recommended reading


Getting Your (Transition) Story Straight

By Andrew H. LaVanway // October 11, 2016

Jim Larkin/

Andrew H. LaVanway has been active at the intersection of government, technology, and citizen engagement for nearly 20 years. He is currently leads ICF’s public sector communications practice.

A 60-minute meeting to outline everything you’ve accomplished during the last administration and your plans for the incoming. In the private sector, we would call this, “Interviewing for your own job,” or “Meeting with the Bobs.” Federal agencies have a more formal title for the activity, “The Presidential Interregnum;” more widely known as “The Transition.” While planning is well underway, in some ways, it’s only just beginning.   

Humor aside, the stakes are high for transition meetings. Years, even decades, of work can be lost to policy changes and whole offices erased by budget reallocations or department reorganizations. Sustaining progress and staying on track largely depends on succinctly telling a convincing, compelling story about your agency’s unique mission and the value of its successes to incoming leadership.

Unfortunately, this is not something most agencies do well.

When given the chance to talk about their mission and successes, most agencies will double down on the dreaded list of bullet points taken from their transition binders. “By 2011, $2 billion of...

4 Fundamentals of an Effective Cloud Access Security Broker

By George Teas // October 7, 2016


George Teas is the director of federal systems engineering at Blue Coat Systems.

The federal government’s efforts to eliminate legacy systems and modernize federal IT is paying off. According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, $2.8 billion has already been saved by closing 3,125 data centers since 2011, and that’s just the data reported from 19 out of 24 agencies that participated in the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative. The same report also suggests another 2,078 closings will result in an additional $5.4 billion in savings by the end of fiscal 2019.

Other initiatives such as the president’s fiscal 2017 budget proposal for a $3.1 billion IT modernization fund, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program and the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act coupled with projections that the federal demand for cloud computing services will reach $6.2 billion in fiscal 2020, could lead to an explosion of modernized cloud-based technologies; technologies that can present significant security concerns for agencies.

As critical information is migrated to the cloud to achieve greater operational efficiencies, new risks for agencies already struggling with the current threat landscape are introduced. Traditional network perimeters are...

3 Steps to Implement an Insider Threat Program

By Raj Ananthanpillai // October 5, 2016


Raj Ananthanpillai is the chief executive officer of IDentrix.

There are major changes on the horizon for government contractors working with the Defense Department.

By the end of November, the new DSS NISPOM Conforming Change 2 will impact DOD contractors who must have a written program in place to establish an insider threat program. These programs must be able to deter, detect and mitigate insider threats before they can become a risk to classified information.

These changes stem from growing concerns over insider threats in recent years because of a number of high-profile incidents. Malicious insiders are a top security threat for federal agencies. For security professionals monitoring cleared personnel, changes in life circumstances can signal alerts that a potential threat could be looming.

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The government once operated in a “trust but verify” mode, yet that posture has led to damaging security breaches. Whether an insider poses a cyber, physical or workforce threat, we’re living in a “no trust” environment.

Agencies began to proactively thwart insider threats because of a large number of incidents that would have been prevented if the right monitoring...

Why DHS Didn’t Need Its Own Internet of Things Guidance

By Ariel Robinson // October 4, 2016

Bakhtiar Zein/

Ariel Robinson is an independent analyst and freelance writer whose work on technology, security, and defense policy has appeared in National Defense Magazine, Wonk Report, Defense One and elsewhere.​

In late September, just ahead of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Cyber Policy Robert Silvers announced the agency is working on its own set of "unifying principles" to make the internet of things safe and secure.

"What we've come to recognize is that the internet of things is a full-blown phenomenon," he said, and everyone—industry, government and consumers—needs to "get serious" about building security into IoT. "And we need to do it now before we've deployed an entire ecosystem."

But DHS is late to the game, in terms of IoT industry and governance, and its duplicative efforts may have an adverse effect on overall security by confusing stakeholders with yet another list of best practices and policies. DHS should leverage its resources (and taxpayer funding) to drive awareness and adoption of existing frameworks, rather than reinvent the wheel.

First, a number of government agencies have already published policies, frameworks and guidance for the IoT industry and consumers. The Transportation Department released...

What Does it Take to Roll Out a New Citizen Service?

By Madeline O’Phelan // September 30, 2016


Madeline O’Phelan is senior manager at GovDelivery.

"Is this something people will use?"

That's the one question government employees should ask themselves before launching a new product or digital service.

Why? We often think building and implementing a tool is the greatest challenge, but in practice, the hardest part is driving people to use it.

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This is why user adoption and distribution are driving forces behind product or service launches in both private and public sector, and why teams dedicated to increasing users are so highly valued across all industries.

To ensure return on investment of a new citizen service, consider these five ways to grow your user base and increase adoption:  

1. Define the Target Audience

Like most marketing efforts, understanding your audience is a critical first step. Start by identifying the target stakeholders and what they care about.  

This step informs everything else including messaging, outreach methods and more. It’s impossible to successfully engage with citizens without deep understanding of their interests or concerns.

Audiences will vary widely based on expectations. Half the battle of reaching a specific audience...