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It's Time to Update the 30-Year-Old Electronic Communications Privacy Act

By Karen S. Evans // July 19, 2016

Karen S. Evans is a partner at KE&T Partners and the national director for the U.S. Cyber Challenge. She retired after nearly 28 years of federal government service with responsibilities ranging from a GS-2 to presidential appointee as the administrator for E-Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit announced its long-awaited decision in the dispute between Microsoft and the United States. In a landmark appeal decision, the court overturned the lower court’s ruling and permitted Microsoft to refuse to hand over its customer’s emails stored on its servers in another country.  

Many Americans may not understand why this decision is relevant to their daily lives: The federal government asserted tech companies own individuals’ personal information such as emails and photographs, and not the individuals themselves.  

This would give your personal information less privacy protection than the family notes you place in your dresser drawer at home. Multiple branches of government have important responsibilities in remedying this problem. The Court of Appeals has acted. Now, it’s time for Congress to modernize an outdated law.  

Over the last 30 years, Congress...

To Succeed in Cyberspace, Don’t Forget the Human Element

By Ariel Robinson // July 15, 2016

Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency
Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency // Lauren Victoria Burke/AP

Ariel Robinson is an independent analyst and freelance writer whose work has appeared in National Defense Magazine, Wonk Report, Defense One and elsewhere.

In his speech to the National Press Club yesterday, Adm. Michael Rogers reminded us of the most critical—and challenging—aspect of all cyber operations. While the technical elements are important, he said, “Never, ever forget the human dynamic.”

Since Rogers became director of the National Security Agency, chief of the Central Security Service and commander of Cyber Command in April 2014, he has been in the unenviable position of leading the institutions tasked with protecting our nation’s data and networks at a time when threats have been growing, budgets have been shrinking and incidents ranging from Snowden to the Office of Personnel Management hack continue to chip away at the public’s trust.

To succeed in cyberspace, whether as part of a CYBERCOM’s offensive or an NSA information assurance mission, Rogers reminds his teams, “Don’t forget that at the end, you're dealing with a choice that some human made on a keyboard somewhere.”

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Those humans can...

What’s Key to Driving Better Citizen Experience?

By Jason Manstof and Derek Larsen // July 12, 2016

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Jason Manstof is a Deloitte Consulting LLP principal in Monitor Deloitte’s Strategy Practice, and Derek Larsen is a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting LLP, Monitor Deloitte’s Strategy Practice.

It’s not hard to understand why the private sector is generally ahead of government when it comes to customer service. Market forces create a natural competition for customers, and many Fortune 500 companies employ a chief marketing officer or chief customer officer to initiate customer service improvements.    

According to the Chief Customer Council’s annual study, 22 percent of Fortune 100 companies and 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a CCO. Compare that to the estimated number of CCOs in the federal government, which according to Forrester Research is about four and not all of them use the title CCO.   

For the transition to a customer-experience focus to flourish, it needs a leader. The CCO role may be a fulltime assignment or be folded into the responsibilities of the CMO or another executive.

Cross-functional initiatives like customer experience can encounter significant barriers in people's resistance to change. This resistance is why it’s crucial for top organization leaders to believe in and stress the importance of the...

5 Tips to Help Agencies Win the Digital Race

By Nelson de la Cruz // July 11, 2016

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Nelson de la Cruz is a senior solutions architect at Software AG Government Solutions.

Every agency chief information officer faces the challenge of digital transformation. New technologies such as cloud and big data are opening opportunities to radically improve citizen engagement and streamline business operations. The race is on to embrace these opportunities and gain efficiencies toward the mission. 

As enterprise architects and IT portfolio managers search for methodologies and tools that facilitate successful digital transformation, there are five key action points that will prove vital to achieving their goals.

1. Set the Course for Your Digital Journey

This isn’t as simple as it sounds. A digital strategy is rarely in place at most agencies, or there are multiple conflicting strategies in different parts of the organization as each pursues its own digital vision.

Validating and streamlining strategy and understanding its impact on current and future capabilities will enable you to set the most efficient course. A critical part of validating your digital strategy is to know precisely what you intend to achieve, i.e. what outcomes are expected from different initiatives.

This should be quantifiable and measurable in order to monitor strategic achievement and make necessary adjustments to...

6 Things the Public Sector Can Learn from Banking

By Brian Gorham // July 7, 2016

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Brian Gorham is a sales manager with Escher Group.

Think about when you last wrote a paper check, withdrew money from a bank clerk or only had access to your balance during office hours. All these processes have drastically changed in the last few decades. The sector has evolved into one of the most innovative and progressive developers of technology.

It feels like a seamless development of staggering technological and organizational achievements. Everyday things such as credit cards, ATMs and online banking are all taken for granted. Banking has achieved a level of pre-eminence that has not been surpassed in terms of spending, innovation and progress.

To date, however, the public sector has not realized the same success in embracing many of the same digital solutions in which banks have become immersed. So, why has the public sector been challenged in this progressive direction?

It can be argued that there are obvious constraints and impediments that prevent government organizations from taking the lead in technology innovation and investment. Restricted budgets and recruitment freezes are major factors, but why does it significantly lag behind other industries and sectors?

In many ways, the banking sector has paved the way for public sector...