Improving How Social Media Informs Leadership and Public Initiatives

By Corina DuBois and David Bray // March 18, 2015


Corina DuBois is new media chief at the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department. David Bray is CIO at Federal Communications Commission.

Authors’ note: These views are of personal nature and do not necessarily reflect those of previous or current affiliations of the authors. Any examples cited here are for the purposes of highlighting the different social media platforms with no endorsement implied.

Like private sector organizations, U.S. public sector organizations have experienced shifts in how they use both the Internet and social media to interact with the public.

The mid-1990s onward saw an increase in the number of websites helping individual members of the public learn more about various public sector organizations and initiatives directly from the organizational source, instead of having to go in-person to a library or view microfiche. The mid-2000s onward saw an increase in the number of public sector organizations using one or more social media platforms to engage the public.

There have been both benefits and challenges presented with each of these digital shifts. More public sector websites provided the benefit of more relevant and timely information being available compared to going to a library -- yet, this digital shift also presented ...

It’s Time for a National Chief Data Officers Council

By Luke Fretwell // March 16, 2015

DJ Patil, the nation's first chief data scientist
DJ Patil, the nation's first chief data scientist // Flickr user OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS

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

As momentum around appointing public sector chief data officers grows, it’s time for the federal government to get ahead of the curve and create a formal chief data officers council similar to, but more inclusive, proactive and public than the already-established U.S. Chief Information Officers Council.

We’ve recently seen a number of federal agencies appoint formal CDO positions, including the departments of Transportation, Energy and, just last week, Commerce. Even the White House upped the ante and validated the importance of data by naming DJ Patil as the nation’s first chief data scientist.

“Given the substantial benefits that responsibly and creatively deployed data can provide to us and our nation, it is essential that we work together to push the frontiers of data science,” wrote Patil upon his appointment.

While this momentum, including that at the state and local levels, coupled with the work being done through Project Open Data, is inspiring, there is still a lack of national community, purpose and public visibility on a unified direction and momentum.

As public data becomes a larger and important component ...

Collaborate or Perish: What the Internet of Everything Teaches Us About Public-Private Partnerships

By David Bray // March 9, 2015


David A. Bray, chief information officer at the Federal Communications Commission, will soon return from a five-week Eisenhower Fellowship overseas, traveling in a personal capacity to meet with industry and government leaders from Taiwan and Australia regarding cyber strategies for the Internet of Everything. His views are strictly personal and represent solely his own in an Eisenhower Fellowship capacity.

The pace of global technology change is accelerating, and with it all of us will face opportunities and challenges that span sectors at a similarly accelerating rate.

The future of the U.S. and of the world will require collaborations across sectors. For democratic nations, such collaborations will need to adapt how we do public service. Public service includes us all, individual members of the public as the top of a triangle and the private and public sectors as the base. If we choose to, we can pursue new collaborations across sectors to produce a future with more beneficial choices, options and freedoms for everyone.

It is solely as a member of the public that I’m writing this post, as I have been fortunate to have an opportunity to step outside of my day-to-day professional role and spend five weeks ...

Former WH Deputy CIO Lands at Fortune 500 Medical Device Firm

By Nextgov Staff // March 2, 2015

Orhan Cam/

The former deputy chief information officer of the White House executive office is joining medical device giant Stryker as the company’s chief information security officer.

Alissa Johnson had served as deputy CIO for the Office of Administration in the White House’s Executive Office of the President since March 2012.

Stryker Corp. is a Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Fortune 500 medical technology company with $9 billion in revenue last year. In her new role, Johnson will be responsible for overseeing the company’s information security efforts.

Johnson is a National Security Agency-certified cryptologic engineer, who previously served in positions at defense agencies and intelligence agencies.

“It will be great to be able to transfer those skills to health care -- an industry that has its own set of cyber challenges,” she said in an email to Nextgov.

Johnson’s former boss at the White House, Karen Britton, left her post in January, joining eManagement, a small IT firm based in Silver Spring, Maryland.  

At the time, Johnson said she too was planning on “transitioning out” as the executive office’s No. 2 IT official.

Unclassified networks at the White House fell victim to a breach last fall. Administration officials later revealed the ...

Supercomputing: Key to Discovery and Competitiveness

By Jane Snowdon // February 24, 2015

The Dutch petascale national supercomputer,
The Dutch petascale national supercomputer, // Flickr user Dennis van Zuijlekom

Dr. Jane L. Snowdon is chief innovation officer at IBM U.S. Federal Government.

Countless industries have benefited from advancements in computing technology – from manufacturing, financial services, biotechnology, education and entertainment, to the government and the military. This ongoing push for innovation has led to significant increases in both industrial productivity and efficiency.

In fact, innovations stemming from supercomputing can be found in nearly every facet of our lives. From oil discovery and energy efficiency, to climate modeling, to the introduction of new drugs, to the design of cars and planes – supercomputers have helped displace costlier, less-efficient models – thanks in large part to funding from the federal government.

According to the U.S. Council of Competitiveness’ October 2014 “The Exascale Effect: the Benefits of Supercomputing Investment for U.S. Industry” report, supercomputing is viewed as a cost-effective tool for accelerating the R&D process, and two-thirds of all U.S.-based companies that use supercomputing say “increasing performance of computational models is a matter of competitive survival.”

While engineers and scientists struggled with massive data files in the 1990s in the commercial computing space, supercomputers were being designed to work on files ten thousand times larger. Since, many of the ...