Friday, September 15, 2017
Back from a summer hiatus, the IBM Center's Weekly Roundup highlights articles and insights that we found interesting over the last couple of weeks.

Michael J. Keegan

Military IT chiefs want combat-ready infrastructure. A streamlined IT infrastructure isn't just efficient, it's essential to warfighting capabilities. "We as an industry embrace complexity, unfortunately," said Rear Adm. Nancy Norton, the vice director for the Defense Information Systems Agency during an AFCEA event featuring CIOs from each military branch on Sept. 14. "Part of our success is making complexity work," she continued, pointing out the slow and cumbersome nature of modernizing government IT.

Census delays field IT contract award. With a critical test now underway, the Census Bureau said it was pushing back an award for field technology to next year. To save billions and conduct a more smoothly run Census compared to the 2010 count, the bureau has hoped to lean on technology more than ever. They've awarded five commercial IT awards made since July 2016, with a total ceiling value of $2 billion. Census has two awards left to go.

Pick to lead GSA is popular, but faces political challenges. With her experience at the General Services Administration, the Small Business Administration and House Small Business Committee, Emily Murphy's confirmation as GSA administrator isn't in doubt, industry observers say. But she's going to face some tough questions from Congress before moving on to the challenges of running a large and complex agency.

The next big thing in IT procurement. Steve Kelman talks to the agencies that have embraced tech demos in their acquisition efforts -- and urges others in government to give it a try.

What's next for agency cyber efforts? When the White House issued its long-awaited executive order on cybersecurity in May, it formalized what many in government had long argued was necessary: adopting the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework and embracing enterprise risk management at every agency. FCW gathered cybersecurity leaders 90 days after the cyber order was issued and the date by which agencies were required to submit a written response to the Office of Management and Budget regarding their new risk assessments — and asked them to discuss their experiences to date. The discussion was on the record but not for individual attribution.

John Kamensky

Government Reorg:  Pick Low Hanging Fruit.  Government Executive reports: “Key senators from both parties at a hearing Wednesday encouraged the Trump administration to pursue “low-hanging fruit” as it tackles its reorganization of the executive branch, while leaving more ideological debates for separate fights.”

Government Reorg:  One-Stop SSA Fraud Unit. Federal News Radio reports “The Social Security Administration will bring its fraud and oversight sub-components under one roof this fall, as part of the Trump administration’s government reorganization plan” by creating “a new deputy-commissioner-level Office of Analytics, Review and Oversight. The agency reorganization would move six oversight offices from three departments into the new division.”

White House Touts Tech Modernization Plan.  Federal Times reports: “a draft report released this week by the White House’s American Technology Council and Office of American Innovation. . . . The Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization paints a picture of the present and ideal future state of federal IT, offering specific recommendations to “jumpstart a new wave of modernization efforts.”  The report calls for fewer networks and more shared services.

Evidence Based Policy Making Commission Report Debuts. The long-awaited reportoffers recommendations to increase evaluator access to existing federal administrative data while protecting the privacy of citizens.  Legislative action is expected on several of the recommendations. Federal News Radio highlights key recommendations to both provide broader data access and stronger privacy protections. SIRC reports that legislative action may occur in stages.

Changing Culture from Within. FedScoop reports that the Department of Veterans Affairs has created an internal innovation unit, and that unit focuses on creating a network of innovators that help improve operations for VA patients in hospitals and other venues.

Improving Customer Service: Be More Human.  NextGov writes: “Most people see interacting with the government as a tedious and impersonal task, but two agencies with spotty public image records want to improve customer experience by making the government work with citizens on a more human level. . . . The Transportation Security Administration and Veterans Affairs Department have both taken steps to make themselves more accessible and equipped to meet customer needs through person-to-person conversations.”

When Amazon Meets Government.  Government Executive reports that a provision in the House version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act may soon allow federal employees to “order office supplies, equipment, or even contract services Amazon-style, two-day delivery included.”

Using Big Data. RouteFifty reports that the city of Louisville, KY, works with the “navigation app Waze’s Connected Citizens data-sharing program, which seeks street, road closure and construction data from Louisville in return for anonymized trip information alerting the city to traffic jams, delays, accidents, potholes and downed limbs.” The city uses the data to predict traffic patterns and then changes the signal timing real time.

Management Matters. Federal Times reports: “To help agency leaders address IT reformation throughout the government, the Partnership for Public Service and Accenture Federal Services collaborated to create a brief entitled “Leading Ambitious Technology Reforms in Government.” The brief is the second in a series and provides agency leaders various explanations and helpful tips for reforming agency IT.” One of its key insights is that management matters as much if not more than the technology fix itself.

DATA Act’s Next Steps. Federal News Radio reports: “It took federal agencies’ four years to go from introduction to implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, so what will it take to get 2,300 grant-making programs and 3,200 procurement offices to do the same? . . . The Office of Management and Budget recommends three steps to help expedite the process: continue to standardize data, use auto-populating technology, and use IT open standards for developing any new tools needed along the way.

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The Business of Government Hour: Commander Eric Popiel, Program Manager for the US Coast Guard's Evergreen ProgramHow does the US Coast Guard use strategic foresight to inform decision making? What is the Evergreen process? How is the federal community sharing strategic foresight best practices? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and so much more with Commander Eric Popiel, Program Manager for the US Coast Guard's Evergreen Program.


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