Buzz of the Week: Hopes for cybersecurity

The federal government certainly grabbed the attention of the technology industry with an announcement last week. As part of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, the government plans to provide the industry with an infusion of cash for research and development into new and emerging security technology and services.

DHS calls that effort the Leap Year program because it is intended to bring about significant technological advances — a leap — rather than the typical incremental gains.

No doubt industry executives are anxious to learn how much money the government plans to pump into the system. But the financial benefits might be just the start if the Leap Year program fulfills its potential.
The program could provide industry with a new focus and renewed purpose.

Perhaps it starts as a public/private venture, with federal expenses and the leading lights of industry working together to identify and develop the most promising security concepts and technologies, with the federal government providing the seed money.

But the real payoff comes when technology companies turn those ideas into commercial products and make them widely available. Market forces will ensure that Leap Year initiatives evolve in new and unexpected ways. That is when the program will truly bear fruit.

That vision brings to mind the space race of the 1960s and the leaps in innovation it sparked in so many fields. In similar fashion, the effects of Leap Year might be felt for years to come.

Sounds great, but is it realistic? Maybe not. The program could go awry in many ways: bad governance, poor investments or just a dearth of good ideas.

But no one can blame security experts, industry vendors and stockholders for holding out hopes for a brighter future.

BUZZ CONTENDERS

#2: Rock ‘n’ roll IT

When feds and contractors strap on electric guitars, its time to lock up your daughters and whip out the ear plugs.

OK, maybe just the ear plugs.

Cobb, a rock group anchored by information technology experts from Touchstone Consulting and the Virginia Interoperability Coordinator’s Office, won the battle of the bands at last week’s GIT Rockin’ event, sponsored by the 1105 Government Information Group, which publishes Federal Computer Week. Its members are Matt Davis, Corbett Ervin, Steve Snyder and Steve Young.

The other finalists were the Eddie Becker Band (Omniplex, Systek, Lockheed Martin), Nameless Droogs (CACI, Science Applications International Corp., Computer Sciences Corp.), Tom and the Rhodes Squallers (ManTech) and Wes Tucker and the Skillets (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Northrop Grumman).

#3: Retire? What’s that?
While private-sector workers watch their 401(k) values decline and wonder whether they’ll be able to stop working this side of the tomb, federal employees have another challenge: The Office of Personnel Management has terminated its 10-year, $290 million contract with Hewitt Associates to modernize the federal employees retirement system because the company failed to deliver a functioning benefits calculator.

It’s not so bad, though: OPM will continue to work on other aspects of modernization until officials figure out what to do next. Or until they retire.

#4: Lost in transition
Have you heard there’s an election coming up? A company called Avue Technologies has, and it created a new Web site for anyone interested in working for the next president.

The site, www.transitionjobs.us, lists about 7,000 jobs that the next president will have to fill through appointments. Armed with that information, the right friendships and connections, and possibly a campaign contribution or two — and time is running out to make those — you should be a shoo-in for deputy assistant undersecretary of paper-pushing in some obscure bureau.

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