Video: FBI Files Join the 21st Century

By Caitlin Fairchild // August 25, 2014

The paper filing system files at the FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The paper filing system files at the FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. // FBI

The FBI filing system has finally gotten an upgrade. 

The bureau released a video detailing the switch to the Next Generation Identification system to digitally house among other things, 30 million records and 83 million fingerprint cards.

“It makes those records immediately accessible to law enforcement across the country,” said Penny Harker, who runs the Biometric Services Unit at the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services. “It’s a great benefit to them not having a delay simply because we were still storing files in a manual format.”

The FBI's old filing method, the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or IAFIS, used fingerprint cards stored in rows and rows of filing cabinets, requiring fingerprint specialists who acted as "runners" to find the correct card. 

Story continues below video. 

Donna Ray who has managed the FBI files since 1974 called it the end of an era.

"The old identification division, that's what built the bureau," Ray said. "But I'm very excited about the direction we're going in."

The effort to digitize files has been going on for several years, with 8.8 million files converted in the last two years.

However, some privacy groups are concerned about ...

Video: NASA's Flying Labs

By Caitlin Fairchild // August 13, 2014

NASA's DC-8 airborne science laboratory soars over the Sierra Nevadas and the Owens Valley near Lone Pine, Calif.
NASA's DC-8 airborne science laboratory soars over the Sierra Nevadas and the Owens Valley near Lone Pine, Calif. // NASA

When you think of a laboratory, large buildings or underground lairs with lots of beakers and equipment might come to mind.

But NASA has taken the standard laboratory and made it airborne. The agency's fleet of flying labs will jet off to locations around the globe to study a variety of things, including tropical storms and hurricanes, melting polar ice sheets in Antarctica, and how ecosystems respond to climate change.

One mission to study pollution closer to the ground will focus on Denver, Colorado. The area experiences unhealthy levels of ozone in the summer, so the goal is to better understand surface condition where people live and breathe so future satellites can better measure air quality.

Watch the video below to see more of these lofty labs:  

Nextgov Prime 2014 Agenda Unveiled

By Camille Tuutti // July 17, 2014

What does government look like in the future? And how can technology transform the business of government? Nextgov Prime intends to answer those questions, gathering more than 1,000 federal IT influencers tasked with designing the government of 2020.

Announced yesterday, the 2014 Nextgov Prime agenda spans across two days between Sept. 8-9 and will help federal managers address pressing challenges in six impact areas:

  • Working Smarter. More Productive. More Public Engagement. Leveraging Technology to Make Change Real
  • Moving Fast. Adapting with Speed. Implementing What Works. Advancing Procurement at the Pace of Technological Change
  • Finding Great People. Organizing Teams. Unleashing Creativity. Developing the Workforce of the Future
  • Security in a Machine Era. Electronic Privacy and Civil Liberties. Managing Risks. Enhancing Security While Protecting Privacy
  • Transformational Public Services. Exponential Change. Empowering the Public. The Art of the Possible
  • Internet Everywhere. Citizen-Focused Services. Greater Responsiveness to the Public. Managing Data and Providing Services in a Mobile World

We’ll soon be announcing keynote speakers and session highlights, so stay tuned for updates.

Platform-as-a-Service: What It Is and How It Could Help Your Agency

By James Benson // July 11, 2014

Mathias Rosenthal/

If your agency isn’t currently deploying Platform-as-a-Service, it’s a safe bet it will be soon.

That’s because PaaS is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 41 percent through 2016, according to Market Monitor. The civil side of the federal government expects to spend $643 million on PaaS next year.

The investment represents the next logical step in the “as a service” model. Many agencies are already using Software as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service. If you’re looking for a new tech capability and you can’t spend time developing it in-house, you turn to SaaS to acquire and implement it quickly. If you want seven servers right away, this is where IaaS steps in.

Think of PaaS, then, as the mortar that holds together SaaS and IaaS. With PaaS, platforms are brought into an agency immediately, to accelerate application delivery. They arrive pre-tested, with the ability to scale on demand. This means you won’t launch a project and undergo laborious steps to bring in the platforms needed to make it work. (That scenario delays projects, and often leads to teams working with outdated business requirements because – by the time they get the platform in place ...

Thousands Want to Rename DC Airport after US Goalie -- and 'National Treasure' -- Tim Howard

By Ross Gianfortune // July 2, 2014

Natacha Pisarenko/AP

While the U.S. soccer team was eliminated Tuesday from the World Cup competition in a 2-1 loss, American goalkeeper Tim Howard was the star of the match. Howard's 16 saves were more than any goalie had tallied in a single match since 1966. Now, a U.S. soccer fan has petitioned the White House to commemorate the goalie by naming an airport after him.

A petition posted Tuesday to the White House's We the People site asks the Obama administration to rename Ronald Reagan National Airport to Tim Howard National Airport.

Whereas Tim Howard has shown himself to be a national treasure, Minister of Defense, Friend of Joe Biden, and the holder for the record of most saves in a World Cup match; Therefore, we politely request that we rename the airport to recognize his accomplishments, and meritorious service to the United States of America.

As of Wednesday morning, the petition has 2,700 signatures. A petition needs to garner 100,000 signatures to merit an official response from the White House.

We the People petitions have been sports-based before. Earlier this year, Budweiser and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith promoted a petition to ...