recommended reading

ARCHIVES

Turning Damage Control into Digital Modernization

By Jeffrey Neal and Peter Wilson // April 1, 2016

Pavel Ignatov/Shutterstock.com

Jeff Neal is a senior vice president for ICF International and founder of the blog, ChiefHRO.com. Before coming to ICF, Neal was the chief human capital officer at the Homeland Security Department and the chief human resources officer at the Defense Logistics Agency.

Peter Wilson has more than 20 years of consulting experience within the U.S. federal government and in the areas of healthcare, Fortune 500, and nonprofits. He provides public- and private-sector thought leadership in technology, program and project management for ICF International. Pete was named a 2014 "rising star" by Federal Computer Week magazine.

Each year, the federal government spends approximately $37 billion to maintain the existing IT portfolio, and each year, costs to maintain and defend them against cyberthreats continue to increase.

President Obama’s recently published 2017 budget puts forward a $3.1 billion IT Modernization Fund to help “retire, replace, or modernize the federal government’s most at-risk legacy IT systems.”

The purpose of the fund is to help stimulate modernization of systems that are both high priority and high risk… and federal IT systems are at risk. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reported the draft policy was circulating among civilian agencies...

5 Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed This Tax Season

By Darren Guccione // March 29, 2016

The Internal Revenue Service headquarters building in Washington, DC.
The Internal Revenue Service headquarters building in Washington, DC. // J. David Ake/AP File Photo

Darren Guccione is CEO and co-founder of Keeper Security.

For many Americans, tax season can be quite stressful as the mid-April deadline quickly approaches. Adding to that stress is the fact that the Internal Revenue Service has had its own troubles this past year with keeping its data and systems secure. 

For me, personally, tax season is particularly intense because I am in the unique position of being both a cybersecurity technologist and a CPA. I know firsthand how important it is for tax information to be locked down and secure as we continue to see IRS scammers improving their game.

According to recent reports, tax scamming will cost the U.S. government $21 billion this year alone through fake refunds and fake IRS agent impersonators. The IRS reports the number of fake IRS scams is up by 400 percent.

In addition, this comes at a time when the Obama administration has a microscope on federal cybersecurity in the wake of major federal breaches, including the Office of Personnel Management. In February, the administration announced a $19 billion investment in cybersecurity and a $3.1 billion revolving fund to help replace aging government systems most vulnerable to cyberattacks.

On top...

New OMB Data Center Effort Can Help Break Agency Silos

By Randy Boggess // March 22, 2016

John Minchillo/AP

Randy Boggess is head of cloud solutions marketing, global portfolio team at Unify.

The new White House policy for optimizing data centers, as covered by Nextgov earlier this month, has for the most part been well received by government and industry. The Office of Management and Budget Data Center Optimization Initiative supersedes the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative launched by the OMB in 2010, and is designed to advance efforts beyond the physical closing of data centers to IT optimization.

The OMB draft policy also seeks to provide a framework for achieving data center consolidation and optimization by bringing data center guidance in line with the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, better defining the organizational reporting structure between bureau and agency level chief information officers, and providing metrics for data center optimization. 

Among other things, the policy would require agencies to develop annual data center consolidation plans and emphasize a cloud-first and shared services approach. More specifically, the OMB policy lines up favorably to ongoing agency data center consolidation efforts by providing a formal structure for reporting improvements in:

Cost Savings: Data center consolidation (fewer pieces of real estate); maximum server utilization (better use of resources); and improved energy efficiency...

How to Unleash the Full Potential of Government Digital Services

By Sean Applegate // March 21, 2016

Stefano Garau/Shutterstock.com

Sean Applegate is director of technology strategy & advanced solutions at Riverbed Technology.

The Obama administration's new 2017 budget tacked on $105 million to expand federal digital services, a very clear sign that citizen engagement is a top priority.

However, a recent report indicates agencies still struggle to improve customer service efforts—only 45 percent of government customers think agency representatives understand their needs, compared with 66 percent of private sector customers.

A key part of the problem is people have heightened expectations for digital experiences from the private sector and need only to look at their smartphones to recognize what “good” looks like.

Speed and performance matter, too. Even the best technology, designed specifically with end-user experience in mind, will be cast aside if it’s buggy, sluggish or prone to glitches. With increased cloud adoption, federal agency IT architectures are becoming more complex and harder to operate.

Now, more than ever, the performance of government applications and the networks that deliver them are vital to citizen experience, as well as government efficiencies.

Enter the new role of IT. Changes to underlying technologies will enable agencies to understand how their citizens interact with their applications and solve problem areas...

Is the New Post-Safe Harbor Data Privacy Law a Silver Bullet or a First Step?

By Bryan Cunningham // March 18, 2016

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va. // Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Bryan Cunningham is an information security, privacy, and data protection lawyer, and a senior adviser of The Chertoff Group, a security and risk management advisory firm. Formerly, he was a U.S. civil servant, working for the CIA and the Justice Department and serving as deputy legal adviser to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

On Feb. 24, President Obama signed into law the Judicial Redress Act. This new law allows citizens of certain European countries to sue the United States for improper disclosure of personal information, including in the context of government and law enforcement activities, just as the current Privacy Act permits U.S. citizens to do. The European justice commissioner called this law "a historic achievement in our efforts to restore trust in transatlantic data flows." 

Whatever the legal merits of the JRA, this piece of legislation has taken on international economic and policy implications far beyond any actual rights it may provide. According to a primary sponsor of the JRA, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, its principal purpose is “to reestablish the United States’ credibility with the European Union following highly publicized leaks of classified information . . . in recent years.”

As a result of leaked disclosures in 2013 relating to...