10 Facts about Federal Websites

By Ben Balter // May 12, 2015


Ben Balter is a government evangelist at GitHub and a former presidential innovation fellow. This column originally appeared May 11 on

In 2011 and then again in 2014, I used a small tool I wrote to crawl every site on the publicly available list of federal executive dot-gov domains to get a better sense of the state of federal IT, at least when it comes to agencies’ public-facing Web presence.

This weekend, I decided to resurrect that effort, with the recently updated list of dot-gov domains, and with a more finely tuned versions of the open source Site Inspector tool, thanks to some contributions from Eric Mill.

You can always compare them to the original 2011 or 2014 crawls, or browse the entire data set for yourself, but here are some highlights of what I found:

  • 1,177 of those domains are live (about 86 percent, up from 83 percent last year, and 73 percent originally)
  • Of those live domains, only 75 percent are reachable without the www. prefix, down from 83 percent last year
  • 722 sites return an AAAA record, the first step toward IPv6 compliance (up from 64 last year, and 10 before that, more than ...

4 Things to Consider when Revamping Agency Processes

By Darryn Graham // May 11, 2015


Darryn Graham is chief architect at Software AG Government Solutions.

As government agencies continue to try to be more agile and seek efficiencies across their environments, many are gaining ground by modernizing their business processes. Yet, evolving agency processes is not an easy task. One way to facilitate achieving business process improvement is to keep in mind these four guiding principles.

1. Evolving Processes is a Team Sport

Who would oppose more streamlined workflows, more trusted analytics and cost-savings to boot? As it turns out, many stakeholders may get in the way of progress if they are not involved, informed and incentivized to support process improvement initiatives.

Effective system design and workflow improvements no longer are the sole domain of enterprise architects or IT professionals. Today, these efforts require a host of participants collaborating to understand their “as-is” state and what it will take to arrive at the desired “to-be” processes that meet current requirements of service providers and beneficiaries.

But how do agency professionals foster this team effort in a large and complex enterprise? One method to guide improvements across multistakeholder workgroups is leveraging business process analytics. By effectively analyzing business processes, agencies can better understand how their processes ...

DATA Act at Year 1: In Need of a Growth Hormone

By Hudson Hollister and John Marshall // May 8, 2015


Hudson Hollister is founder and executive director of the Data Transparency Coalition and John Marshall is founder and CEO of the Shared Services Leadership Coalition.  

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act -- enacted unanimously by Congress last year and signed into law by the president on May 9, 2014 -- is about to celebrate its first birthday.

Before we break out the champagne to toast this important anniversary, let’s take stock of the past year. The truth is, this baby was nearly stillborn, and despite heroic life-support and ongoing nurturing from congressional procreators and adoptive parents in the executive branch, it’s bound to experience growing pains. The vision of the legislation has a long way to go to reach the full bloom of maturity.  

On the positive side, important groundwork has been started. The Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget are set to announce the basic data structure that will bring together all federal spending information as a single, searchable whole. These standards -- a set of common elements and a schema connecting them -- will transform federal spending from disconnected documents into open data. The deadline for this announcement? It's tomorrow.

Up until the DATA Act, agencies ...

Agency CIOs Need to Be Aware of the Dangers of Consumer Tech

By Jeff Gould // May 7, 2015


Jeff Gould is president of and CEO and director of research at Peerstone Research.

We’ve all heard about the benefits of consumerized IT for large organizations. Consumer technology is more innovative and faster moving than its enterprise counterpart. Just look at Apple, Google or Facebook and compare them to IBM, Oracle or SAP.

There is some truth in these claims. Consumer tech product cycles do move faster, in part because they are freed from the constraining requirements of backward compatibility and technical stability imposed on the enterprise. Consumer tech consists mostly of highly interactive websites or mobile apps that update themselves without being asked and increasingly runs on inexpensive devices destined to become obsolete only a year or two after release.

The intense disruptive pressure exercised by consumer tech on enterprise IT has undeniably benefited the latter, forcing it to modernize and make itself more accessible to users, system managers and developers alike.

Beyond “webification” or “appification,” the greatest positive impact of consumer tech on the enterprise undoubtedly lies in the move from premises-based computing to the cloud. While the transition is still in its early stages, it is difficult to doubt the economic and technical advantages ...

Does FITARA Guidance Go Far Enough in Optimizing Software Licenses?

By Jim Ryan // May 5, 2015


Jim Ryan is the chief operating officer at Flexera.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently held a hearing titled “Government Accountability Office’s Duplication Report at Five Years: Recommendations Remain Unaddressed.”

At the hearing, Beth Cobert, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, testified. She was questioned by committee member, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, from Illinois’ 8th District, who honed in very quickly on the subject of software license optimization:

"I noted that better management of software licenses is an area where savings can be achieved.  Can you please help me understand in OMB’s view how agencies can better manage their software licenses?  Specifically, I’d like to hear how OMB believes agencies should inventory that software to see how much of it is actually deployed to end users, and how much of what’s deployed is actually being put to use.”

Ms. Cobert’s response illustrates the depths of the federal government’s lack of progress in controlling waste due to poor software license management practices. In her testimony, Ms. Colbert noted that the government is developing a system for managing and inventorying its software licenses, which are procured on a highly ...