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Nextgov Event: All in on Artificial Intelligence

By Frank Konkel // March 21, 2017

Christian Lagerek/

Artificial intelligence is all the rage in government right now—and for good reason.

Complex software written on ever-evolving hardware and computing capabilities has the potential to disrupt the economy by trillions of dollars, could provide instantaneous customer feedback to millions of customers, help humanity get to Mars and beyond, and a whole lot more.

The federal government will be intimately involved in either creating policies by which AI, machine learning and other emerging technologies are governed or in creating applications for those technologies itself. In many cases, agencies are already all in on AI, having taken initial steps to begin pilots, projects and collaborations with academic institutions and industry.

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On Thursday, at our next Tech and Tequila meet-up, we’ll explore advancements in AI policies and applications across both civilian government and the national security apparatus.  

Speakers include Justin Herman, digital communities and open government lead at the General Services Administration and Terah Lyons, former policy adviser at the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, who will talk about policy and collaborative efforts in AI in the federal community.


Nextgov Event: Improving Customer Satisfaction in Government

By Frank Konkel // March 3, 2017

Den Rise/

The Rolling Stones had it right.

By almost any measure, 300-plus million citizens and customers of the federal government can’t get no satisfaction, a problem the Obama administration picked up on that now falls to the new President Donald Trump.

While the Obama administration elevated customer service to its management agenda, there’s an air of uncertainty regarding the level of import Trump will place on customer service. Will the billionaire mogul make customer service a priority for government—much as it is in the private sector and business world—or are his proposed budget cuts and hiring freeze a signal that dollars matter the most to this administration?

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When it comes to customer service, can the government really do more with less?

We’ll discuss these issues and others Thursday, March 9, at our Federal Customer Experience Summit of 2017. We’ve themed this event—our fifth since 2014—on building a citizen-centric government, with an emphasis on discussing how some agencies have improved customer satisfaction.

We’ll hear how the National Weather Services is forging partnerships with other agencies to save...

Nextgov Event: Dig into Data Science

By Frank Konkel // February 28, 2017

HelloRF Zcool/

In 2012, the Harvard Business Review proclaimed the position of data scientist as the “sexiest job of the 21st century,” suggesting data science had the power to shape the future.

Five years later, it’s appropriate to ask how the government is making use of data scientists.

On Thursday, we at Nextgov will do just that, discussing data science with three data scientists across government at our first Innovation After Hours event of 2017. The event runs from 5:45 to 7:30 p.m. at ImpactHub, 419 7th St. NW.

Our speakers include Jeff Chen, acting chief data officer for the Commerce Department, Peter Casey, senior data scientist for the city of Washington, D.C., and Dr. Terry Adams, program manager at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.

Discussion topics will include a nuanced chat about the job itself, as well as cool projects our speakers are working on and how the field of data science is changing. Specifically, we’ll talk about the intelligence community is researching on activity recognition in video, how the city of Washington, D.C., is using data to reduce the rodent population and how the Commerce Department is building a team of data...

Tech + Tequila: Come See How the Government is Using Drones for Good

By Frank Konkel // February 17, 2017

Nati Harnik/AP File Photo

Drones represent one of the most promising emerging technologies of the 21st century, and the federal government is primed to take advantage of the assortment of unmanned aerial systems entering this growing market.

Yet, it might surprise many to learn that drones are already being used for more than military reconnaissance and strikes in wartime popularized in nightly news and TV dramas. While military applications are certainly driving an important segment of the drone market, civilian agencies and academic institutions are working to shape new policies and develop innovative ways to use them.

On Thursday, we at Nextgov will kick off our second season of Tech + Tequila events with a thorough look at how federal agencies are using drones now, and how they’re planning to use them in the future. In addition, we’ll talk about the changing policy landscape shaping how the country handles an influx of unmanned aerial vehicles.

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In our case studies session, Mark Bathrick, director of the Interior Department’s Office of Aviation Services, will discuss how the department uses drones to tabulate wildlife and safely explore terrain too...

How a Flooded Data Center Sparked a Cloud Migration Effort

By Frank Konkel // February 16, 2017


Cinderella’s '80s power ballad “You Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” hints at love lost and found, but for federal agencies and their vast IT inventories, they often just don’t know what they've got.

That’s according to Maria Roat, who became the chief information officer at the Small Business Administration in late 2016 and found a CFO Act agency with a host of IT issues.

“The week before I arrived [in October], there was water coming in on the floor,” Roat stated Thursday at the ATARC Federal Cloud and Data Summit in Washington. Roat had decided to tour a data center in SBA’s Beltway headquarters after a stormy evening.

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“It was not a good position to be in,” Roat said. “I took a hard look and asked my team, ‘what’s in there?’”

Roat said her IT staff, which includes 61 federal employees in her office and 110 outside it, brought her “four different lists of stuff in there.”

At that moment, Roat began piloting the agency toward cloud computing and a more modern infrastructure...

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