washington, D.C.

Sonny Hashmi, chief information officer at the General Services Administration, provided a keynote presentation Thursday at FedScoop’s 6th Annual Lowering the Cost of Government With IT Summit in Washington, D.C. (Photo: FedScoop)

One of the best places to find an approach to lowering the cost of government IT can be found in the way people use the Internet when they aren’t at work.

“You do it at home today, you go out and leverage the capabilities of the Internet and don’t think twice about it, but somehow when you go to work, that changes,” David Bennett, chief information officer at the Defense Information Systems Agency, said Thursday.

Bennett was among two dozen agency and industry leaders who spoke at FedScoop’s sixth-annual Lowering the Cost of Government summit in Washington, D.C.

DISA CIO David Bennett (Photo: FedScoop)

DISA CIO David Bennett
(Photo: FedScoop)

As federal budgets continue to shrink due to sequestration, the summit’s speakers addressed ways agencies can leverage technologies to operate not only cheaper, but smarter.

“The federal IT clock is running at about $2,500 a second. I calculate by the time I’m done with this presentation, we will have racked up millions,” said Suparno Banerjee, VP of public sector programs for HP.

“How do we start thinking about this equation when the income stream itself is compromised? That’s why I believe the conversation will eventually shift to value creation—shift to not what we do…but how do we get maximum value for every dollar that we spend?”

A number of panels focused on the value created by integrating mobility into agencies’ IT strategies. A number of panelists said that mobility is no longer an idea for the future, but a reality that should be leveraged to keep up with the modern workforce.

“Think about the history of our business, we always had a vision that saw this coming, but there was always something that wasn’t quite there,” said Mark Day, acting deputy assistant commissioner for Integrated Technology Services at the General Services Administration. “Now, we’re there. We just need people to free themselves from form-factor thinking.”

Chris Roberts, global public sector vice president for Good Technologies said the prime focus of mobility should be on outcomes.

“If you have people that want to work alone, or people working on [an] iPad, I don’t care, as long as we get to the right outcome,” Roberts said.

Mobility is at the heart of Sonny Hashmi’s central mission with the GSA. The agency’s CIO told a story of an agency employee using a WiFi connection from a Pep Boys parking lot in New Jersey in order to purchase supplies for first responder teams in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

“We’re doing stuff in the last few years that folks used to say could never be done,” Hashmi said. “It’s part and parcel how smart companies are delivering on their mission and value.”

Hashmi said he also closely watches private companies to learn how government can leverage big data, with a special eye for online real estate database Zillow and business review site Yelp.

Zillow and Yelp have “taken data that is available to all of us and packaged it in a way that is vital for customers, brings data to the forefront, levels social media on top, and gives tremendous value to the end user,” Hashmi said.

The move toward harnessing big data has come so far that Army Lt. Col Bobby Saxon sees the term becoming obsolete by the end of the decade.

“We won’t be talking big data in five years,” Saxon said. “The technology is evolving so fast and predictive analytics are coming into play.”

As agencies find ways to lowere their costs, Hashmi said he hopes people realize IT is no longer just an overhead cost, but a way for agencies to shape their primary mission.

“Modern companies are leveraging IT as a strategic arm of their business,” Hashmi said. “If you look at what modern companies are doing today, IT is not an overhead function, it’s how they market, sell, track their company’s entire organization. It’s time for IT to grow up, move out of the basement and attend the board meetings.”

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DISA forecasts further movement into the cloud http://fedscoop.com/disa-forecast-to-industry/ http://fedscoop.com/disa-forecast-to-industry/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 21:46:30 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=62370 DISA CIO David Bennett says the agency is ready to look at any and every option available when it comes to procuring commercial cloud services.

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As the Defense Information Systems Agency looks to reorganize as military missions abroad wind down and the Defense Department deals with mandatory spending cuts, the focus is falling on the cloud.

Chief Information Officer David Bennett said at DISA’s forecast to industry Wednesday the agency is still feeling out how they will move forward with commercial cloud, but is ready to look at any and every option available.

“We will not rule out anything at this point in terms of how we would execute our cloud function,” Bennett said.

Bennett does say he has a team that plans to focus on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), with emphasis on having products reach data security levels above where they currently stand.

“As we look at this cloud security model, we’re going to look to put a vehicle in place that will give us stability to host not only levels 1 and 2, which house publicly releasable information, but levels 3, 4, and 5, unclassified but sensitive information” such as personally identifiable information (PII).

Bennett said the cloud services DISA is considering differ from milCloud — a cloud services portfolio that manages DOD applications — in that some data stored on future cloud services will sit outside DOD’s “fence line.”

“I fully expect we will put things fully out in the commercial cloud, for instance, publicly released information, we’ll just put it out there and forget about it. We’ll keep it updated, but, we’re not gonna put any controls on it,” Bennett said. “But for the higher level of information, like PII or [health information], we can put that into a commercial facility, but we want to have some awareness of what’s going on with that information and extend the fence line around that enclave so we can maintain awareness.”

DISA is looking to leverage cloud services to support everyone from senior leadership to soldiers in the  field.

DISA is looking to leverage cloud services to support everyone from senior leadership to soldiers in the field.

Bennett also sees a focus in “unified capabilities” – a suite of software that manages voice, video and other data services across a consolidated network — with DISA’s approach mirroring their cloud-based strategy.

“We have things that we want to do to gain lessons learned and then roll that into a longer term strategy,” Bennett said. “This is going to be one of those things, in my opinion, that’s going to be a significant game-changer within the agency.”

Change is already coming to unified capabilities, with Jessie Showers, vice director of network services, saying DISA is expecting to fully move from a fixed switched network to an all-IP network no later than 2016. Showers also said DISA is shutting down its legacy video solution to use a new global video service that’s expected to reach initial operational capability in November.

“We’re posturing the greater organization of DISA to be better prepared for what we see our future as,” said Army Major General Alan R. Lynn, vice director of DISA. “We are having a lot more collaborative work with the services. We have always been in the cyber business, but that business keeps increasing. We see ourselves more and more involved.”

Lynn said the reorganization is part of a changing dynamic that will allow DISA to better protect and serve the military’s own networks.

“I think the services are doing a great job of protecting their networks,” Lynn said. “What we want better capability and better visibility on is all the data feeds that they have. Let’s say they have attack vectors coming toward them, they all can see those individually. Where we would have greater impact is if we could see the total picture of the attack so we could do the large data analytics and spread the word to other services.”

Other points of focus for Bennett include:

  • Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements (JELA), which allow DISA to combine contract requirements with military branches and other agencies in order to “incentivize industry to provide best pricing.” DISA started using JELAs last year, and wants to use them particularly with the U.S. Air Force and Army moving forward.  “We want to leverage JELAs at every opportunity so that we get the best price for the customers,” Bennett said.
  • Consolidating more than a hundred global service desks into one virtual desk, a project that is already underway and keeping with an application rationalization directive that calls for the DOD to analyze and move applications that are not on a local service to one of eight enterprise-level data centers in the continental U.S. “It’s a contract vehicle we are looking to put in place that would be available for the services to leverage as part of their process of analysis of their application. We’re trying to help the services at-large execute their mission by providing a vehicle by which they can do some things they have to do [which are] tied to moving their applications into the data centers.”

Slides from multiple presentations during the forecast are available on DISA’s website.

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