GAO nudges OMB, NSA likes data and does, too

News and notes from around the federal IT community.

GAO wants to see more OMB/CIO cooperation

With federal agencies spending more than $80 billion on IT annually, the Government Accountability Office wants to see where all that money is going. A new GAO report recommends that the Office of Management and Budget team up with federal CIOs to better understand IT management issues.

OMB already has some key IT data because CIOs must report on their management of IT in such areas as capital planning and investment management, security and strategic planning.

GAO recommended that OMB, in collaboration with CIOs, ensure a common understanding of priority IT reforms and their reporting requirements and address proposed reporting improvements and challenges.

The report says OMB has taken some steps to streamline CIO reporting requirements, such as changing reporting formats from narratives to performance data. However, its efforts do not address some challenges identified by federal CIOs, including tracking all current requirements and having to use multiple online tools to report information.

GAO said that's partly because OMB has not solicited feedback in those areas, largely due to its focus on streamlining reporting in other areas.

Data science is nothing new at NSA

Data scientist is a hot title in the IT world, but don't expect the National Security Agency to add a cadre of data scientists to its workforce. The agency's existing analysts already do much of that work, said Sally Holcomb, deputy CIO at NSA.

"We don't have a lot of people who have the work role of data scientist yet because many of them are already labeled as experienced analysts," Holcomb said at the AFCEA Cybersecurity Technology Summit in Washington. "I think it's already merged in essence because of our pursuit of really good analysis at every level -- the data level, the information level and the intelligence level." simplifies analysis, visualization has new data analysis and visualization tools that let the public open datasets directly from its trove of high-value, machine-readable information.

The new tools will make it easier to visualize and analyze data with the click of a button, wrote Philip Ashlock,'s chief architect, and Rebecca Williams, senior engagement liaison, in a March 31 blog post. is now integrated with the online analytics and data visualization tool Plotly and the CartoDB platform, which provides geographic information system and mapping tools. The new features make it possible to create graphs and dynamic maps with open government data in one click, Ashlock and Williams said.

Datasets on have a new "Open With" menu that gives users the option to open the dataset directly from third-party services.

Plotly and CartoDB were integrated "with nothing more than simple website links," Ashlock and Williams wrote. They added that will incorporate other third-party services in the future.