Emerging Tech


Next Step in DOD-VA Health Records Sharing: Doctors’ Scribbles and Other ‘Unstructured’ Data

By Frank Konkel // November 24, 2015

Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock.com

The Defense Department announced to Congress last week it’s met stringent health records interoperability standards with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

VA should meet the same standards within a few months. That's important news for close to 20 million active duty and veteran beneficiaries on both respective health systems.

The skinny is this: Almost 30,000 clinicians and benefits analysts across both systems can use a Web-based tool called the Joint Legacy Viewer to pull patient data in real-time from close to 300 databases maintained by DOD and VA. That means a clinician seeing a veteran for the first time has access to his or her longitudinal health record – including tours of duty while serving, health summaries, technical medical data and an abundance of other data sets.

That alone is a significant improvement from as recently as five years ago, according to Chris Miller, program executive officer for DOD’s Healthcare Management Systems Modernization office.

In the near future, Miller hopes JLV, DOD’s future electronic health records system and other tools eliminate the need for veterans to have to carry around printed copies of their health records when they visit different facilities. It should also improve the...

User Feedback Key to USASpending.gov’s 2-Year Facelift

By Hallie Golden // November 13, 2015


With two years to go before key deadlines under the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act mandate a wave of new requirements for agencies submitting spending data to USASpending.gov, the Treasury Department is planning to revamp the website that tracks federal dollars. 

Treasury launched an open beta version of the site Nov. 10 that is expected to run alongside USASpending.gov for the next year. During that time, the public can review and test the site, as well as submit feedback and ideas before the final version goes live May 2017.

Treasury plans to update the beta site on a rolling basis based on the feedback it receives, according to a Treasury statement.

“Based on what we've seen in the past and in terms of website development, going with a beta site before launching the final version is absolutely a best practice,” said Carol Cha, director of information technology issues at the Government Accountability Office.

“I think that they're setting this up to make sure that they have what everyone wants when the DATA Act is fully implemented,” said Justin Duncan, policy associate at the Data Transparency Coalition, in an interview with Nextgov. “They want the platform that...

The Government Found Another 2,000 Data Centers

By Frank Konkel // November 12, 2015


Last week, Congress released a first assessment of how federal agencies are implementing the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act and immediately held a hearing to discuss why most of government received poor marks.

The hearing featured exchanges one might expect between the oversight bodies represented – the Government Accountability Office and members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee – and chief information officers defending their agencies and the government at large.

But there was one unscripted tidbit that raised some eyebrows.

In one exchange, GAO’s director of IT management issues, Dave Powner, revealed to FITARA co-author Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., that federal agencies reported 11,700 data centers, or 2,000 more data centers than GAO tallied across government in May 2014.

This reveal is just the latest M. Night Shyamalan-like plot twist for the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative -- the effort created by the Federal CIO Council in 2010 to close or optimize 40 percent of the government’s data centers. At the time, the number of data centers was estimated at 3,133. By 2013, the government estimated it had more than 6,000 data centers, and later that year, that number climbed to 7,000...

GSA Looks for New Chief Customer Officer

By Frank Konkel // October 29, 2015

Phaedra Chrousos of the Office of Citizen Services
Phaedra Chrousos of the Office of Citizen Services // Flickr user TechCrunch

The General Services Administration is in the initial stages of searching for a new chief customer officer.

Phaedra Chrousos held the position over the past year, while jointly serving as associate administrator of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

Chrousos will now focus solely on her OCSIT role, while GSA seeks a new leader for the agency’s growing customer-oriented office.

The job has not yet been posted, but Chrousos announced the opening in an email shared with a federal customer experience listserv.

The position sits in the GSA administrator’s office and has a dedicated team and budget.

“The CCO team was created to test the hypothesis that a dedicated, empowered team could improve customer experience in the government the way it does in the private sector,” she wrote in the announcement

In the first year, the CCO team focused on “serving as a SWAT team for GSA’s high-priority customer experience issues,” Chrousos said.

GSA’s efforts to “focus on the voice of the customer” mirror a larger push by the Obama administration to improve customer experience across government.

Customer experience is now one of the White House’ cross-agency priority goals, and President Barack Obama...

Tech Jobs are Tops for Work-Life Balance

By Frank Konkel // October 20, 2015

Illustration of the, ... ]
Illustration of the, ... ] // Sudowoodo/Shutterstock.com

Damn, it feels good to be a data scientist.

Glassdoor, the website you use to glean feedback about a prospective employer, released its 25 Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance study today, and tech jobs comprise more than half of it.

Data scientists reported the highest work-life balance rating in a list that included SEO managers, UX designers, digital marketing managers, Web designers and developers, software engineers and data analysts.

Rating were based on a 5-point scale – a “1.0” translating to very dissatisfied and a “5.0” meaning very satisfied. Tech jobs seem to be attractive because they are in demand, can often be done remotely and frequently command high salaries, The Washington Post posited.

That data scientists take the cake shouldn’t be a surprise. The Harvard Business Review called it the “sexiest job of the 21st century.” DJ Patil, the White House chief data scientist, noted earlier this year that people who put “data scientist” in their LinkedIn profiles can actually “make more money.”  

However, the government may be missing the boat on tech talent precisely because of these factors.

While Glassdoor’s data glamorizes tech-related jobs, data from the Office of Personnel Management’s Employee Viewpoint Survey...