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How a Transparent Process Made Federal Spending Transparency Possible

By Christina Ho, Rob Cook and Bryce Pippert // August 2, 2017

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In May, the Treasury Department released a new website (beta.usaspending.gov) to share detailed federal spending information so that federal agencies, oversight bodies and the public can gain better insights into how tax dollars are used. For the first time, granular federal financial and award information has been standardized, connected and published. The new data sets and the website were released on the third anniversary of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act becoming law, the mandated reporting deadline for federal agencies. It was a huge milestone marking a new level of government transparency. Our government's finances have never been more transparent.  

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The DATA Act is the first open data law in the United States. Treasury’s charge was to track nearly $4 trillion in annual spending on a quarterly basis and link data from disparate functions and systems—managed by over 100 individual federal agencies—into one common standard. This has never before been done. Unlocking this data required significant collaboration with stakeholders across the federal government. And, the rollout of the governmentwide data standards, the data collection software and the new...

The Great Cybersecurity Bake Off: Mastering the Recipe

By Greg Touhill // July 28, 2017

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Greg Touhill, CISSP, CISM, is the president of Cyxtera Federal Group, former federal chief information security officer, and guest author for the (ISC)² U.S. Government Advisory Council Executive Writers Bureau.

In part one of this series, I addressed the four ingredients necessary for effectively “baking in” cybersecurity. In part two, I address the role that the right cookbook and a trained chef play in mastering your cybersecurity recipe.

If technology represents the ingredients in your cybersecurity recipe, your processes represent the cookbook. Your processes define and document the implementation of your cybersecurity strategy and supporting policies. They provide your workforce, both organic employees and third-party partners, with the instructions of not only what you want done, but why and how it needs to be done properly.

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Your processes should clearly link your cybersecurity strategy to discrete tasks supporting your operations. Ensuring that your workforce is appropriately and adequately trained to successfully accomplish those tasks is an essential due care and due diligence function. Training is a continual process and not a “one and done” activity. Best-in-class organizations such as the U.S. military...

How Quality Data Equips Federal Leaders for OMB’s Reorganization Plans

By Christian Hoehner, David Paschane, Kevin Kosar and Eric Hannel // July 27, 2017

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The recent Office of Management and Budget memorandum (M-17-22), requiring a comprehensive federal government reform plan, is a clear signal to every federal leader for the need to prepare for deep and lasting changes to how we do business. We see this as a rare opportunity with just the right conditions for bold leadership.

By offering significant political cover, the OMB order creates the ideal environment for proactive leaders to re-examine the fundamentals of our government’s operational capabilities, performance management and outcomes. It opens the door for us to challenge some of the most intractable barriers to federal government reform.

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To support federal leaders as they respond to the OMB order and implement the requirements that will follow, we co-authored the paper, Data Powered Leadership Reform: A Business Case for Federal Operational Improvements Enabled by Quality Data.

We address four key issues in government management: The broader business case for improving federal workflows, the importance of secure and shared quality data to support this reform work, the realities of federal bureaucratization as a defined management concept and specific policy recommendations for federal leadership...

The Great Cybersecurity Bake Off: The Necessary Ingredients

By Greg Touhill // July 26, 2017

Greg Touhill, former federal CISO
Greg Touhill, former federal CISO // US Coast Guard

Greg Touhill, CISSP, CISM, is the president of Cyxtera Federal Group, former federal chief information security officer, and guest author for the (ISC)² U.S. Government Advisory Council Executive Writers Bureau.

I enjoy watching a popular BBC show called “The Great British Bake Off.” The show’s contestants create fabulous baked goods over the course of several weeks, often with few instructions or advance knowledge of how the required product is supposed to look and taste. Every week, a contestant is eliminated when they fail to deliver an attractive and tasty creation. More often than not, those who don’t have a good recipe are the ones asked to leave. For those of us concerned about managing cyber risk, knowing the right cybersecurity recipe is the difference between those who deliver results that are effective, efficient and secure and those that fail to properly protect your information, brand and reputation.

Many people say that cybersecurity needs to be “baked in” to products. I agree. However, “baking” cybersecurity into a product doesn’t complete the recipe for managing your cyber risk. Cybersecurity is an enterprise risk management issue. To be successful, you have to address more than just the products you...

A Tool That Can Keep Federal Data Centers Safe Amid Cloud Chaos

By John Breeden II // July 25, 2017

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

We all know that the federal government has a love/hate relationship with data centers. First embraced as an efficient way to handle advanced government networks, they eventually grew out of control, leading to wasted resources, overlapping capacities and a loss of visibility as to what government was paying for in their data centers. The Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative was created in 2010 to try and reverse the historic growth of federal data centers, with the Data Center Optimization Initiative more recently replacing it, but with similar goals.

One of the best ways that government is reducing their reliance on data centers is by moving to cloud computing, where agencies can buy computing capacity as a service, theoretically only paying for what they need. There are still concerns, especially with security, which has caused government to lag well behind the private sector in cloud adoption. Even so, their cautious efforts have been fruitful. The Government...