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5 Questions to Ask Before Redesigning Your Agency Website

By Jose Carlos Linares // July 20, 2015

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Jose Carlos Linares is president & CEO of Open Technology Group.

The White House has prioritized providing world-class customer service to U.S. citizens as one of 15 Cross-Agency Priority Goals. The objective is to provide individuals and businesses with faster and easier transactions, enabling a positive experience with government that rivals the private sector.

While agencies are challenged by budget constraints, citizens have high expectations for government services to be well designed, efficient and available online. The government must be innovative to engage citizens, deliver exceptional services and provide customer satisfaction, while also cutting costs and improving operational efficiencies.

In a report that measures customer experience across 100 federal government websites, mobile sites and applications, it is evident citizen satisfaction rates are rising, but there is still room for improvement. According to the ForeSee E-Government Satisfaction Index, only 31 percent of government websites achieved an “excellent” rating, while 21 percent received a score indicating citizens were “dissatisfied.”

In an effort to improve on the delivery of services, increase customer engagement and provide transparency, many government entities are faced with the process of redesigning their website. Before embarking on this potentially time-consuming and costly endeavor, agency decision-makers need to ensure their...

Post-Megabreaches, Feds Should Focus on Third Party Risk

By Jacob Olcott // July 9, 2015

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Jacob Olcott, former legal adviser to the Senate Commerce Committee, counsel to the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, is currently vice president of business development for BitSight.

Since the recent breach of the Office of Personnel Management, there has been a lot of confusion about how and why the breach occurred. Years of independent reports suggested a large breach was inevitable; OPM’s infrastructure has been criticized for being antiquated and vulnerable; and best practices like two-factor authentication and encryption were not routinely used.  

While all of these critiques may be warranted, a critical factor in last month’s breach is the insecurity of the OPM supply chain. Months -- and even years before the breach -- organizations deeply embedded in OPM’s cyber ecosystem were vulnerable and experienced significant data breaches that should have sounded alarms.

USIS

In July 2014, OPM investigated a breach discovered on its networks. A month later, USIS, a background provider for the government, was breached through a vulnerability exploited in an ERP software package. Shortly thereafter, OPM suspended work with USIS. While an OPM spokesman did not say this suspension was a result of the USIS breach, many believe the two events are directly correlated...

In the Future, We’ll All Use Our Phones to Identify Ourselves

By Neville Pattinson // July 6, 2015

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Neville Pattinson is the senior vice president of government sales at Austin-based Gemalto North America.  

By the end of 2016, 96 percent of individuals worldwide will be equipped with mobile technology, according to the OECD. Mobile identity -- the creation of a mechanism for accessing online services with a high level of security on mobile devices -- is on the march.

The recent adoption of Near Field Communication by Apple, for Apple Pay and the Apple Watch, is a strong signal for public authorities and markets. Mobile identity will be the virtual umbilical cord continuously linking each individual to their public or social life.

A number of pioneering countries are already tackling the challenge of widespread adoption and use of secure mobile identities. For some, the answer lies in operator-level approaches; for others, it is rooted in the existing physical and digital identities created by government.

Whatever the approach, the most successful mobile identity services already launched are highly dependent on collaboration between public authorities, banks, telecom operators and the private sector.  

The end user – the citizen – must be considered, however, as past best practices may no longer be applicable in the future of mobile identity. Technology and innovation will not motivate...

After the OPM Breach, It’s Time for IT Organizations to be Accountable

By Jeff Gould // July 2, 2015

A chart of data breaches is shown on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, as witnesses testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee's hearing on the Office of Personnel Management data breach.
A chart of data breaches is shown on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, as witnesses testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee's hearing on the Office of Personnel Management data breach. // AP Photo/Cliff Owen

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

In the past five years, the U.S. Navy has removed nearly 100 commanding officers from their positions. While the offenses motivating the dismissals covered a wide range of misconduct, including keeping a live goat on board a guided missile cruiser, the majority was removed for operational failures.

In the Navy, running your ship aground gets you fired. Such harsh discipline may not always be fair, but it serves an essential purpose. When a leader’s misjudgments can have catastrophic consequences for a ship, its crew, or the nation as a whole, it is essential these leaders accept their obligations of diligence and personal accountability. No system is invulnerable to attack. But a federal IT culture that emulates the Navy by embracing the principles of accountability and continuous improvement will make us safer than we are now.

In today’s federal IT establishment, accountability is not the rule. After what is likely the most dangerous and destructive cyberattack the United States has ever suffered, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, where the attack took place, recently told the Senate, “I don't...

Why Chief Data Officers Should Really be Chief Digital Officers

By Andrew H. LaVanway // July 1, 2015

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Andrew H. LaVanway is a vice president in ICF International’s Marketing, Technology & Interactive practice.

The role of chief data officer within federal agencies is on the rise. It’s about time.  

Unfortunately, it’s probably also not enough. Now that many agencies have gotten around to vetting, hiring and enabling a data executive, the needed role has grown larger. Simply stated, federal agencies do not need a chief whose primary responsibilities are to find, curate and harvest data while refereeing internal turf wars.

For one, it is not about the data; it is about what agencies do with the data. Data is not an end in itself, and agencies do not exist solely to collect and maintain data. Even the National Archives and Records Administration – a federal agency literally named for storing information – has public access and transparency at the core of its mission.

For another, the data does not exist on its own apart from the mission. Having a chief data officer is akin to the Army having a chief bullet officer or hospitals having a chief bandage officer. No doubt those things are important to their respective missions, but neither bullets nor bandages are the mission – they...