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What Every Government Leader Should Know About Blockchain

By Aftab Hossain // October 20, 2017

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Aftab Hossain is a senior manager with Grant Thornton LLP, where he leads the firm’s Organizational Strategy & Effectiveness practice. He also is a member of the firm’s Blockchain Working Group.

You surely have heard the term blockchain recently, probably within the context of digital cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum. As a concept and technology beyond currency, blockchain has the potential to revolutionize both public and private sector business models.

As a management consultant, I have spent my career helping public sector organizations transform their structures and operations in the face of disruptive external forces. When I look at blockchain, I see one of the most potentially disruptive forces since the widespread adoption of the internet.

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A blockchain is a distributed, digital ledger that publicly and permanently records transactions made against it. That definition almost sounds unremarkable, but blockchain is not just a technology revolution: It is a trust revolution. Any intermediary which provides a service based upon being a trusted third party is at risk of being disrupted by blockchain technology.

Governments are some of the biggest purveyors of trust in the...

Are Careless Insiders the Biggest Federal Cyber Threat?

By John Breeden II // October 17, 2017

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John Breeden II is an award-winning journalist and reviewer with over 20 years of experience covering technology. He is the CEO of the Tech Writers Bureau, a group that creates technological thought leadership content for organizations of all sizes. Twitter: @LabGuys.

I always enjoy reading over the SolarWinds survey results each year. Directed at federal IT managers, who can remain anonymous, it gives a good snapshot view of the state of government cybersecurity from a knowledgeable group of feds without regard to office, agency or national politics.

It’s often not exceedingly positive in terms of painting a picture of agency technology. If anything, the yearly survey has shined a light on a few gaping inadequacies since it started in 2014. When asked their honest opinion about the state of a network, most system administrators will tell you the brutal truth, especially if their jobs aren’t on the line.

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This year’s survey results are particularly interesting, especially given what was identified as the greatest threat to federal cybersecurity.

First off, it’s important to note that there were some very positive things...

Using Technology to Aid the Opioid Crisis' Innocent Victims

By Mark Forman and Denise Winkler // October 16, 2017

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Mark Forman, former U.S. Administrator for E-Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget, is global head of Public Sector at Unisys.

Denise Winkler, a senior engagement manager at Unisys, has served as an administrator and senior advisor to government health and human services systems in California, New York, Ohio and other states.

The morning headlines and nightly newscasts remind us every day of how persistent our nation’s opioid epidemic has become. More than 33,000 people overdosed from a prescription or illicit opioids in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s more than 90 people a day, with thousands of children caught in an already overwhelmed system over the past three years.

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Today’s technologies can help governments address this risk to children. The possibilities start from the moment a caseworker identifies substance abuse as a problem. While technology is already used for monitoring the prescription and dissemination of opioids and to collect and analyze abuse and overdose data, there is much untapped potential.

Why not an automated application and approval process? While an in-person...

Here’s How to Make Patching Security Holes Easier For Everyone

By CyberAvengers // October 13, 2017

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The #CyberAvengers are a group of salty and experienced professionals who have decided to work together to help keep this nation and its data safe and secure. They are Paul Ferrillo, Chuck Brooks, Kenneth Holley, George Platsis, George Thomas, Shawn Tuma and Christophe Veltsos.

A lot has been said recently about patching and what role it plays in cybersecurity. A patch is just a small piece of software, made available to the consumer from the software company that “patches” a security flaw in the software. That’s all. But these patches, when installed, can save you a world of hurt.

Many of the worst breaches we have seen could have been avoided if patches were installed in a timely manner. Before we start getting flak that patching for an entire enterprise is not some “flick of the switch” easy procedure, we’re on your side. We agree with you. You need a system in place so you can roll out these patches on all devices within your enterprise. The biggest problem for enterprise-sized organizations is not so much installing the patches but managing the logistics behind patching an entire system. It’s more project management than anything, so you need...

Customer Experience Bills Pose Hidden Risks for Citizens

By Brian Michael // October 11, 2017

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Brian Michael is general manager of the public sector practice at Medallia.

“Of the people, by the people, for the people.” In its simplest and most straightforward definition, the primary role of government is to serve its citizens. Government services frame and fuel our everyday lives by providing public education, responding to disasters and emergencies, maintaining the safety of our citizens, or protecting our natural resources.

And although government is the ultimate service-oriented organization, its core objective is often focused on maximizing efficiency and effectiveness rather than on improving the overall citizen-to-government experience—and federal agencies have the satisfaction numbers to match.

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The Federal Agency Customer Experience Act of 2017 (S.1088, sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and H.R.2846, sponsored by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas,) is a clear indicator that federal agency priorities are shifting as they relate to improving the citizen experience. The bills will empower agencies to gather voluntary feedback through their citizen-facing channels and then subsequently develop a scorecard for each agency based on citizen satisfaction.

This legislation is a positive first step at helping agencies to focus...