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5 Ways to Get a Leg Up on FITARA

By Kris van Riper and Lon Zanetta // April 28, 2015

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Kris Van Riper is a practice leader at CEB and Lon Zanetta is a senior executive adviser at CEB.

Many federal IT leaders are uncertain of what to expect from the recent passage of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act. With the Office of Management and Budget’s formal implementation guidance expected to be issued soon, federal CIOs are actively thinking through ways to interpret what the legislation will mean for their individual agencies.

Although the impact on IT decision-making processes remains unclear, federal IT leaders should look ahead and consider how FITARA’s framework can create an opportunity for positive change in IT governance. 

The law indicates department CIOs should approve IT budgets and must play “a significant role” in the planning and approval of major IT investments. While this certainly promotes CIOs’ involvement in making strategic IT investments, rolling it out will not be easy, as there is a risk in department CIOs taking a “one size fits all” approach that may not reflect the diverse missions across many different components. 

Additionally, the old piece of Washington wisdom to “follow the money” will serve CIOs well in the future, as they are unlikely to have full control over...

Geeks vs. Suits: What's the Real Difference between 18F and USDS?

By Ben Balter // April 22, 2015

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Ben Balter is a government evangelist at GitHub and a former presidential innovation fellow. This column originally appeared April 22 on BenBalter.com.

You may have noticed two parallel efforts at modernizing the way government approaches technology taking foothold in the Beltway over the past several months: 18F and the U.S. Digital Service. Although similar on paper, the two approach the challenge with two very divergent goals: one was created to ship culture and the other was created to ship confidence. It’s the age-old saga of geeks versus suits.

A Long Time in the Making

The story of 18F and USDS (and their divergence) begins about three years ago with the introduction of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. Modeled after Code for America and the Presidential Management Fellows program, the PIF program was designed to parachute 18 skilled, private-sector technologists into government for six-month stints at a particular agency, technologists that wouldn’t otherwise consider a career in government. The goal was simple: burst the stereotypical Beltway bubble and expose government employees and bureaucratic workflows to mainstream technology thinking.

The PIF program was a success, and soon after a group called 18F was created within the General Services...

How Agencies Can Cut Through the ‘Fog of More’ in Cybersecurity

By Ted Ritter // April 14, 2015

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Ted Ritter is a senior security analyst with TaaSera.

The harsh reality of today’s cyberwar is nine out of 10 organizations’ defenses are already compromised by malware and malicious insiders. And federal agencies cyber-incidents are increasing at a rate of 33 percent year over year.

To combat this reality, agency IT security teams are continually looking for new security products and services to get ahead of the threat. Vendors are more than happy to oblige, continually offering new products: existing product upgrades, repurposing current technologies, and completely new technologies and approaches.

This rapidly expanding solution landscape mapped against the constantly changing threat landscape is creating a “fog of more” scenario, where it’s increasingly difficult for agencies to focus on the greatest risk, the greatest threats and the most-effective means to address them. 

For example, malware defense is just one critical component of every agency security architecture. It consists of a plethora of vendor products. Figuring out the best product with the right underlying technology to meet the current and future agency needs is a daunting task.

Agencies must find a way to cut through the fog and quickly project a new technology’s potential impact on the agency...

How to Not be the Next USAspending.gov

By Luke Fretwell // April 2, 2015

USAspending.gov

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh as well as an adviser for civic and government-focused businesses. 

Rightfully so, there’s somewhat of a backlash to the newly re-designed USAspending.gov that launched today.

The site has never really lived up to its potential, but hopefully this will begin to change now that it has moved beyond past issues and could get support from 18F and U.S. Digital Service.

Nextgov has a short historical overview of the vendor issues related to its storied past, FierceGovernmentIT’s Molly Bernhart Walker has a great post with respect to the release’s impact on businesses who rely on the service as part of their core offerings, as does Washington Free Beacon’s Elizabeth Harrington related to the impact on transparency.

Regardless of the vendor drama and complexity around delivering data specific to USAspending, here is a simple formula for any government working on the release of a new public-facing website:

Data first, design second. Regardless of what the site looks like, the data should be publicly accessible via an application programming interface or bulk download. Every government website that launches from here on out should have a data strategy and execution plan...

Drop the ‘Magic’ Cloud Talk and 5 Other Steps to Cloud Migration Success

By Dan Chenok // March 27, 2015

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Dan Chenok is the executive director of the IBM Center for the Business of Government

The IBM Center recently hosted a roundtable discussion among several agency chief information officers and IT leaders about the state of play when it comes to cloud migration.

Participants shared insights and perspectives about success factors, lessons learned and areas where further thinking and research would benefit government.

Six key themes emerged from the discussion:

1. Establishing Consistent Understanding of What “Cloud” Means  

There is a need for common understanding and language across agencies -- and between CIO organizations, business units and program offices -- to clarify the conversations around "cloud."  

The Office of Management and Budget, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the General Services Administration can help to advance this consistent framework, which could address a number of elements:

  • The connection between cloud and data center consolidation
  • A way to describe migration of applications and workloads into the cloud
  • Setting out a common view for how cloud is operationalized and consumed. Elements include: bandwidth, storage, electricity, rent, cost models and user expectations
  • Shared performance metrics and service-level agreements across agencies, in areas spanning security, availability, scalability, price and efficiency

2. Adopting an Enterprise...