Nextgov readers have great taste and according to our most-read stories of 2018, that includes a hankering for the administration's major tech policies and a touch of scandal.
As 2018 nears its end, we at Nextgov reviewed our most-read stories of the year to see what resonated with readers the most. In pulling the most trafficked stories of the year—over Nextgov’s highest-trafficked year on record—we discovered our readers like a mix of tech scoops, pieces on administration priorities, controversial tech projects, spy contracts and a little bit of scandalous behavior splashed in.
Here are our most-read stories as picked by you, our readers.
Porn-watching Employee Visits 9,000 Adult Sites…at Work
In October, government auditors at the Interior Department released a doozy of a report that traced a Russian malware infection to a single employee who used a government-issued computer to visit some 9,000 porn sites. The audit traced the malware infection to the porn sites, which were of course prohibited by the agency. Nonetheless, over the employee’s seven months of employment, he visited an average of 79 porn sites per day.
The agency told Nextgov the employee “no longer works at the agency.”
A 60-year-old System Caused IRS’ Tax Day Crash
The IRS experienced a Tax-Day crash in April that delayed some 14 million Americans’ tax returns. The day after, a Nextgov scoop showed the IRS traced the crash to a piece of hardware supporting what might be the oldest IT system in government. The Individual Master File contains data on over 1 billion taxpayers dating back decades, yet components of the system, including more than 20 million lines of computer code, harken back to 1960.
The crash highlighted how precarious a position the IRS is in. The agency has been trying to upgrade and update the integral system for a long time, but still hasn’t allocated the funding or staffing resources to do so.
The NSA Makes Moves
The NSA rarely pulls the curtains back on its technology, but in 2018, the agency progressed on two main technology priorities. The first is the agency’s move to cloud computing, which Nextgov documented in June. In a rare interview, the agency’s chief information officer explained how the NSA is moving all its data, including signals intelligence and other foreign surveillance and intelligence data, to an environment it calls the IC GovCloud.
Secondly, the NSA completed the recompete of its famed “Groundbreaker” contract, now broken up into three chunks called Greenway. The contracts, totaling more than $6 billion in value, were won by CSRA (now owned by General Dynamics), AT&T and CACI.
Like ‘Pacific Rim,’ but Real
At Nextgov, we love cool tech projects, and apparently, our readers love them, too. In July, we wrote about a Defense Department project based on allowing soldiers to control machines or weapons systems—with their minds.
The story details the Next-Generation Non-Surgical Neurotechnology program, which aims to combine the speed and processing power of computers with humans’ unique ability to adapt rapidly to complex situations. In other words, maybe we’ll be controlling some skyscraper-sized robots with our brains soon.
Centers of Excellence Initiative Working Excellently?
One of the Trump administration’s key civilian agency tech priorities has been its Centers of Excellence program. The program focuses on five key areas—customer experience, cloud adoption, infrastructure adoption, contact centers and service delivery analytics—and contracts work out in two phases. The first comes up with a modernization strategy for those areas within an agency, and the second actually executes the strategy with technical acquisitions.
Officials from the Agriculture Department, the first agency to pilot the CoE, made news in October when announced the effort had already saved the agency $26 million.
The Pentagon’s JEDI Saga
The Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract became a lightning rod for criticism, mostly from industry heavyweights aiming to bid on it. Worth up to $10 billion over 10 years, the Pentagon plans to award the contract to a single commercial cloud service provider that will be charged with developing an infrastructure secure enough to host classified military secrets, but innovative enough to extend to the “tactical edge” of troops in battle.
In short, the cloud is the cool new destination for Defense Department applications, data and mission-critical information, and industry had better get onboard.
Spending Spree or Spending Hype?
A later-than-usual budget and cautious agency spending in early fiscal 2018 caused budget prognosticators to go ballistic in their predictions of a massive government spending spree to close the year.
Analysts suggested as much as 50 percent of some agency budgets wouldn’t be spent until the final fiscal quarter—totaling close to $300 billion. Was the hype warranted? We won’t know for sure until the Defense Department reports its fourth-quarter spending data. The Pentagon is by far the largest-spending agency, though it won’t disclose the quarter’s spending data for another two months.