Friday, July 28, 2017
The IBM Center's Weekly Roundup highlights articles and insights that we found interesting for the week ending July 28, 2017.

Michael J. Keegan


Agencies should look to industry for scaling shared services. Adopting standards and building partnerships with industry will accelerate agencies' ability to take advantage of shared services, says a GSA executive.


18F seeks to streamline ATO process. Innovation group 18F has launched an interagency project to make it easier for federal agencies to adopt commercial software and products.  Project Boise’s goals are “to reduce the burden (time, cost and pain) and improve the effectiveness of the federal government’s software security compliance processes,” according to a statement posted on GitHub. Those security compliance processes require agencies to obtain an authority to operate (ATO) before adopting commercial software and entail additional requirements depending on individual agencies’ rules. Those reviews can be handled by government employees or third parties, but they add a bureaucratic hurdle for agencies that want to use commercial products.  

A good-news story about cost control. The cost performance of DOD's weapons systems has been improving recently, and it hasn't

7 steps to unlock the value of cognitive category management.  In my previous commentary, I discussed how the private sector has used category management, combined with cognitive capabilities, to unlock significant value. By adapting Federal Acquisition Regulation practices and applying lessons from initial pilots in the federal government, the potential for $340 billion in savings, as outlined by the Technology CEO Council, is possible. The dawn of the cognitive era has brought forth two game-changing capabilities. First, cognitive tools can capture and interpret unstructured data, such as text, speech or images. Considering that 80 percent of all information that humans capture and process is unstructured, this vastly expands the data set for analysis and provides more insight to the procurement decision.

Army dealing with changes even without a civilian leader. Despite operating without a secretary for the last six months and losing two nominees for the position, the Army seems to be getting by without its top civilian post filled. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the situation is not ideal, but the Army is making due with what it can.


John Kamensky


State Implementation Support Centers. The Pew Charitable Trusts has released a report on how some states have created “implementation support centers” to help non-profit service providers and local government with the nitty-gritty of implementing new programs.

Shared Services SavingsFederal News Radio interviewed Sean Torpey, acting CIO for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) : “During the first year of using shared services for email and other capabilities, Torpey said the FAA saved or avoided spending $36 million. . . . “That was a big win for us,” he said. “Our infrastructure and operations budget we were able to cut operations by 40 percent one year and that was able to be kicked back into implementing a wireless and WiFi solution around the country.”

Transition Praise.  Government Executive reports: “Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson praised career civil servants Thursday in a speech at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, saying they have been crucial in maintaining HUD operations despite a vacuum in the agency’s political leadership.”

100 Tools for Using Evidence. The non-profit Results for All “conducted a landscape review of the strategies and mechanisms – policies, programs, platforms, systems and operational practices – governments [around the globe] are using to advance the use of data and evidence in decision making. The review highlights key factors and enabling conditions for evidence-informed policymaking and identifies more than 100 strategies and mechanisms that are helping to promote the use of data and evidence in government policy and practice.”

Trust and TransparencyGovernment Executive excerpts from a new book by Don Kettl: “ . . . citizens will place more trust in organizations whose behavior is more trustworthy - and whose trustworthiness they can readily see. But if the case for transparency seems self-evident, the reality is far more complex for five reasons.”

FDA to Use Drones?  Government Executive reports: “Aerial drones could soon replace some of the Food and Drug Administration’s health inspectors, . . . . Drones could help detect food poisoning or disease outbreaks before they happen, maybe even by scanning riverbeds for sewage contamination near seafood sources.”


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Brian LeeThe Business of Government Hour: Brian Lee, Chief Public Health Informatics Officer, Office of Public Health Scientific Services, CDC

What is public health surveillance? How do emerging health information technologies improve public health data? How is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using innovative solutions to tackle public health surveillance challenges? Join host Michael Keegan next week as he explores these questions with Brian Lee, Chief Public Health Informatics Officer within the Office of Public Health Scientific Services at CDC.


Broadcast Schedule: The show airs Monday at 11 a.m., and Friday at 1 p.m. on Federal News Radio 1500AM WFED