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What an NFL Coach, the Pentagon and Election Systems Have in Common

By Frank Konkel // October 19, 2016

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick // Steven Senne/AP

Sometimes, old-school paper trumps new-school technology.

Bill Belichick, the hoodie-wearing head coach of the New England Patriots, lashed out against the tablets and coach-to-player communications devices his team and others around the National Football League employ with increasing frequency. Cameras caught him smashing a Microsoft Surface tablet on the sideline.

“I'm done with the tablets. I've given them as much time as I can give them, they're just too undependable for me,” Belichick said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “I'm going to stick with pictures as several of our other coaches do as well because there just isn't enough consistency in the performance of the tablets, so I just can't take it anymore.”

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The normally tight-lipped Grumpy Cat of a head coach—known for his disdain for revealing even a modicum of information at press conferences—went on to introspectively detail how other tech-related communications, including helmet headsets, “fail on a regular basis.” He detailed several instances where technology failures actually impacted football games.

“Overall, there is a lot of complexity to the technology,” Belichick said...

Join Us Thursday For Contracting Conversation Over Cocktails

By Frank Konkel // October 18, 2016

Joshua Resnick/

2016 was another big year for federal IT contracting, and Thursday, Nextgov and Defense One will forecast what’s in store for 2017 with an expert panel over cocktails.

We’ll touch on the General Services Administration’s addition of four new special item numbers for cyber services on Schedule 70; the proposed IT modernization fund legislation; takeaways from the Professional Services Council’s CIO report; lowest price technically acceptable and bid protest trends; and slew of other acquisition-related issues sure to impact the next year and coming administration.

Our speakers include:

  • Deniece Peterson, director of federal market analysis at Deltek;
  • Kay Ely, deputy assistant commissioner and acting director, Office of IT Schedule Programs, Office of Integrated Technology Services, General Services Administration; and
  • Dave Wennergren, executive vice president, operations and technology, Professional Services Council.

For more information or to register, click here.

Ready, Set, Pitch: Executive Leadership Conference Shakes up Format

By Frank Konkel // October 12, 2016

In keeping with the #ChangeAgent mantra of its government chair—Federal Communications Commission Chief Information Officer David Bray—the decades-old Executive Leadership Conference looks like it has modernized.

The event runs from Oct. 23-25 in Williamsburg, Virginia, and the meat of the agenda includes “co-creation” and center-stage sessions. Co-creation sessions will include a series of pitches themed around transformational leadership, agile government and disruptive technology. The winning idea will get to present to the Office of Management and Budget and the presidential transition team.

Bray told Nextgov to expect a diverse array of speakers, with conference organizers pushing hard to make panels include one member of the Senior Executive Service, one GS 13-15 and one CEO from the private sector. (The Government Executive Media Group is an ELC media partner.)

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Center-stage conversations will feature an atmosphere similar to the television show “Shark Tank” and a series of short, 12-minute presentations in two categories: “Voices of Change” and “Perfect Pitch.” Voices of Change presentations will discuss “what’s already working” in public service, Bray said, and the audience gets a say in which team ought...

GAO Gives Congress Emerging Tech Handbook

By Frank Konkel // October 5, 2016

everything possible/

The federal government’s watchdog is keeping its eyes on emerging technologies.

In late September, the Government Accountability Office released a lengthy report on opportunities and challenges the government is likely to face in the data and analytics innovation explosion.

The report is based off a January forum of industry, government, academic and nonprofit experts exploring current and future implications of emerging technologies for government. They dove into big data, analytics, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.​

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At approximately 100 pages, it’s an exhaustive look at everything from how algorithms and automated traffic light signals affect traffic flow to the potential global economic impact of open data and connected sensors might have. (Head’s up: GAO’s conservative estimate suggests open data could add $3.2 trillion to annual economic growth; connected sensors could add $2.7 trillion).

Unlike most investigatory GAO reports requested by Congress, this one doesn’t conclude with recommendations.

Rather, it’s likely to serve as a baseline for future work GAO conducts on emerging tech as well as an initial rubric for how Congress and its various...

Tech + Tequila: Tapping into Tech Hubs

By Frank Konkel // September 27, 2016

Brent Hofacker/

If there’s one thing we can say about the Obama administration’s tech legacy, it’s that civilian, military and intelligence agencies have made significant inroads seeking innovation from tech hubs outside the Beltway.

Agencies with various missions—from the Pentagon’s national security imperative to the Federal Communications Commission’s regulatory duties—are turning to the nation’s private-sector tech hubs for funky new ideas, talent and perspective.

It makes sense.

New organizations like 18F, the U.S. Digital Service and the Defense Digital Service are using hiring authorities to staff offices in and outside Washington, D.C. full of private-sector and academic tech talent, initiating two-way flows of ideas and information.

Chris Lynch, who heads the DDS, affectionately refers to these stints as “a tour of duty for nerds,” and there’s no doubt their impact is being felt.

On Thursday, Sept. 29, we’ll explore the relationship between the federal government and tech hubs with several panelists who’ve been a part of this influx of innovation and ideas. And we’ll do it over beers and tequila because that’s how we roll here at Nextgov.

We’re hosting two panels from 5:45-7:30...