FedScoop » News http://fedscoop.com Federal technology news and events Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:22:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 NASA, FAA team up to improve air traffic control http://fedscoop.com/nasa-faa-team-improve-air-traffic-control/ http://fedscoop.com/nasa-faa-team-improve-air-traffic-control/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 22:05:51 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=61198 The Federal Aviation Administration is getting some help from NASA to make air traffic controlling more efficient.

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Source: NASA

The Terminal Sequencing and Spacing Technology takes into account ways to improve the efficiency of air traffic controlling. Source: NASA

The Federal Aviation Administration is getting some help from NASA to make air traffic management more efficient. 

Terminal sequencing and spacing technology, a new computer software tool for air traffic controllers, works to manage the spacing between air traffic as aircraft fly in and out of airports. The tool, created by NASA, is designed to aid planes and save fuel by making the air traffic control process more seamless and efficient.

With NextGen, NASA and the FAA aim to improve how air traffic is routed around busy hubs like the northeast. Source: NASA

With NextGen, NASA and the FAA aim to improve how air traffic is routed around busy hubs like the northeast.
Source: NASA

To improve efficiency, the software employs performance-based navigation procedures, which according to a NASA release, result in a reduction in controller-pilot communication and fewer flight path changes.

“With TSS, NASA’s aeronautics innovators have delivered to the FAA another valuable tool that will soon benefit our environment, our economy and every individual traveler,” Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics research, said in the release.

TSS, according to the FAA, is an airport-centric technology. The software will utilize figurative “corner posts,” which are navigational points in the sky approximately 40 miles from the airport.

“Terminal Sequence and Spacing helps controllers manage aircraft from the four corner posts down to the runway,” a FAA release said.

The new TSS software is an addition to NASA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System. The effort is a multi-agency collaboration to update and improve the way air traffic control works.

According to Leighton Quon, project manager of NextGen, the program is developed by NASA but implemented by the FAA.

Development of TSS began in 2009, piloted by the agency’s Airspace Systems Program, which is a part of the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. The first prototype for TSS was developed in 2011,  and since then, the prototypes have been tested in more than a dozen “high-fidelity simulations involving controllers and pilots.”

The FAA will reportedly deploy the tool sometime before 2018 and has yet to secure funding or a test location. The FAA said in the release it expects to make a full investment decision about the TSS project by the end of the year. Funding will be allocated through FAA’s Joint Resources Council.

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Senate defense spending bill slashes IT by half-billion, uplifts cyber http://fedscoop.com/senate-defense-spending-bill-slashes-half-billion-uplifts-cyber/ http://fedscoop.com/senate-defense-spending-bill-slashes-half-billion-uplifts-cyber/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 22:02:40 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=61186 The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a fiscal year 2015 Defense Department spending bill Thursday that would cut defense IT spending by a half-billion and reduce President Obama's military budget requests by $1.4 billion overall.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and ranking member Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., during the full committee markup of the fiscal year 2015 defense appropriations bill. (Credit: Senate Appropriations Committee)

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and ranking member Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., during the full committee markup of the fiscal year 2015 defense appropriations bill. (Credit: Senate Appropriations Committee)

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a defense spending bill Thursday that would cut defense IT funding by a half-billion dollars and reduce President Obama’s military budget requests by $1.4 billion overall.

Listed as a way to increase efficiency in the department and reduce spending, the committee recommended a $500 million reduction in appropriations for non-cyber IT programs departmentwide as part of the fiscal year 2015 Defense Appropriations bill. “Trimming IT funding will help prioritize and better target non-cybersecurity IT investments in an era of fiscal constraint,” according to a summary of the bill from committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.

While the Senate Appropriations Committee recognized DOD’s efforts to improve IT efficiency and reduce waste, it said in a report accompanying the bill it “found a number of discrepancies where the resources reflected in the IT budget did not correlate to the operation and maintenance budget justification.” When it comes to enterprise IT in the department, the report states, the goal is to “reduce the cost associated with the Department’s overall information technology infrastructure by simplifying, centralizing, and automating infrastructure at the enterprise level.”

Though the Senate committee aims to condense IT spending, that doesn’t mean it’s losing sight of preserving and advancing DOD’s technological edge. The department’s primary technological concern is to become “more effective and more secure against cyber threats and vulnerabilities,” the report said. And that’s why, despite the greater cuts, cyber got some boosts from the Senate version of the defense budget.

The committee awarded the National Security Agency an additional $7.5 million for its National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and Information Assurance Research, a program that allows NSA’s Information Systems Security Program to conduct classified research with approved universities.

The bill also grants DOD an additional $10 million for insider threat detection. The report commends the department for its progress in reducing the internal threats with practices such as end-user auditing, but it also recognized that the programs aren’t used robustly. Therefore, it allocated the additional budget to make the tools more widespread.

Combing through the bill, there are several other cyber initiatives with additional funding tacked on, like an added $12.5 million for general cyber force training and resiliency and $4.1 million for Cyber RED team training.

Additionally, the committee granted 5 percent increases to both innovative medical research, a $789 million bump, and basic research to all four military branches and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an additional $257 million.

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DARPA wants help answering ‘trillion-dollar questions’ in the smallest way possible http://fedscoop.com/darpa-microsystems-expo/ http://fedscoop.com/darpa-microsystems-expo/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 21:51:05 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=61262 DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office held an expo Friday presenting the new areas in which it's concentrating its efforts to facilitate collaboration between academics, industry and government that will continue to push the boundaries of microsystem technology.

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Bill Chappell and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Microsystems Technology Office has some great ideas. But it’s looking for help.

DARPA’s MTO held an expo Friday presenting the new areas in which it’s concentrating its efforts to facilitate collaboration between academics, industry and government that will continue to push the boundaries of microsystem technology.

Chappell has organized the office’s focus into four main areas, or what DARPA calls “thrusts:” electromagnetic spectrum, decentralization, information microsystems and globalization.

“Today is about saying DARPA is the place where you do the big inventions, the capstones of your career that will hopefully change the world in a very literal sense,” Chappell said Friday, adding that the thrusts are a “re-evaluation of why we are doing some of the microsystems we are doing.”

Some concerns in each thrust mirror issues the federal government and global tech community have been wrangling with in the past few years.

The information microsystems thrust is focused on processing the massive amounts of data the world continuously creates, even as engineers are beginning to reach the end of Moore’s Law, or the ability to double processing speed every two years.

Joseph Cross, a MTO program manager, used an interesting analogy to sum up the current state of processing systems: Imagine you are rich and you employed a very smart butler. A year later, your accountant fires the butler and replaces him with two butlers who cost less, but aren’t as smart. The next few years, your accountant keeps adding cheaper-but-dumber butlers to save money.

“Until one day, you open your balcony doors and out on your veranda are 1,000 drooling butlers,” Cross said. “The fact that they are dumb is fine if you want them to paint a fence. It isn’t fine if you want them to make a hollandaise sauce for your breakfast.”

The “hollandaise” Cross is referring to is the vast amount of data the military produces that needs to be utilized. To give perspective to the amount of stress the modern military puts on data processors: One Global Hawk drone uses 500 percent of the bandwidth the entire U.S. military used during the Gulf War.

“The number of transistors has been going up, that’s good, but the ways to use them efficiently have either hit a wall or [are] projected to hit a wall from an engineering perspective,” Chappell said.

Another growing concern for the military is component counterfeiting, which DARPA is looking to tackle through the globalization thrust.

Daniel Green, another project manager, presented slides of transistors and semiconductors that have been forged or tampered with in order to look like components normally sold by Intel.

“In the past, we’ve sort of buried our head in the sand,” Chappell said. “One of DARPA’s roles is to be the leading indicator of what’s going to happen and to avoid strategic surprise.”

While studying how counterfeit components end up in global supply chains is more a business focus, Chappell said it will ultimately be beneficial for the military.

“We have to embrace to global supply chain, but we have to do it in a way so you trust the components that show up on shore,” Chappell said. “If you only upgrade your technology every 20 years, with the fact that we are getting new electronics on a yearly basis, that doesn’t really work for us. We have to show [the military] how to get there through advanced research.”

While the focus of the MTO has been to make things as small as possible, they also want those looking to get involved to figure out how to make things cheaper.

“Cost is now killing us,” DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar said. “It’s a self inflicted wound, but it’s a very serious issue.”

But Chuck Wolf, deputy director of DARPA’s Adaptive Execution Office, said anyone who steps up will have eager “beta testers” ready and willing in the military.

“It doesn’t need to be earth-shattering,” Wolf said. “These improvements can be incremental.”

“We’ve always done advanced computing,” Chappell said. “When that stops, who is going to figure out these trillion-dollar questions?”

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IN FOCUS: VA technology and security http://fedscoop.com/focus-veterans-technology-security/ http://fedscoop.com/focus-veterans-technology-security/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 20:23:22 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=61182 FedScoop has been at the forefront of investigative reporting into the Department of Veterans Affairs and its efforts to deploy leading-edge information technology to improve its ability to serve millions of veterans and secure their private information.

In Focus: VA Technology and Security, provides a one-stop-shop for our ongoing coverage of the people, policies and technologies behind VA's cyber struggles and the efforts to reform an agency under siege.

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VA-IT-IN-FOCUS FedScoop has been at the forefront of investigative reporting into the Department of Veterans Affairs and its efforts to deploy leading-edge information technology to improve its ability to serve millions of veterans and secure their private information.

In Focus: VA Technology and Security, provides a one-stop-shop for our ongoing coverage of the people, policies and technologies behind VA’s cyber struggles and the efforts to reform an agency under siege. Our coverage is posted chronologically. This page will be updated as new stories are published.

Jeff Miller VAMiller calls on VA to answer for cybersecurity shortfalls

Thursday, July 17, 2014 · 7:00 am House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., has called on five senior VA officials, including acting Secretary Sloan Gibson, to testify at next week’s scheduled hearing on “longstanding information security weaknesses” that have enabled “data manipulation” throughout the agency. Documents obtained exclusively by FedScoop show that in addition to Gibson, the committee plans to question Assistant Secretary for Information Security Stan Lowe, Executive Director for Enterprise Risk Management Tina Burnette and …

 

 

Schliesman-and-Trinka-VAVA adds two more execs to senior IT team

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 · 11:49 am The embattled Department of Veterans Affairs recently hired a new assistant deputy chief information officer for IT project management and product development and a chief learning officer for the Office of Information and Technology, according to an internal email obtained by FedScoop. The July 8 email from CIO Stephen Warren welcomes the addition of Steve Schliesman as the new assistant deputy CIO for project management and product development. The former director of the agency’s major transformation initiatives under ousted Secretary Eric Shinseki — the so-called Secretary’s 16 Major Initiatives — Schliesman will lead the management of various VA projects, including “developing and deploying applications and systems that provide world class health care services and benefits to our Nation’s Veterans,” Warren said in the email.

 

Mooney_VA_2Joan Mooney, VA’s liaison to Congress, retires

Monday, June 23, 2014 · 12:26 pm The senior executive responsible for managing the Department of Veterans Affairs’ contentious relationship with Congress and ensuring the agency’s cooperation with independent audits by the Government Accountability Office retired June 20, FedScoop has learned. Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs Joan Mooney has left the government after more than 20 years of service, the last five of which she spent overseeing VA’s responses to tens of thousands of congressional inquiries on everything from major privacy breaches and hacking incidents to the recent scandal involving informal wait lists.

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Threat Matrix: Episode 22—Securing the ‘Google era’ electric grid http://fedscoop.com/threat-matrix-episode-22-securing-google-era-electric-grid/ http://fedscoop.com/threat-matrix-episode-22-securing-google-era-electric-grid/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:36:21 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=61167 In this episode of Threat Matrix, we look at a new report released July 15 by a group of national security experts that calls on Congress to immediately pass legislation that would enable real-time information sharing between the government and the private sector on cyber threats to the nation’s electric grid.

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

In this episode of Threat Matrix, we look at a report released July 15 by a group of national security experts that calls on Congress to immediately pass legislation enabling real-time information sharing between the government and the private sector on cyber threats to the nation’s electric grid.

The report by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress — led by former White House Chief of Staff Thomas McLarty III and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge — traces in great detail the technological changes fundamentally transforming the electric industry and warns those same technologies are creating new vulnerabilities for the “most critical of critical infrastructure” in the nation.

Threat Matrix attended the press conference featuring House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and ranking Democrat Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md.

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Anti-social: Feds wonder why social media companies drag feet on accessibility issues http://fedscoop.com/social-media-accessibility/ http://fedscoop.com/social-media-accessibility/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 21:57:09 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=61150 The Federal Communications Commission hosted a panel of experts Thursday to talk about the challenges and ongoing need to make social media platforms more accessible to those with disabilities. But there was one group of representatives that was notably absent from the proceedings: the social media companies themselves.

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social_media_accessibility

A panel held at the FCC Thursday to discuss how to open up social networks to the disabled was missing a key contingent: the social media companies themselves. (cc-licensed Jason A. Howie | https://flic.kr/p/d41HES)

The Federal Communications Commission hosted a panel of experts Thursday to talk about the challenges and ongoing need to make social media platforms more accessible to those with disabilities. But there was one group of representatives notably absent from the proceedings: the social media companies themselves.

Of the major social media networks discussed Thursday, only representatives from LinkedIn and open source content management system Drupal attended the FCC’s “Accessing Social Media” event.

Justin Herman, who leads federal social media efforts at the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, said one top social media firm declined an invitation because the company knew their “accessibility was terrible.”

“You’ll find this a lot, that platforms and applications are quite familiar with the fact that they are not very accessible and they can do better,” Herman said.

Another panel member, Janice Lehrer-Stein, chair of the Access and Integration Committee for the National Council on Disability, said in the past she has reached out to Facebook as a private citizen in order to start a dialogue about accessibility. When Lehrer-Stein — who is blind — first delved into Facebook, she “was very challenged,” but said the company was very open and “discussed issues that were barriers” in her use of the platform. Those discussions helped serve as inspiration for meetings NCD held with a number of federal agencies, including the FCC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Labor Department, on how the government can make social media accessible. They also led to a number of online dialogues hosted on ePolicyWorks that created benchmarks for departments to focus on, including captioning online videos. Last week, the FCC voted to require captions on online videos starting in 2016.

“One of the primary focuses is trying to determine the means for opening up social media to people with print and hearing disabilities, along with mobility and intellectual disabilities,” Lehrer-Stein said. “There are tremendous benefits to making social media accessible.”

Mike Reardon, a policy supervisor with the Labor Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, said making social media accessible to the disabled only goes so far: The services have to work well or frustration is going to quickly set in. “For a lot of people, they don’t realize there is a difference between accessibility and usability,” Reardon said. “A service can be 508 compliant, but barely usable. Usability is a much more important standard for us than accessibility.”

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that federal agencies’ electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities.

Reardon said creating a dialogue with platform developers is crucial, otherwise nothing will ever progress. He cited his discussions with HackPad after people complained about accessibility issues for SocialGov’s Social Media Accessibility toolkit. “We can’t demand perfection, nothing is perfect out of the box,” Reardon said. “We do need to make sure, however, that there is a feedback loop to the developers.”

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai spoke about some of the efforts to create accessibility to social networks, highlighting EasyChirp, a web-accessible Twitter alternative that has been optimized for the disabled. “Think about what a great thing that is,” Pai said. “There’s so many millions of people thanks to EasyChirp that are able to access the same platform and participate in the public square.”

While workarounds do help, Herman was dismayed by the lack of attendance from the social media companies. “We’re talking about emergency management information that will save lives and there’s empty seats here today,” Herman said. “I think that should really make people upset.”

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Survey suggests federal network complexity is limiting data center consolidation http://fedscoop.com/survey-suggests-federal-network-complexity-limiting-data-center-consolidation/ http://fedscoop.com/survey-suggests-federal-network-complexity-limiting-data-center-consolidation/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 21:00:06 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=61132 Is federal network complexity holding the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative back?

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The Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative affects every government agency and is monitored closely on Capitol Hill. But after some impressive initial gains, the effort is beginning to show signs of slowing. One survey released this week hints at some of the reasons consolidation is so difficult, namely the increasing complexity of federal networks.

According to a survey by Brocade, federal networks are getting too complex, and that may be keeping FDCCI from meeting its pending deadlines.

According to a survey by Brocade, federal networks are getting too complex, and that may be hurting FDCCI from meeting its pending deadlines.

FDCCI began as a realistic and reasonable effort to get a handle on the number of government data centers. Back in 1998, there were 432 data centers serving the entire federal government. That’s actually quite a lot. It means having to power, protect, patch and maintain a lot of real estate. But even that number grew. By 2009, there were more than 1,100 data centers serving the government, and plans were in place to bring even more online.

To stop that rapid growth, then U.S. chief information officer Vivek Kundra created FDCCI. The goal was to close more than 800 data centers by 2015, putting the government below its 1998 footing in terms of data centers.

Initially, the FDCCI went well, with more than 400 data centers closed pretty quickly. However, once the low-hanging fruit were eliminated, the effort slowed down, and it’s now an open question whether FDCCI will reach its original goals by deadline. Congress even got into the act with worried senators introducing a bill in November that would make FDCCI a law and require agencies to report on their data center closure plans.

So why the slowdown? If this were astronomy, there would be some undiscovered dark matter working against FDCCI. That counterforce may be federal network complexity if the results of a new survey put out by MeriTalk and Brocade is any indication.

I spoke with Director of Systems Engineering for Brocade Daemon Morrell about the survey and its results and what that means for FDCCI. He wasn’t at all surprised about the initiative to close federal data centers getting stalled. “The complexity of some of those federal data centers today doesn’t really lend itself to consolidation,” he said.

The reason for that may be the networks themselves, which are increasing in complexity beyond many agencies’ ability to fully manage them, much less consolidate the data centers on the backend. According to the survey, which was conducted with a large group of federal agency administrators, 54 percent said their network complexity has increased in the past year and 68 percent believe it will continue to increase over the next three years. More shocking, a full 94 percent said they have experienced downtime as a result of the complexity that has impacted their agency mission over the past year.

When asked what was driving the complexity, Morrell put the blame squarely on two main factors: the quest toward greater mobility by allowing employees to bring their own devices and the creation of new legacy systems to handle the mobility problems. “One really drives the other,” he said. “What we are seeing is that agencies have problems with their mobility programs and then vendors come in with these quick-hit, proprietary solutions that fix the small problem but don’t mesh with anything else.”

One thing Brocade recommends to reduce that complexity is the use of nonproprietary protocols such as IP or Ethernet Fabrics for every solution. While Spanning Tree is a nonproprietary protocol, it is no longer being widely adopted. Morrell said in a perfect world, standards would make navigating data center consolidation much like driving a car across the country, which is defined by a set of universal rules like driving on the right side of the road, red meaning stop and signs being written in English. By contrast, now it’s like trying to make that same drive across fifty states each with a different set of rules. For FDCCI, proprietary rules and standards make data center consolidation much harder because agencies have to decide which program to keep and which to destroy, whereas universal standards would make a merger much simpler.

It seems the old problem of what to do with stovepipe systems didn’t die off in the ’80s and ’90s. No wonder FDCCI has hit a bit of a roadblock.

Using open standards may not be a silver bullet, but it should go a long way to reducing complexity. In addition to moving to open standards, respondents suggested a few other things that might improve federal networks and reduce complexity, such as adding bandwidth (44 percent), increasing redundancy (28 percent) and increasing virtual networking/software-defined networking (22 percent).

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GSA rolls out dashboard for Connections II purchases http://fedscoop.com/gsa-rolls-dashboard-connections-ii-purchases/ http://fedscoop.com/gsa-rolls-dashboard-connections-ii-purchases/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 20:34:28 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=61124 Accessing non-classified government purchasing data just got a little easier with the launch of the General Services Administration’s Connections II dashboard.

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Accessing non-classified government purchasing data just got a little easier with the launch of the General Services Administration’s Connections II dashboard. 

Announced in a July 14 blog post by Mary Davie, GSA’s assistant commissioner in the Office of Integrated Technology Services, the dashboard will create a single point of access for all purchasing activity awarded under GSA’s Connections II, an award program for telecom equipment, labor, building and campus infrastructure solution needs. 

“Data turned into actionable information will allow government to buy smarter, help agencies make better buying decisions, and lead to smoother bid and proposal processes,” Davie wrote in the post. “More information can help agencies better understand purchasing trends, conduct better market research, and be better negotiators. Ultimately, government buying decisions based on consistent, shared information deliver dollar savings to U.S. taxpayers.”

The dashboard displays a bar graph of the non-classified Connections II purchasing data for the Homeland Security Department. Source: GSA Connections II Dashboard

The dashboard displays a bar graph of the non-classified Connections II purchasing data for the Homeland Security Department.
Source: GSA Connections II Dashboard

On the dashboard, users can view panels of data for total non-classified purchases under Connections II, purchases by federal agency and purchases made with an industry partner. Each panel contains data from 2012 to 2014 and has the capability to display the information in a bar or line graph. 

“Users have quick and easy access to the dashboard,” Davie said. “Search results display in easily understood lists, graphs, and charts. The real-time dashboard gives meaningful and timely program information–whether to industry or government – at any time. Users can search for specific items, sort data, and create and download custom reports.”

The new GSA dashboard is similar to the agency's GWAC dashboard which was released almost two years ago.

The new GSA dashboard is similar to the agency’s GWAC dashboard, which was released almost two years ago.

The launch of the dashboard is one part of the agency’s larger transparency efforts. In the fall of 2012, the GSA launched a similar dashboard for its Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts. And last month, Davie introduced Networx, the agency’s telecommunications program that collects data about what federal agencies are purchasing and how they are paying for it.

Davie said more than 136 federal agencies have used Networx to purchase more than $760 million worth of network and telecommunications services. In addition, GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service is working on a common acquisition platform, according to the post.

This platform will contain more tools, capabilities and governmentwide data on acquisition vehicles, intelligence and prices paid, according to Davie.

“We collectively are opening up data, sharing it, and working together to find additional value. At GSA, we look for ways to make government purchasing data more open, transparent, and accessible, and the Connections II dashboard is one way to do this,” Davie said. “We try to give customers and industry partners real-time data whenever they need it – at both the agency and order level so government can increase data quality and spend analysis, and make better business decisions, and so industry partners can tailor their offerings.”

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OPM launches interactive dashboard to boost workforce culture and engagement http://fedscoop.com/opm-launches-interactive-dashboard-boost-workforce-culture-engagement/ http://fedscoop.com/opm-launches-interactive-dashboard-boost-workforce-culture-engagement/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 20:25:56 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=61112 Furthering her pursuit of bolstered cultural excellence and engagement in the federal workforce, Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta announced Tuesday a new federal dashboard rooted in Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey data to give agencies a deeper understanding of their employees.

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Furthering her pursuit of a more engaged, higher performing federal workforce, Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta announced Tuesday a new federal dashboard rooted in Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey data to give agencies a deeper understanding of their employees.

Introduced as UnlockTalent.gov, the portal is an interactive tool for agency leaders to dig deeper into viewpoint survey and demographic data and use other human resources tools, like Enterprise Human Resources Integration data, for workforce insights. Archuleta wrote in an OPM blog post Tuesday that the dashboard will help leaders “better understand the data and it will give them the extra support they need to create the most effective engagement programs for their employees.”

Jonathan Foley, a director of planning and policy analysis for OPM, said before this tool, agencies would have to access multiple datasets on their own. But with OPM’s new dashboard, analyzing employee sentiment and managing the workforce becomes exceptionally easier.

“The value proposition for UnlockTalent.gov is that it: 1) combines multiple data sources in one easy to use tool; 2) is available online and on a variety of devices; 3) can be customized to include more data sources over time; and 4) uses the most current data visualization techniques to bring the data to life,” Foley wrote in an email to FedScoop. “This allows agencies a much clearer and more detailed look into their workforce which will allow them to design effective strategies to increase employee engagement and effectiveness.”

The first iteration of the dashboard was launched July 3 to agency deputy secretaries, chief human capital officers and performance improvement officers, though Foley said those officials have authority to distribute access as they see necessary. OPM is “encouraging agencies to provide access broadly to employees who would find this tool valuable in completing their agency missions as well as in cultivating a culture of engagement at their agency,” he said. But those outside the government or agency employees not granted access will have no luck typing “UnlockTalent.gov” into a browser.

To make UnlockTalent.gov a valuable asset in the modern, digital federal government, OPM uses “the latest data visualization tools to highlight key areas for action,” Foley said. To achieve that standard, the office built the dashboard in collaboration with representatives from 14 other agencies “who provided key advice on design of the system and helped test its features,” he said.

For those with access to the dashboard, the site is an iterative work in progress and may change from time to time. Foley said OPM is making “sure that [it's] responsive to user needs and that the tool can change over time to meet those needs.” OPM is also working with agencies on future iterations that will incorporate more functionality and data sources, including the ability for agencies to upload their own data, he said.

The UnlockTalent.gov dashboard serves as another OPM tool to satisfy the President’ Management Agenda priority of “People and Culture,” a innovative workforce initiative for which the office recently released a plan of action. Like the IT tools mentioned in that progress report, Foley said UnlockTalent.gov “is designed to be a resource that can assist agencies in making data-driven decisions to maximize and drive employee engagement and performance.”

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FedWire: DARPA’s spacedrone, VA bettering claims system and 18F’s API standards http://fedscoop.com/fedwire-darpas-spacedrone-va-bettering-claims-system-18fs-api-standards/ http://fedscoop.com/fedwire-darpas-spacedrone-va-bettering-claims-system-18fs-api-standards/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 17:04:31 +0000 http://fedscoop.com/?p=61114 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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FedWire

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

DARPA woking on a spacedrone.

VA looks to better digital integrity of claims system.

18F’s API standards.

IT is part of governmentwide human capital shortfalls. 

DHS showcases nuclear forensics efforts.

Army creates common technology marketplace.

Obama rides in self-driving car simulator:

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