With the HealthCare.gov site rebooted after a month of repairs, officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are being increasingly forthcoming with reporters about traffic to the site.
Details of the site's poor performance at its Oct. 1 launch were revealed by officials in often-contentious congressional hearings and in documents requested from contractors under the threat of subpoena. With the site now on firmer footing, CMS is more than happy to volunteer the substantial uptick in traffic, with numbers being offered in near-real time on daily press calls.
More than 950,000 users visited HealthCare.gov on Dec 3, according to CMS spokesperson Julie Bataille. Between midnight and 1 p.m. on Dec. 4, the site had 310,000 visits. These new usage levels represent an 80 percent increase from a week earlier. A new comparison-shopping feature that allows users to compare plans and benefits in detail before logging in or creating an account has drawn 790,000 users since the evening of Dec. 1, making it the third-most popular page on the site.
CMS is still being stingy with one piece of information -- the error rates occurring in transmissions of enrollment data to health insurance carriers. These "834 forms" are still the cause of major headaches at insurance companies, and there remains the challenge of sorting through errors that persist in records for any of the approximately 126,000 users who enrolled in plans via the Federally Facilitated Exchanges in October and November.
Bataille said that developers at contractor Quality Software Services Inc., which is leading the repair effort, believe that "the majority of issues causing inaccuracies previously have been resolved."
However, she declined multiple requests from reporters on a conference call to quantify the number of people affected by 834 errors, and whether errors continue to affect enrollees who came to the site since Nov. 30. Press reports indicate that almost 30,000 users were able to sign up for insurance on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 alone -- a massive increase over previous enrollment levels. However, the bigger numbers could lead to big problems on the insurance-carrier side if the 834 errors persist, as many in the insurance industry suggest.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Dec 05, 2013 at 10:49 AM0 comments
The Information Technology Industry Council generally supports the legislation being pushed by Reps. Darrel Issa (R-Ca.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), but ITI's Erica McCann says FITARA should be part of a "broader dialogue on IT acquisition reform."
The Information Technology Industry Council's new Information Technology Alliance for Public Sector supports legislation to reform federal acquisition rules, but one of the group’s newest lobbyists cautioned that more work needs to be done before the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act is ready for prime time.
In a Dec. 3 post, ITAPS Manager of Federal Procurement Erica McCann said that while FITARA would provide needed changes in the federal procurement process, some of the acquisition provisions “need more discussion and should be part of a broader dialogue on IT acquisition reform that is now getting underway within the Defense Department and among policymakers on Capitol Hill."
Congress, McCann wrote, should move ahead on the FITARA provisions that have industry consensus, including those that would enhance the authority of civilian CIOs, allow a more flexible multi-year funding process, optimize data centers, strengthen the IT workforce and promote dialogue between contractors and federal contracting officers.
A joint letter in March sent by TechAmerica, ITI, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Coalition for Government Procurement, ACT, and the BSA/Software Alliance to Issa contained much the same sentiment as McCann’s post.
The Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, backed by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), passed the House as part of the defense authorization bill in June. Now, FITARA is being proposed as an amendment to the Senate defense bill.
The post is the first by McCann on ITI's blog. She was one of four procurement policy lobbyists to leave rival industry association TechAmerica in November. TechAmerica subsequently sued ITI for $5 million in the D.C. Superior Court, claiming, among other things, that the lobbyists took proprietary association membership information with them. Trey Hodgkins, Pam Walker and Carol Henton were named in TechAmerica's suit; McCann was not included.
Posted by Mark Rockwell on Dec 04, 2013 at 10:06 AM0 comments
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Dec. 3 that President Barack Obama accepted his recommendation to appoint Christine Fox as acting deputy Defense secretary, effective Dec. 5.
Fox will serve on an interim basis in place of Ashton Carter, who steps down as the Pentagon's second in command Dec. 4, while the search for Carter's permanent replacement continues.
Fox spent nearly four years serving as DOD's director of cost assessment and program evaluation before stepping down in spring 2013. She reportedly returned in September as an unpaid consultant to Carter. Fox also helped lead Hagel's sweeping review of the Pentagon budget.
"As a key leader of the Strategic Choices and Management Review, she helped identify the challenges, choices and opportunities for reform facing the department during this period of unprecedented budget uncertainty," Hagel said in a news release. "She will be able to help me shape our priorities from day one because she knows the intricacies of the department's budget, programs and global operations better than anyone."
Fox, a former analyst at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar -- also known as the Top Gun school -- was the real-life inspiration for Kelly McGillis' character, Charlie, in the 1986 Tom Cruise movie.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Dec 03, 2013 at 9:06 AM0 comments
For a quarter-century, FCW’s Federal 100 awards have honored the women and men who go far beyond their assigned duties to make federal IT better. And if you know individuals who you believe should be among the 2014 Federal 100, it’s time to visit FCW.com/fed100 and get moving on their nominations!
I could make an argument about the importance of celebrating the good amid all the criticism of government; I even have the perfect news hook in the form of this past weekend's deadline for HealthCare.gov fixes. Or I could point out, as I have before, that budget pressures and poisoned politics make the great work being done in federal IT all the more impressive.
But no one who reads FCW needs to be reminded of those realities. You know how hard it is to drive real change, and you know people who rise to the challenge every day. So make sure the rest of our community knows about them, too.
Not sure what it takes to make the Federal 100? Here are five points to remember:
- Anyone in the federal IT community is eligible: career agency employees, political appointees, contractors, academics, association experts, even members of Congress (though legislators would likely fare better in the judging if they first fund the rest of fiscal 2014).
- The award is for individual accomplishments in 2013.
- Federal 100 winners go above and beyond, whatever their level or rank. A fancy job title is not required, and just doing one’s job well is not enough.
- You are allowed to make multiple nominations. Do so early and often.
- Impact matters. The judges need to know not only what a nominee did, but also what all that work accomplished.
The deadline for submissions is Dec. 23. Please go to FCW.com/fed100 for more information, and get started today on your nominations.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Dec 02, 2013 at 5:37 AM0 comments
Secretary of Homeland Security nominee Jeh Johnson
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee OK'd former Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson's nomination to become the next secretary of Homeland Security by voice vote on Nov. 20.
Johnson now faces a vote in the full Senate, where Arizona Republican John McCain has said he will hold up confirmation until Johnson provides more details about his plans to beef up border security.
But initial objections by a handful of Senate Republicans over Johnson's role as a fundraiser for President Barack Obama have died down, and his eventual confirmation appears all but certain.
Committee Chairman Tom Carper said Johnson's nomination comes at a critical time for DHS, which is still working to fill a host of senior management slots.
"If confirmed by the full Senate, Mr. Johnson will be met with the dual challenge of combating threats to our nation while also working to further strengthen management at the department and encourage more cohesion among the department's components," Carper said. "This is no easy task, but I am confident that we have a nominee who is up to the challenge."
Ranking Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma echoed Carper.
"With so much at stake and with limited financial resources, DHS must work with Congress to ensure that spending on counterterrorism and intelligence programs makes us safer," he said.
Posted by Mark Rockwell on Nov 21, 2013 at 7:31 AM0 comments
Former White House adviser and high-profile cybersecurity expert Melissa Hathaway is joining the Centre for International Governance Innovation as a distinguished fellow.
Hathaway served as a cybersecurity adviser to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and is the former acting senior director for cyberspace at the National Security Council and former adviser to the Director of National Intelligence. She is now president of Hathaway Global Strategies, a consulting firm, and a senior adviser to Project Minerva, a cybersecurity project jointly managed by the Department of Defense, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
"The Internet is at the very core of every aspect of life. There is nothing more important than ensuring that we engage in an international discussion about the priorities required to strengthen the services and infrastructures that are dependent upon the Internet," Hathaway said in a written statement. "There are many entangled economic, technical, regulatory, and policy issues that are part of every negotiation and discussion about the Internet and its future. I look forward to working with the CIGI team to bring more clarity to the international discussion and encourage governments to take actions and reduce risks."
CIGI is based in Ontario, Canada, but Hathaway is expected to remain in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Nov 15, 2013 at 1:21 PM0 comments
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has appointed new officials to positions handling Pentagon intelligence, fiscal improvement and acquisition, technology and logistics.
Marcel Lettre was appointed to the Senior Executive Service as principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, based at the Pentagon. He replaces Thomas Ferguson as the principal staff assistant and advisor to the undersecretary of Defense for intelligence and oversees related planning, policy and strategy. Lettre, who most recently served as special assistant to the Defense secretary, also will represent USDI to the intelligence community.
After being confirmed by the Senate in October, Alan Estevez has been assigned as principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, serving under Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for AT&L, at the Pentagon. Estevez previously served as assistant secretary of Defense for logistics and materiel readiness. He has been working for DOD in various capacities since 1981.
Margo Sheridan is taking the helm as director for financial improvement and audit readiness, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). Sheridan previously served as the Coast Guard's director of financial operations/comptroller in the Office of the Assistant Commandant for Resources/Chief Financial Officer. Sheridan takes over for Joe Quinn, who left in April for the private sector after three years leading DOD's massive undertaking in getting audit-ready.
Read the official announcement.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Nov 13, 2013 at 7:07 AM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Nov 12, 2013 at 6:58 AM3 comments
A kind of restrained rambunctious enthusiasm rippled through the 1,000 or so federal contractors gathered the night of Nov. 7 at the annual GovCon contracting industry awards in Tyson's Corner, Va. The enthusiasm, however, was tempered by the memory of recent government cutbacks and shutdowns and foreboding for those that may be still to come.
As the 11th Annual Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards were handed out, presenters had to repeatedly shush the crowd to be heard above the laughter and loud conversations. The din came from contractors who have been working amid one of the toughest federal acquisition environments in years and the relief/trepidation in the throng was hard to hide -- relief from having made it through so far, but unease about another shutdown and continuing tight budgets.
The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the Professional Services Council sponsored the awards.
The evening's final winner -- Kymm McCabe, CEO at ASI Government, who accepted the Executive of the Year award companies with less than $75 million in sales — asked the crowd to stand, turn to the person on their right, and pat them on the back in congratulations for making it through a very tough year.
Posted by Mark Rockwell on Nov 08, 2013 at 8:04 AM1 comments
Former Agriculture Department CIO Chris Smith has joined AT&T Government Solutions as vice president of technology. He will lead the company's 175-member technology specialist team in developing and deploying systems for the federal market.
Smith earned a Federal 100 award in 2011 for his leadership in testing the Einstein 3 technology to help detect and respond to cyberattacks. He also led the transfer of email for 120,000 USDA employees to the cloud in 2011, earning a second Fed 100 award the next year for that project.
Smith retired from USDA in 2012 and joined Accenture under Kay Kapoor, then Accenture's managing director and chief executive of the federal business. She now heads AT&T Government Solutions, making this the second time she has hired Smith.
"Chris brings impressive depths of technology experience, especially in the areas of mobility, cloud, and cyber," Kapoor said in a written statement. "He is going to be an important engine of innovation for AT&T in the federal sector."
Posted by Michael Hardy on Nov 06, 2013 at 1:33 PM0 comments
Elizabeth McGrath is about to retire from a 25-year DOD career, insiders say.
Veteran Defense Department official Elizabeth McGrath will be stepping down from her position as deputy chief management officer, according to Pentagon sources.
A spokesman said he could not confirm or deny that McGrath is retiring, but sources speaking on background said that she informed colleagues of her impending departure in a Nov. 4 staff meeting.
When asked in a September interview with FCW about her future plans, McGrath left the door open to potential a career change.
"I have no definitive plans to leave the office ... but I've been at DOD for 25 years. At some point I'll have to leave," she said.
McGrath is the Pentagon's first DCMO. She was sworn in July 1, 2010, and since then has focused on reforming DOD financial management, business operations and enterprise-wide systems efficiencies. Prior to her current role, she served as deputy director for systems integration at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Nov 04, 2013 at 9:07 AM3 comments
SAP AG Co-CEO Bill McDermott (Photo: SAP AG)
Bill McDermott, the 51-year-old co-CEO of SAP AG, shared an interesting stat with attendees at the Northern Virginia Technology Council's Oct. 30 Tech Celebration banquet.
Characterizing millennials -- workers in their 20s and early 30s -- as narcissistic and not career-oriented is unfair, he argued. What they are is "mobile, social and purpose driven," he said. "Eighty-four percent would rather work for a company with a purpose, that does something that matters," than get personal recognition like "a raise or a promotion."
Greater purpose, rare raises and nearly non-existent public praise? Young people, has government got a job for you!
Kidding aside, McDermott's remarks echoed something federal CIO Steven VanRoekel said Oct. 29 at ACT-IAC's recent Executive Leadership Conference. "Impact at scale," VanRoekel said, is the number one reason to give young people asking why they should work in government.
When at Microsoft, VanRoekel said, he thought he "was at the pinnacle" of working on "big projects ... with worldwide impact. But coming to government, by orders of magnitude, outpaces that in terms of what you can do."
McDermott offered another statistic to illustrate that point -- and to show just how much impact younger workers can have. The average age of engineers working on NASA's Apollo program in the 1960s, he said, was 26. The team lead? Thirty-one.
So actively recruit millennials, McDermott urged. Give them real responsibility early, and give them freedom to experiment and fail.
"If [a project] fails, kill it," he said. "But you have to create a culture where failure is acceptable."
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Nov 01, 2013 at 9:33 AM0 comments
William LaPlante Jr. is President Barack Obama's pick to be assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, according to an announcement from the White House on Oct. 30.
LaPlante currently serves as the principal deputy for the assistant secretary for acquisition, a job he began earlier this year. His duties include providing advice and guidance on Air Force acquisition and overseeing research, development, testing, production and modernization for a $40 billion annual portfolio, according to his bio.
LaPlante has spent his career in both the public and private sectors, and has served on a number of advisory boards, including the Defense Science Board, U.S. Strategic Command Senior Advisory Group and Naval Research Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Defense Department this year, he was employed at defense contractor MITRE Corp.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Oct 31, 2013 at 2:01 PM1 comments
Thomas Wheeler, a former head of two telecommunications trade associations and an early supporter of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, was confirmed as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission by the Senate on Oct. 29.
Wheeler's nomination had been on hold because Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) expressed concerns that Wheeler was interested in imposing tougher disclosure requirements on political advertising. Currently, the FCC maintains an online collection of political advertising purchases as part of the public files of licensed broadcast stations. Cruz was concerned that the FCC might flex its muscles to get more information abut donors to nonprofits that buy ads on behalf of candidates and causes.
Cruz relented after Wheeler assured him that expanding the FCC's role in campaign finance was not a priority.
Joining Wheeler at the FCC will be Michael O'Rielly, a former staffer for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who will take up one of two Republican seats on the commission. Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn will return to her role as a commissioner.
"Tom Wheeler will be a strong advocate for consumers and the public interest at a time when the FCC is facing decisions that will shape the future of our nation's telephone network and the wireless, broadband, and video industries," said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).
Rockefeller and many other Senate Democrats had pushed for the elevation of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to the top slot. Wheeler's past as head of trade associations in the mobile phone and cable industries was a concern to some Senate liberals, who worried that he might be too beholden to industry.
One of the big priorities for Wheeler is a reclamation and reverse auction of spectrum, a program that allows TV broadcasters to relinquish their spectrum licenses so providers of wireless broadband may bid on it. The technology required to support the closely watched auction is among the more novel and complex IT challenges facing government.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Oct 30, 2013 at 8:20 AM0 comments
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) will spearhead an initiative to overhaul DOD's acquisition process.
Members of the House Armed Services Committee are set to launch a long-term reform effort aimed at the Defense Department, including an emphasis on overhauling the acquisition process.
At an Oct. 29 hearing, Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) announced that Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) would spearhead the initiative, with assistance from ranking Democrat Adam Smith of Washington.
"We cannot afford a costly and ineffective acquisition system, particularly when faced with devastating impacts of repeated budget cuts and sequestration," McKeon said in an opening statement at the hearing. "The Congress, together with the Department of Defense and industry, must be willing to do the hard work to find root causes, look past band-aid fixes and parochial interests, and have the courage to implement meaningful, lasting reform."
McKeon added that the initiative would include a "hard look at acquisition."
In an Oct. 29 opinion piece for Real Clear Defense, Thornberry called for defense acquisition reform as a top priority, noting that as much as 10 percent of federal discretionary spending goes toward military purchasing. He blamed "heavy federal regulations" for driving up costs.
"There are nearly 2,000 pages of acquisition regulations on the books, many of which have not been reviewed in years," Thornberry wrote. "Too often, Congress and the Pentagon respond to cost overruns by adding another law or an additional oversight office. The situation has gotten so bad that in order to supply our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, entire new streamlined procurement systems were created in order to circumvent the normal process."
At least one industry group praised the proposed efforts. In an Oct. 29 statement, Professional Services Council CEO and President Stan Soloway urged the committee to consider recommendations PSC issued earlier this year.
"The recognition by Chairman McKeon and Ranking Member Smith of the importance of seriously and thoughtfully addressing the persistent challenges in defense acquisition today is an important first step," said Soloway. "Given constrained resources, massive demographic challenges, and the nature and pace of technology development, now is the time to act boldly, broadly and smartly."
Posted by Amber Corrin on Oct 29, 2013 at 1:38 PM5 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Oct 28, 2013 at 12:32 PM0 comments
The U.S. Postal Service selected its new CIO, and didn’t have to look far to find him.
USPS selected 39-year postal veteran James Cochrane for the role, according to an Oct. 25 memo from Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.
Cochrane has served as acting CIO since former CIO Ellis Burgoyne retired Oct. 1.
Like Burgoyne before him, Cochrane has spent his entire career at USPS, including 25 years in operations in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan and northern Virginia areas.
Prior to stepping into the C-suite, Cochrane served as vice president of product information for USPS, where he oversaw IT innovations in tracking systems, including the Intelligence Mail barcode and Intelligent Mail package barcode. Cochrane’s tenure as vice president of product information coincided with “record high service levels” in those areas, according to Donahoe.
With budget difficulties and continued pressure from Congress to cut spending, Cochrane will be in the challenging position of overseeing technology and innovation in one of the largest IT organizations in the world
“As the Postal Service continues initiatives to add value to the mail for our customers, technology and information products and services are increasingly important to our corporate strategy, and [Cochrane] is well-suited to lead our efforts in those areas,” Donahoe said.
Cochrane’s main focus will be on advancements in new mail intelligence, engineering and IT systems, payment technology and corporate information security.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:06 PM1 comments
The White House on Oct. 24 tapped Luke McCormack, a former IT executive at the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration and border protection agencies, to become DHS's top CIO.
McCormack has been rumored for weeks to be the leading candidate to fill the DHS CIO position last held by Richard Spires. Margie Graves has been acting CIO since March 15, when Spires went on leave from the position after four years of service. Spires resigned in May after two months leave that remain largely unexplained.
McCormack is currently the CIO and deputy assistant attorney general for information resources management at the Justice Department, a post he has held since February 2012.
The DHS nomination chips away at the nagging number of top-level management vacancies that have beleaguered the department in recent months. DHS still has more than a dozen such positions left unfilled -- and the Internal Revenue Service announced on Oct. 24 that it was hiring away DHS CFO Peggy Sherry, effective Nov. 4 -- but the last month has seen efforts to fill some of those vacancies either permanently or temporarily.
In fact, McCormack’s nod comes just days after the White House moved to fill the vacant top leadership slot at DHS. On Oct. 17 President Barack Obama nominated former Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson to replace Janet Napolitano.
When McCormack’s name began circulating in September as a potential CIO candidate, sources familiar with DHS praised the choice, saying his previous work t Immigration and Customs Enforcement – where he was CIO from 2005 to 2012 -- gives him valuable experience with its parent agency, its IT leadership and operations.
He also previously served at Customs and Border Protection as acting director of infrastructure services division from 2004 to 2005, director of architecture and engineering from 2002 to 2003, and director of systems engineering from 1999 to 2002.
Before joining the federal government, according to the White House announcement, McCormack worked at various private sector companies, including MCI and Ford Aerospace.
Posted by Mark Rockwell on Oct 25, 2013 at 6:46 AM0 comments
The Internal Revenue Service has tapped the Homeland Security Department’s chief financial officer to become its new deputy commissioner for operations support.
On Nov. 4, Peggy Sherry will move to the IRS to oversee the 11,500 employees in that agency’s IT operations, as well as its Human Capital Office, procurement, real estate, physical security, employee assistance and operations that watch over sensitive taxpayer information.
Sherry will replace Beth Tucker, who is retiring.
DHS confirmed that its budget director, Chip Fulghum, will become interim CFO there on Nov. 4.
Sherry was named DHS CFO in April 2012, after serving as acting and deputy CFO from 2008 to 2012. She also formerly served as deputy CFO and financial reports supervisor for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and as an assistant director at the Government Accountability Office.
Posted by Mark Rockwell on Oct 24, 2013 at 9:22 AM0 comments
Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, is expected to retire by April 2014, according to U.S. officials cited in a Reuters report. Alexander's deputy John "Chris" Inglis is also expected to leave by the end of this year.
The news comes amid a continuing drumbeat of stories about electronic spying and data collection programs carried out by the NSA, with the cooperation from leading Internet and telecommunications companies, as revealed in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Alexander continues to defend NSA data collection, including bulk collection of metadata on domestic phone calls. "It's in the nation's best interest to put the phone data into a repository that the American public knows what we're doing with," Alexander said at a recent cybersecurity event covered by FCW. "I'm open for transparency. I'm open for where we put the data. ... How do we ensure that the American people know what we're doing is exactly right without letting the terrorists know how to circumvent it? That's the real issue."
During his term as head of Cyber Command, Alexander has called on Congress to pass legislation to allow for real-time information sharing between government and private-sector operators of critical infrastructure. The threat of cyberattack, Alexander told a Senate committee in March, is "getting worse."
Alexander has been NSA chief for eight years. His departure would give President Barack Obama an opportunity to select a candidate to lead the spy agency, and possibly to separate the roles of NSA head and leader of Cyber Command.
Vice Adm. Mike Rogers, who heads the 10th Fleet and the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, is a potential successor to replace Alexander, according to the Reuters report.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Oct 16, 2013 at 1:23 PM3 comments
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is leaving his post for unexplained reasons.
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will step down as of Dec. 4, according to an Oct. 10 release from the Defense Department.
In the release, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel "reluctantly accepted his decision" and praised Carter's loyalty and effectiveness. Carter, 59, gave no reason for his departure.
Prior to becoming deputy defense secretary, Carter served as undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics under former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. In that role he headed up DOD's Better Buying Power acquisition reform plan, among other initiatives.
As deputy secretary Carter took the lead on numerous initiatives, including planning amid budget cuts across the department as well as plans to "pivot" the focus of U.S. military strategy toward Asia.
Hagel called him "a brilliant strategist and excellent manager," and said Carter "possesses an unparalleled knowledge of every facet of America's defense enterprise, having worked directly and indirectly for eleven Secretaries of Defense over the course of his storied career."
"I have continually relied upon Ash to help solve the toughest challenges facing the Department of Defense," Hagel said. "I particularly appreciate his work spearheading the Strategic Choices and Management Review, which put the department in a far stronger position to manage through unprecedented budget uncertainty... but Ash's most recent tour of the department will be especially remembered for his tremendous efforts to provide more agile and effective support for our warfighters and their families."
Posted by Amber Corrin on Oct 10, 2013 at 2:11 PM0 comments
The continued partial government shutdown has prompted GCN to delay its 26th annual awards gala until Nov. 19.
The event, which honors federal, state and local government teams for their extraordinary IT accomplishments, had been scheduled for Oct. 16. This year's federal winners include teams from the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security and Treasury, and from NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Archives and Records Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
GCN and FCW are both owned by 1105 Media.
Posted by FCW Staff on Oct 10, 2013 at 5:34 AM0 comments
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was to speak at the GEOINT Symposium later this month.
The U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation announced late on Oct. 8 that the partial government shutdown has forced the postponement of its flagship GEOINT Symposium.
The geospatial intelligence conference, scheduled to feature speakers including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, was to be held Oct. 14-16 in Tampa, Fla.
USGIF previously had acknowledged the shutdown would affect the conference, but that it still planned to hold the event.
Ironically, it was ' enactment last week of legislation authorizing Defense Department personnel to be paid and ending much of DOD's furlough that forced a change in plans.
"Recently the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 'Pay Our Military Act,' which allowed most Defense Department personnel to return to their jobs alongside the excepted personnel who were still working," Keith Masback, USGIF CEO, wrote in an e-mail to attendees. "However, the act also included language that has made it impossible for personnel to travel (except in direct support of operational forces) or attend events — including the GEOINT 2013 Symposium."
The conference is now slated to be held in spring 2014. More details can be found on the GEOINT website.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Oct 09, 2013 at 9:26 AM0 comments
Justin Herman and his 'shutdown beard,' which he's been documenting on Twitter since the shutdown began. (Image from Herman's Instagram.)
FCW posted its top seven feds to follow on Twitter on Day One of the government shutdown. At first glance that might seem counterintuitive -- many agencies tweeted that they would be unable to update their accounts during the shutdown. But some feds are keeping the Twitterverse illuminated with their shutdown stories and opinions via their personal accounts.
Justin Herman, social media guru for the General Services Administration, is providing updates on his #shutdownbeard. A day before the shutdown, Herman tweeted "I've taken 3 oaths of office in 10 years: military officer; Congressional aide; Fed executive. Public service demands an Iron Price sometimes".
Beth Beck, open innovation program manager at NASA, signed off with a flourish. "Shutting down my NASA iPhone + iPad during furlough = forced digital detox. Let the cleanse begin," she tweeted.
Some feds tend toward comedy, others toward opinion. Dan Munz, deputy assistant director for consumer engagement at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, tweeted, "Basically, there's now a strong incentive to fill legislation with minor symbolic things you can bargain away later to protect the core."
Munz's agency is fairly new, so he can perhaps be forgiven for ignoring the fact that using legislative leverage to get what you want has been a staple of congressional affairs since the days of Hamilton and Jefferson trading the states' debt for a capital on the Potomac.
Others eschewed politics for simple good manners. After tweeting about data.gov not being accessible during the shutdown, Jeanne Holm of NASA tweeted, "I've never wanted to say 'I'm sorry' to so many people in one day. Thanks for your patience and understanding."
Posted by Reid Davenport on Oct 07, 2013 at 1:57 PM1 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Oct 04, 2013 at 7:51 AM0 comments
James Cochrane, a 39-year postal service veteran, will take over as CIO on an acting basis.
The U.S. Postal Service has tapped an acting CIO to replace Ellis Burgoyne, who retired Oct. 1.
James Cochrane, formerly vice president of USPS's product information department, will temporarily replace Burgoyne, according to an announcement from Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.
Like his predecessor, the Postal Service's only CIO to emerge internally, Cochrane has already had a lengthy career at USPS.
Over the past 39 years, Cochrane has held leadership roles in several departments, including ground shipping, marketing and strategy for expedited package services. He also served as associate vice president of sales for the former Northeast Region, where he was responsible for commercial sales of $12 billion annually.
It is unclear how quickly USPS will pursue a permanent CIO, but Donahoe indicated USPS's technology plans will not wait.
Cochrane "will oversee the integration of technology and innovation in delivering more than 170 billion pieces of mail to an estimated 150 million homes and businesses nationwide," Donahoe said, and "will direct the advancement of new mail intelligence, engineering systems, information technology systems, payment technology and corporate information security to meet the changing needs of our customers."
Posted by Frank Konkel on Oct 03, 2013 at 12:23 PM3 comments
Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence retires with 41 years of Army experience.
Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence is retiring after 41 years of Army service, including more than two years as the service’s chief information officer.
"When I stepped into the CIO/G-6 position, I knew I would be in for one of the most challenging jobs I'd ever had. What I didn't know is that it would also be one of the most rewarding," Lawrence wrote in a farewell blog post on the CIO/G-6 website. "Together, we have created what I sincerely hope will be irreversible momentum in modernizing our Army and leveraging technology to keep us the most capable force in the world."
Lawrence began serving as Army CIO on March 2, 2011. The Iowa native has commanded at every level from platoon to Army Signal Command, according to her bio.
In her time at CIO/G-6, Lawrence championed Army efforts in data center consolidation, network modernization and the transition to enterprise email, a plan she said will save $1.5 billion annually beginning in 2015.
Lawrence also encouraged colleagues to focus on the launch of cyber protection teams.
"We must execute this to standard – it is a no-fail mission," she wrote. "It will take the entire team to achieve this goal. To ensure success, we need to identify the right talent and, as individuals are selected, your support to allow them to transition to the CPTs. Our relevancy depends on getting the CPTs into the force quickly and smoothly."
With Lawrence stepping down, Mike Krieger, deputy CIO/G-6, will take over the top job on an acting basis. Brig. Gen. Joseph Brendler, CIO/G-6 director of architecture, operations, networks and space, is serving as acting deputy CIO.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Oct 02, 2013 at 9:35 AM0 comments
Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn most recently served as commanding general of the Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
The Defense Information Systems Agency has a familiar face in place as its new vice director: Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn, who most recently served as commanding general of the Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
Lynn assumed the role as of Sept. 30, marking a return to DISA after leaving as chief of staff in 2008. Prior to his NETCOM assignment, Lynn commanded the Army Signal Center of Intelligence.
Lynn succeeds Rear Adm. David Simpson, who in a Sept. 30 DISA release reflected on his experience at the agency, where he had served as vice director since July 2011.
"I have always been a DISA fan," Simpson said. "What I didn't fully appreciate [before working here], was the breadth and depth of the talent at DISA. I have been very impressed with the number of simultaneous activities that go on all around the world, every day, led by individuals at DISA who see the imperative to reduce mission gaps and to provide new capabilities for warfighters at the edge."
Simpson stepped in at DISA in the midst of a tumultuous Army-wide transition to enterprise email, an experience he said led him to an "epiphany" that even the greatest technology cannot be a change agent by itself.
Simpson also looked back at DISA's evolving approaches to mobility, cybersecurity, the Joint Information Environment and warfighter support overall, while offering a hint of what Lynn has to look forward to
"I think DISA will be an agency that is increasingly predictive and proactive as it brings all of the support functions — acquisition, procurement, technology, research and development, test and evaluation, and spectrum — together in an enterprise framework," he said. "I also see DISA in a lead role for the command and control of DOD information networks and defensive cyber operations, where the each of the service components, combatant commanders and theater forces rely upon DISA to anchor the information environment supporting all of their critical operations."
Posted by Amber Corrin on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:30 PM0 comments
Rafael Borras will become acting DHS secretary.
The White House has tapped Rafael Borras to become acting deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. Borras has been undersecretary for management at the agency since 2011. Chris Cummiskey, DHS's deputy undersecretary for management, will step into Borras' old job in an acting capacity. DHS officials confirmed both appointments.
The two appointments come as DHS has more than a dozen top-level managers' slots that are either vacant or filled by acting officers.
Borras replaces Rand Beers, who had stepped in for acting deputy secretary Jane Holl Lute after she left DHS in May. Lute is now president and CEO of the Council on CyberSecurity, a nonprofit organization launched in mid-August.
DHS has been under pressure to fill its vacant leadership posts. At a Sept. 19 House Homeland Security Committee hearing, Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) remarked that 18 of the agency's top 40 management positions were vacant.
The agency lost former DHS secretary Janet Napolitano in September when she departed the agency to become president of the California's state university system. Napolitano's permanent replacement has not been nominated.
President Barack Obama's nominee to fill the deputy secretary position, Alejandro Mayorkas, is still awaiting a Senate confirmation vote. Mayorkas, who is currently director of the Citizenship and Immigration Service, is being investigated by the DHS inspector general as part of a broader inquiry into CIS's foreign investor program.
Posted by Mark Rockwell on Sep 27, 2013 at 9:06 AM0 comments
Sen. Rand Paul wants a constitutional amendment to apply Obamacare to everyone, including federal employees and Supreme Court justices.
Federal employees found out that their health insurance premiums were going up an average of 3.4 percent for fiscal year 2014. That may seem like bad news, but if one lawmaker has his way, annual single-digit premium increases under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan might be fondly remembered as the good old days.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced plans to propose a constitutional amendment that would, among other things, require federal employees to purchase health insurance on exchanges created by the 2010 health care law. Details of the proposal were not available, but it appears that it would eliminate a raft of benefits enjoyed by feds, including the subsidy that helps pay about 72 percent of federal employees' insurance premiums.
Paul singled out for special mention Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who wrote the 2012 opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius that upheld the law.
"My amendment says basically that everybody, including Justice Roberts -- who seems to be such a fan of Obamacare -- gets it too," Paul told the Daily Caller, a conservative news website. "See, right now, Justice Roberts is still continuing to have federal employee health insurance subsidized by the taxpayer. And if he likes Obamacare so much, I'm going to give him an amendment that gives Obamacare to Justice Roberts."
Paul's proposal comes more than a month after the Office of Personnel Management announced that members of Congress and their staffs, who are required to buy health insurances via exchanges under a provision of the law, will obtain premium support from their employers -- the government. Private employers are specifically barred by the law from providing any such subsidy. The OPM provided the special exemption after fears that the elimination of premium support would create a wave of resignations among congressional staffers.
A constitutional amendment would have to gain the support of two-thirds majorities in the House and the Senate, then be ratified by three-fourths of the states, so the chances of Paul's amendment being ratified are fairly close to zero. But legislative proposals to end the OPM-approved subsidy for lawmakers and staff could become part of the debate over fiscal 2014 appropriations as the clock ticks down on fiscal 2013.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Sep 25, 2013 at 11:06 AM4 comments
Rep. Paul Broun said NASA and NOAA were 'inconsiderate' for not providing testimony in advance.
Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA felt the wrath of Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun during a Sept. 19 hearing on efforts to launch new satellites critical to the nation's weather forecasting.
Broun chastised both agencies, calling the failure to provide prepared testimony to lawmakers in advance "inconsiderate," especially given the magnitude of the issues at hand.
Neither agency provided written testimony 48 hours in advance to members of the Science, Space and Technology subcommittees on Environment and Oversight, as is the usual practice. Broun chairs the oversight subcommittee.
"I would have appreciated reading the testimonies 48 hours ago, when they were due," Broun said, before taking both scientific agencies further to task.
Broun, a candidate for Georgia's open Senate seat in 2014, also expressed dissatisfaction with NASA for not complying with congressional requests about which official would testify.
Broun did not say whom the subcommittees had wanted to appear, but it was not Marcus Watkins, director of the Joint Agency Satellite Division, who represented NASA. Watkins was unable to provide answers to many questions after he delivered his prepared remarks.
Broun then excoriated NOAA for what he considered its lax approach in responding to questions from committee members. The congressman said NOAA has yet to submit answers to questions from more than a year ago, and instructed Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for Satellite and Information Service at NOAA, to provide answers soon to previous questions and to be more prompt about responding to future requests for information.
Broun said NOAA's actions -- much like its failure to provide advance testimony -- were "inappropriate and inconsiderate."
Posted by Frank Konkel on Sep 19, 2013 at 8:02 AM2 comments
The Federal Trade Commission has found its new chief information officer.
FTC officials confirmed Bajinder Paul, deputy associate administrator of citizen services and innovative technologies at the General Services Administration, will replace former FTC CIO Jeff Huskey, who left the agency in March.
Paul has a lengthy resume in IT management, the last three years of which have been spent at GSA. Previously, he served nearly four years as CIO at the Treasury Department's Office of the Comptroller of Currency, a combined three years as acting CIO and deputy CIO at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and four years at various positions at the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Paul is a two-time Federal 100 winner. He earned the award in 2008 for creating a Web portal to provide nationwide access to all types of housing disaster assistance while at HUD and again in 2010 at Treasury, where he launched an IT modernization strategy built on business-driven architecture, cloud computing and Web-based tools.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Sep 18, 2013 at 2:28 PM1 comments
Private-sector companies spend billions of dollars each year on cybersecurity to keep the bad guys out of their systems, but their efforts are often exercises in futility as the tools and capabilities of cyber threats continue to increase.
Verizon's 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) puts the increased threat in perspective, containing data on 47,000 cyber-security incidents and 621 confirmed data breaches reported by 19 worldwide partners, including the U.S. Secret Service. Twenty percent of reported private-sector breaches – 70 percent of breaches are discovered by third parties, by the way – were perpetrated by state-affiliated actors such as China, according to DBIR, and most often driven by financial motives.
And as Steven Chabinsky, senior vice president of legal affairs and chief risk officer of Crowdstrike told an audience at an FCW cybersecurity briefing Sept. 12 in Washington, D.C., the bigger that companies and federal agencies build their walls, the taller ladders these adversaries come up with to scale them.
"The bad guys don't give up," said Chabinsky, specifying that attacks are often perpetuated by the same parties. Yet strong defenses and big data analytics for situational awareness do little to curb outside threats or reduce or eliminate future threats.
Chabinsky recommended a different course of action, calling for the government to go on the offensive with diplomatic, informational, military, economic and law enforcement threat-deterrence options, in addition to private sector civil remedies.
"The government had better get a handle on threat deterrence. The private sector has had enough," Chabinsky said. "We need to shift to threat deterrence."
Chabinsky's comments differed from those expressed at the same briefing by Thomas Rid, author of "Cyber War Will Not Take Place." Chabinsky argued that, without more credible U.S. deterrence, cyber-attacks and their consequences could indeed rise to a level of cyber-war.
Rid, citing the "black budget" leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, said the U.S. government already spends too much money on offensive cybersecurity tactics. More money, he said, should go toward defending existing networks.
Note: This story was updated on Sept. 17 to clarify Chabinsky's emphasis on threat deterrence.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Sep 17, 2013 at 7:23 PM0 comments
Chris Kemp will bring in a new CEO at his company, Nebula.
As government exits go, Chris Kemp's 2011 decision to leave NASA and launch a company to build OpenStack cloud services was particularly ambitious. But the former CTO's firm, Nebula, is two years old and growing, and on Sept. 13 Kemp announced that he is stepping aside as CEO to bring in industry veteran Gordon Stitt.
Kemp, a 2010 Federal 100 winner, is now Nebula's chief strategy officer. He remains on the board and will continue as a member of the executive team, according to the company's announcement.
OpenStack is an open-source cloud computing platform for public and private clouds that has its roots in NASA's Nebula Cloud Computing Platform. NASA joined forces with Rackspace, which has developed a similar project, to create OpenStack in 2010.
Stitt will formally take over as CEO on Sept. 23.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Sep 13, 2013 at 10:14 AM0 comments
DNI James Clapper argues that a new IT initiative might have prevented the leaks of classified information that exposed details about NSA operations. (File photo)
A new IT strategy being implemented by the intelligence community might have sniffed out National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden as he was downloading classified material from agency systems to leak to reporters, says the nation's top intelligence officer.
The original motivation for the new Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (ICITE), designed to unify systems across 17 intelligence agencies, was cost savings, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a speech at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance IC Summit event Sept. 12.
"What we're spending on IT in the intelligence community is amazing," Clapper said. The cloud-based ICITE approach saves money while encouraging integration among component agencies and improving security. "The Snowden issue emphasizes the importance of doing it," he said.
"The bumper-sticker mantra is 'tag the data, tag the people'," Clapper said. The approach allows intelligence agencies to "label the data and assure yourself of the bona fides of the people with whom you're going to share," he said. Without offering details, Clapper suggested that implementation is not an entirely painless process. "We're well past the euphoria of what a great idea this is, and we're into the passive aggressive resistance phase."
Clapper pointedly stated that he did not consider Snowden a whistleblower, but he offered a silver lining to the cloud that's hanging over the intelligence community. "As loathe as I am to give any credit for what's happened here, which is egregious, I think it's clear that some of the conversations that this has generated, some of the debate, probably needed to happen. Perhaps it's unfortunate it didn't happen some time ago," he said.
Because of Snowden, the intelligence community is bringing more "emphasis and energy" to insider threat detection, Clapper said. One of the pieces of this is clearance reform, both in improving the process and making sure that the government follows up on the five-year reinvestigations into cleared personnel. He intimated that plans were in the works to automate the process of maintaining security clearances. "We've got to change the system, fix it, take advantage of technology so we are enabled to evaluate people continuously, not just periodically," he said.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Sep 12, 2013 at 3:00 PM1 comments
Jo Ann Rooney is the president's nominee for Navy undersecretary.
President Barack Obama on Sept. 10 announced nominations for high-level positions in the departments of Veterans Affairs and Navy, potentially filling roles that have been vacant since spring.
At the Defense Department, Obama nominated Jo Ann Rooney as Navy undersecretary. Rooney serves managing director at the Huron Consulting Group in Chicago, a position she has held since 2012.
In 2011 and 2012, Rooney was the principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, where she oversaw military readiness and acted as the deputy senior policy advisor to the Defense Secretary on recruitment, career development, pay and benefits for roughly 3.5 million military and civilian personnel. She also has a background in academia and the private sector, with a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania and law degrees from Boston University and Suffolk University, according to her DOD bio.
Rooney would replace Robert Work, who stepped down as Navy undersecretary in March after four years in the position.
At the VA, Sloan Gibson, president and CEO of the United Services Organization, was nominated as deputy secretary at the VA. Gibson has been at the USO since 2008. Prior to that, he spent two decades in the banking industry, according to his USO bio. The 1975 West Point graduate earned both Airborne and Ranger qualifications and served as an Army infantry officer. Gibson is a graduate of the University of Missouri and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Gibson would succeed Scott Gould, who resigned May 17 amid an exodus of top VA officials that included Chief of Staff John Gingrich, CIO Roger Baker and CTO Peter Levin. The departures came amid troubles at the VA, particularly related to its IT operations.
Both nominees face Senate confirmation.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Sep 11, 2013 at 5:55 AM2 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Sep 10, 2013 at 6:35 AM0 comments
James C. "Jim" Bradley, a longtime leader at the Government Printing Office, has been named deputy public printer.
Bradley has served as assistant public printer for operations and as head of the Official Journals of Government unit, which helps produce the Congressional Record, the Federal Register and other key GPO products. In his new post, Bradley will lead marketing operations at GPO, overseeing printing plants, sales, and products including the Congressional Record, passports and other federal identification credentials.
Davita Vance-Cooks, public printer and head of the GPO, said, "Jim's experience in federal printing and information policy issues is unrivaled. He is a natural leader with a proven record of success in managing GPO's operations to meet the critical needs of Congress and federal agencies. He is especially well-qualified to pursue the changes necessitated by the recent recommendations of the National Academy of Public Administration and he will keep GPO moving forward in this digital era."
Before joining GPO in 1998, Bradley served as a staff member on the Joint Committee on Printing, a bicameral Congressional panel charged with oversight of the GPO.
Bradley's appointment comes at a time of flux for the agency. In her confirmation hearing and in comments on the radio show "Federal Drive," Vance-Cooks spoke of her desire to rebrand the agency as the Government Publishing Office, a nod to how much of the agency's efforts are focused on digital documents, databases and mobile applications.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Sep 03, 2013 at 1:05 PM0 comments
Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon has taken the helm at Army Cyber Command. In this 2009 photo, Cardon, left, while serving as acting commandant of the Command and General Staff College, congratulates class president Lt. Col. Richard Malish during the Intermediate Level Education graduation ceremony. (Army photo)
In a ceremony held Sept. 3 at Fort Belvoir, Va., Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno swore in Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon as commander of Army Cyber Command.
Cardon previously served as commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea. Prior to that, he was deputy commanding general for support for U.S. Forces-Iraq. That appointment was the last of Cardon’s several commanding positions in and deployments to Iraq.
According to his bio, Cardon was born in Texas and raised in California, and has received roughly a dozen decorations for his service since being commissioned as an engineer officer from the U.S. Military Academy in 1982.
Cardon succeeds Maj. Gen. Rhett Hernandez, who is retiring, as head of Army Cyber Command/2nd Army.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Sep 03, 2013 at 3:16 PM3 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Aug 30, 2013 at 10:07 AM0 comments
Victoria Espinel, who led intellectual property enforcement for the federal government, will take over as president and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance, a trade group that represents software companies.
Espinel was the first U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator in the Office of Management and Budget. The post was designed to align the work of law enforcement organizations, federal agencies, private companies and foreign governments in preventing and prosecuting intellectual property theft and infringement. Often likened to a "copyright czar," the job was established by Congress in 2008 and first staffed under the Obama administration.
BSA supports intellectual property protection and the advancement of cloud computing on behalf of commercial firms, including Adobe, Intel, IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and many others.
Espinel figured prominently in two industry agreements designed to thwart intellectual property theft. In July of this year, her office announced a deal among leading online content and advertising companies, including Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, to reduce the flow of ad revenue to websites that attract audiences by posting pirated material. In 2011, Espinel helped broker a deal between Internet service providers and entertainment companies to allow ISPs to disrupt the service to individuals suspected of pirating music and movies using peer-to-peer networks.
She has won plaudits from copyright activists and industry for her work. Gigi Sohn, president and CEO of the open Internet group Public Knowledge, said Espinel "Understood the importance of balance and fair use in copyright policy -- these were not merely buzzwords for her."
Before taking on the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator post, Espinel served as the assistant U.S. trade representative for intellectual property and innovation during the George W. Bush administration.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 28, 2013 at 11:36 AM1 comments
The South by Southwest conference attracts top-tier speakers like Tesla founder Elon Musk, while also digging into the details of technology's impact. (Photo courtesy of SXSW Inc.)
Given tight budgets and travel restrictions, most feds likely would be hard-pressed to secure permission to attend South by Southwest. But for those who can find a way -- or simply decide to make a personal trek to the Austin, Texas, festival next March -- Gadi Ben-Yehuda of the IBM Center for the Business of Government has a list of especially relevant proposed panels.
In a post on GovLoop, Ben-Yehuda offered this list of provocative topics, and urged government techies to vote for the ones they like best:
SXSW may be overhyped, Ben-Yehuda allowed, but it still boasts "speakers that should inspire anyone interested in technology's impact." Or at least anyone who can get the travel approved.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Aug 26, 2013 at 11:11 AM1 comments
Castle Muiderslot in Muiden, Holland, and its moat. (Stock image)
It takes more than a moat to protect a castle, especially if it's made of data.
That's according to Mark Day, acting deputy assistant commissioner of Integrated Technology Services at GSA, who voiced a few interesting sound bites at an Aug. 22 IT procurement forum.
Day, fielding a question about cyber-security at the Lowering the Cost of Government with IT Summit in Washington, D.C., said current cyber efforts are not enough to protect sensitive data across the government. He suggested all such data be encrypted unless it is in use.
Day referenced Army Pvt. Manning, recently sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, and Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor who divulged classified surveillance secrets to the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers. Both, he noted, were insiders – people against whom the large "moat" of on-premise cyber-security does little to defend.
"Insider threats have always been and will always be one of our primary issues – can you spell Snowden or Manning?" Day said. "If the moat didn't work, let's look at new models beyond the moat and a stack of paper."
Day questioned why data was ever unencrypted "except when it is used on screen," suggesting it be encrypted at all other times, including when it is essentially "at rest." He hinted there would be problems in such a scenario, though he did not divulge what they would be.
Ultimately, Day said existing cyber-security measures may help keep out the bad guys, but only if those bad guys aren't your guys.
"We're doing a lot of work to build moats," Day said.
And the moats aren't working.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Aug 23, 2013 at 11:36 AM0 comments
DNI James Clapper introduces "IC on the Record" on Tumblr. (File photo)
The National Security Agency may have misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has acknowledged answering Congress in the "least untruthful manner" possible, but on the Tumblr blogging service, the Intelligence Community is all about opening up to the public. Or so it says.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Aug. 21 launched IC on the Record, a new blog devoted to providing "immediate, ongoing and direct access to factual information related to the lawful foreign surveillance activities carried out by the U.S. Intelligence Community."
The first day's postings included nine declassified documents relating to Section 702 of FISA. Other materials were pre-posted before launch, dating back to President Barak Obama's Aug. 9 remarks promising a website to share such information.
Clapper, noting that "Americans are engaged in a discussion" about the IC's surveillance efforts, wrote on the blog that "it is imperative that we do so with a full understanding of what the existing foreign surveillance authorities allow, what the oversight mechanisms are, and most important of all how they contribute to our safety and security."
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Aug 22, 2013 at 9:01 AM0 comments
Daniel Pietro is now director of cybersecurity and technology at DOD's CIO office. (LinkedIn profile picture)
Daniel Prieto will join the Defense Department as a top cybersecurity official.
Prieto, who recently served as vice president of IBM's public sector global business services, was appointed to the Senior Executive Service and named director of cybersecurity and technology at DOD's CIO office in Washington. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced his appointment on Aug. 20.
The new director is no stranger to cybersecurity policy: He also has been a senior associate in the Center for Strategic and International Studies' homeland security and counterterrorism program since 2010. Prior to that, Prieto was research director at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government's Homeland Security Partnership Initiative. He also served as a professional staff member on the House's select committee on homeland security, according to his LinkedIn bio.
Prieto "has worked for two decades in the private sector, academia, and government at the intersection of technology, public policy, and national and homeland security issues," his CSIS bio states. Between 2002 and 2007, he has held various fellowship appointments at the Center for National Policy, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Kennedy School of Government, Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation and George Washington University.
Prieto also has held positions at America Online and J.P. Morgan., and is a member of the Aspen Homeland Security Group, co-founder and co-director of the American Bar Association's Cybersecurity Working Group, and a member of the Committee on Law and Justice of the National Academy of Sciences, according to the Center for National Policy.
Earlier this summer, Prieto wrote about the evolution of the intelligence community and its use of technology in a piece for Foreign Policy.
Posted on Aug 21, 2013 at 12:56 PM0 comments
The deputy assistant commissioner of the General Services Administration's Integrated Technology Services has been named to a new position.
GSA confirmed that Kevin Youel Page, who had been ITS deputy assistant commissioner, is now acting assistant commissioner of the Integrated Award Environment.
The Federal Acquisition Service's Office of Integrated Technology Services is headed by Assistant Commissioner Mary Davie. According to the GSA's website, Mark Day, director of the Office of Strategic Programs, is now acting deputy assistant commissioner, taking over Page's duties. Day's own LinkedIn profile also reflected the change, noting: "Interesting role to be a deputy. That is one role in long career that I have always avoided, but when asked to serve....!"
ITS is responsible for providing access to best-value IT and telecommunications products, services, and solutions to federal, state, local and tribal government organizations.
Page, meanwhile, replaces Amanda Fredriksen, who had also been running the Integrated Award Environment in an acting capacity. Fredriksen was reportedly placed on administrative leave in June in the wake of a May report from the GSA inspector general that reviewed 2011 leadership conferences in Orlando and Atlanta.
Posted by Mark Rockwell on Aug 19, 2013 at 3:00 PM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Aug 16, 2013 at 8:06 AM0 comments
Korean rapper Psy's "Gangnam Style" is a recent example of wildly successful viral video.
What kind of content goes viral, and why should feds take notice?
The answers to those questions and loads of additional social media insights are catalogued in a storified aggregation of tweets taken during a July 30 SocialGov Summit.
Justin Herman, new media manager at the General Services Administration’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government, documented the commentary and uploaded it to GSA’s new media website Aug. 13.
The compilation gives feds a glimpse of the power social media has outside the government, as well as innovative approaches agencies such as GSA and NASA are taking with it. Take a look and learn a little.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Aug 14, 2013 at 5:46 AM0 comments
David Wennergren didn't spend much time enjoying a leisurely retirement. Barely more than a week after retiring from the Defense Department on Aug. 2, Wennergren has become a vice president at CACI International.
He starts his new job Sept. 3 as the vice president of opportunity management and customer delivery practices in the company's enterprise technologies and services business group.
"This will be the longest break I've had in over 30 years," he said.
Wennergren looks back at his career and the leadership lessons he learned.
Most recently, he served as the assistant deputy chief management officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and was DOD's deputy CIO. He's also been the Navy's CIO. He spent 33 years working in the Navy and Defense Department.
Several factors played into picking CACI for his first job in the public sector, Wennergren told Washington Technology.
"To me there are three things that should drive the decision of where you work," he said. "Who you get to work with; who you get to work for; and what you get to work on."
Who he gets to work with is a former colleague and mentor from the Defense Department, Dan Porter, who is an executive vice president of the enterprise technologies and services group where Wennergren is assigned.
"I have the opportunity to work with Dan again, and he is one of the smartest and brightest guys I've ever met," Wennergren said. "To work with him again is a really big plus."
The two first met as Navy civilians when Porter was running logistics operations, and Wennergren worked under him. When Porter became Navy CIO, he picked Wennergren as his deputy. After Porter retired, Wennergren took over as CIO.
"He has coached and mentored me throughout my career," Wennergren said.
He also was looking for a company that shared his values about service to the nation, integrity and delivering high-value solutions.
"CACI seemed like a really great match to me," he said. "I really wanted an opportunity to continue to help government make a difference."
Wennergren sees the government at a critical crossroads, in that there is rapid technological change taking place that is providing opportunities to do things in new and different ways, and improve how government operates.
"At the same time, the government is going to be dealing with tough financial times for years go to come," he said. "So, how you prioritize going forward is going to be crucial, and I want to help organizations work through that."
His new role at CACI will include a healthy dose of learning about the private sector and how business operates. He'll work on strategy and developing solutions for clients, he said.
"This is an opportunity to learn about the company and its clients, and figure out how to make a difference," he said.
There will be a focus on maritime and aerospace because that's an important business area for the group he's joining. "But I think primarily it'll be about helping to understand what the opportunities are out there, and working with government organizations about delivery value," he said.
CACI praised Wennergren's leadership and "great insight into how we can continue to evolve our capabilities to support the government's most critical information solutions and services requirements," said CACI CEO Ken Asbury in a statement.
Among his accomplishments is leading the DOD Enterprise Software Initiative, as well as chairing the DOD team overseeing implementation of the Defense Department's Common Access Card. His awards include the DOD Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award.
He's also chaired FCW's Fed100 judges' panel for several years. FCW is a sister publication to Washington Technology.
Joining CACI is not some sort of swan song for Wennergren, but a new chapter.
"I just turned 55, so I still have miles to go before I sleep," he said.
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Aug 13, 2013 at 4:16 PM2 comments
Phyllis Schneck, McAfee's chief technology officer and vice president of the security software company's global sector, will be named undersecretary of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, say sources familiar with DHS cybersecurity operations.
Although DHS and McAfee wouldn't confirm the move, industry sources have said Schneck will be named undersecretary after Acting Undersecretary Bruce McConnell departs. McConnell said in July that he planned to leave in August to return to the private sector.
With her deep background in high-performance computing and cryptography, Schneck emerged as strong candidate for the job in July, as the department searched for a permanent replacement after McConnell's departure. She serves as chairman of the board of directors of the National Cyberforensics and Training Alliance, a partnership among government, law enforcement and the private sector that provides information analytics that have been used to prosecute cyber criminals worldwide.
At McAfee, Schneck is responsible for public sector security and global threat intelligence applications, strategic thought leadership around technology and policy in cybersecurity, and initiatives in adaptive security and intelligence in networks for critical infrastructure protection and cross-sector cyber security.
McConnell became acting undersecretary in April after Mark Weatherford left DHS for the Chertoff Group consultancy after about a year-and-a-half on the job. McConnell had been DHS's senior counselor for cybersecurity before taking on the role of acting undersecretary.
Schneck will take over at a challenging time for DHS cybersecurity, which is in the midst of two major tasks: Carrying out the president's cybersecurity executive order and expanding its internal cybersecurity efforts.
Posted by Mark Rockwell on Aug 06, 2013 at 12:58 PM0 comments
Lori Garver is taking a position with the Airline Pilots Association.
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced Aug. 6 via Twitter that she is leaving the space agency for a position with the Airline Pilots Association.
Garver, who held NASA's number-two position since July 2009, will work for NASA through Sept. 6, according to an agency spokesperson.
"I have had the pleasure and honor of working side by side with Lori for the past four years, as we sought to position the agency for 21st century spaceflight, scientific discovery and deep space exploration," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. "She has been an indispensable partner in our efforts to keep NASA on a trajectory of progress and innovation. In a time of great change and challenge, she has been a remarkable leader who has consistently shown great vision and commitment to NASA and the aerospace industry. "
John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, praised Garver's efforts during her tenure, not only in helping set NASA's aerospace priorities but also in leveraging partnerships to encourage young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
"She ensured that U.S. taxpayers were getting the most for their money from NASA with innovative public-private partnerships in space and on Earth, and her focus on getting more women and other underrepresented groups engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math was just as important," Holdren said
Garver, a Michigan native, worked previously for NASA from 1996 to 2001. As deputy administrator, she represented NASA to heads of other government agencies, the Executive Office of the President and Congress. Within NASA, Garver "led the way on so many" of the Obama administration's space priorities, Bolden said, including the agency's reestablishment of a space technology mission directorate, NASA's use of challenges and prizes to bolster scientific innovation, and the agency's commercial crew and cargo program.
There was no immediate word on who the White House would appoint to fill the position.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Aug 06, 2013 at 11:53 AM0 comments
The Obama administration’s signal late last week that the federal government would continue to offer contributions to the health care premiums of congressional staffers appears to clear the way for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to lift a hold on the nomination of Katherine Archuleta to head the Office of Personnel Management.
Coburn announced at a July 31 Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee meeting his intention to block a quick floor vote on Archuleta’s nomination until the administration made clear its position on health insurance benefits for congressional employees who are being forced out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and into insurance exchanges created by a provision of the 2010 health care overhaul.
Under the law, members and staff are required to move to exchanges. But the provision does not specify whether the government is allowed to make contributions to defray premium costs. Many lawmakers feared that staffers would have to pay their entire premiums out of pocket, which could induce many to leave for more lucrative private-sector jobs. Hill staffers are scheduled to begin enrolling in the exchanges Oct. 1.
Coburn is waiting to review the regulations before commenting on whether the administration has satisfied his request. OPM is expected to publish proposed regulations governing coverage for Hill staff later this week.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 05, 2013 at 3:26 PM0 comments
Davita Vance-Cooks is the first African-American and first woman to hold the title of public printer.
The Senate has confirmed Davita Vance-Cooks as head of the Government Printing Office, making her both the first African-American and first woman to hold the title of public printer.
Vance-Cooks has been the acting public printer since January 2012 and has more than 30 years of public- and private-sector experience. She has been at GPO since 2004, holding positions including chief of staff, managing director of publications and deputy managing director of customer services.
Vance-Cooks' confirmation comes amid GPO budget cuts and the agency's move towards increased digitization.
"I look forward to working with everyone who shares a stake in our historic mission of keeping America informed as we continue transitioning our products and services to meet the needs of Congress, federal agencies, and the public in this digital age," she said.
President Obama nominated Vance-Cooks in May and her confirmation was the quickest Senate action on a public printer nominee in almost 20 years. The GPO, which opened in 1861, is responsible for producing, procuring, cataloging, indexing, authenticating, disseminating, and preserving the official information products of the U.S. Government. This includes the production and distribution of passports, and of official publications of Congress, the White House and other federal agencies.
Posted by Reid Davenport on Aug 02, 2013 at 11:32 AM0 comments
President Obama nominated legislative aide Michael O’Rielly to the Federal Communications Commission post vacated by Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell.
The nomination paves the way for the Senate to hold a vote on the confirmation of Tom Wheeler as the new FCC chairman. Wheeler’s nomination was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on July 30, but Senate Republicans wanted to wait for a Republican nominee before proceeding with a confirmation vote.
O’Rielly is a policy advisor to Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas and has long experience working on technology and telecommuncations issues. He has worked in the whip’s office since 2012, spent time on the Republican Policy Committee in the Senate, and worked as a staffer on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. If confirmed by the Senate, he would serve out the remainder of McDowell’s five-year term, which ends June 30, 2014.
The FCC has been operating shorthanded for a few months now. Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has been leading the FCC as acting chairwoman since Julius Genachowski stepped down in May. McDowell resigned in March.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 02, 2013 at 11:06 AM0 comments
Jim Traficant will head ASM Research, a new acquisition for Accenture.
Federal 100 winner and Accenture Federal Services executive Jim Traficant will soon have a new job: president of ASM Research, the health care IT and human capital management firm which Accenture just acquired.
Traficant, who won his Fed 100 award in 2011 for his work at Harris Health Solutions on Federal Health Architecture for the Health and Human Services Department, is currently an AFS managing director. He leads Accenture's military health projects with the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, and will continue in his AFS role while running ASM Research as a subsidiary company.
Traficant spoke with Washington Technology on July 31 about the acquisition and what it means for federal health IT. The addition of ASM "provides unique access points into the market," he said, calling the acquisition and resulting business prospects a "once in a generation opportunity."
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Aug 01, 2013 at 3:24 PM0 comments
Gil Vega will take an unspecified financial-services position.
Gil Vega, the Energy Department's assistant CIO for cybersecurity and chief information security officer, is leaving his post for a private sector position.
Vega is heading to the New York City area, closer to his New Jersey roots, sometime in mid-August for an undisclosed job in the financial services industry, he told FCW on July 30.
Vega has been at DOE for two years. Prior to that, he was the chief information security officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Homeland Security Department. He also has held cybersecurity leadership roles in the Defense Department and intelligence community.
Paul Cunningham, deputy associate CIO for cybersecurity at DOE, will take over on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is found, Vega said.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Jul 30, 2013 at 2:48 PM1 comments
Former DHS CIO Richard Spires addresses a crowd gathered in his honor. (FCW photo by Frank Konkel)
Standing before a large crowd of friends and former colleagues gathered to recognize him on July 29, Richard Spires turned visibly emotional.
Spires, former Department of Homeland Security CIO, was clearly proud of an eight-year federal legacy that – at least on this night – seemed untainted by the strange circumstances under which he left government employment, yet also humbled to be appreciated by so many who came out in his honor.
Spires took the stage following a lengthy ramp-up in which person after person spoke highly of his integrity, character and work ethic. AFCEA Bethesda, GITEC, TechAmerica and AFFIRM sponsored the event, held at the National Press Club in Washington.
DHS acting CIO Margie Graves praised his leadership; acting and former DHS component CIOs expressed gratitude for his hard-nosed approach to federal IT efficiency; and several other DHS employees, other feds and industry leaders thanked him for his service.
The theme of their remarks was perhaps best summed up by Justice Department CIO Luke McCormack, who previously served alongside Spires as the CIO of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at DHS. McCormack made light of Spires' intense work ethic before highlighting the need for a sometimes-tenacious CIO at large agencies like DHS.
"Richard laid out thought processes and astute observations," McCormack said. "He would listen for a moment, and then put the pedal to the metal. We understood where the goal line was, where the compass was headed. That was exactly what DHS needed at the time."
When it was finally his turn to speak, Spires briefly addressed his departure from DHS—he resigned in May after two months on an unexplained leave -- with a touch of humor, and spent the next several minutes hinting as his plans before highlighting the growing importance of IT in federal government.
"I left on some interesting terms," Spires said, drawing laughs and prompting a few red faces in the crowd. "People can professionally disagree, and there were some disagreements. Given those disagreements, I made the decision to leave. I'm going to miss government."
Consulting on his own right now, Spires did not rule out another government gig, but he is expected to return to the private sector, where he first made a name for himself before becoming one of the most recognizable figures in federal IT. Spires served four years at the Internal Revenue Services and another four at DHS, where he managed a $6.4 billion IT portfolio and saw considerable successes in implementing federal cost-savings initiatives.
In addition, Spires was vice-chairman of the federal CIO Council.
"Never say never, I'm not that old," Spires said, speaking of whether he'd ever be a fed again. "Maybe someday I'll return to government, but I'm getting more excited about easing back into the private sector."
"I can't imagine not staying part of this community," he added, "so you're going to get to see me around, whether you want to or not. I want to continue to have the government operate more efficiently."
Posted by Frank Konkel on Jul 30, 2013 at 6:16 AM1 comments
Fed 100 winner Noel Dickover has joined the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Noel Dickover, the State Department's Office of eDiplomacy guru for the past three years and one of the coordinators largely responsible for its successful TechCamps program, left last week to begin a new position with the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). He started in the new position on July 29.
Dickover announced the move on Twitter, saying he had a "terrific 3 years" at State and that he was looking forward to working on USIP's Peace-Tech Lab. He started at the State Department on July 1, 2010.
Dickover told FCW his work at USIP will focus on using low-cost technology like crowdsourcing to build peace and help stabilize social culture, particularly in developing countries.
"It gives me an opportunity to build technology for social good ecosystems in developing countries," Dickover said.
USIP is an independent, federally funded nonpartisan institution established by Congress to help manage international conflicts without violence.
Dickover is highly respected for his work at the Office of eDiplomacy, earning a Fed 100 award in 2012 for his efforts training grassroots organizations all over the world and increasing their digital capacity through interactive TechCamp meetings.
His efforts in organizing and executing TechCamps in places including Thailand, Israel, India, the Ukraine, Moldova and Zanzibar empowered nongovernmental organizations to adopt tech-savvy approaches to issues pertaining to disaster response, economy opportunity, empowering women and in some cases, democracy.
"Technologists love to be Superman," Dickover told FCW in a 2012 interview. "The TechCamp format gives them that opportunity."
State offered no insight on who might replace Dickover.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Jul 29, 2013 at 1:30 PM0 comments
Will fewer ideas submitted for the SAVE Awards lead to more applause-worthy offerings?
The government is streamlining its annual search for money-saving ideas from federal workers in the hope that gathering fewer ideas will yield better ideas.
Agencies are being given more time to evaluate proposals, according to a July 26 memo from acting deputy director for management and CIO Steven VanRoekel. Deadlines for agencies to nominate SAVE Award (Securing Americans Value and Efficiency) candidates is being pushed back to Sept. 20, and agencies are being asked to identify just the top three to five money-saving ideas – down from five to 10 in years past. Additionally, agencies are being asked to package their SAVE Award ideas with their fiscal year 2015 budget submissions.
SAVE Awards reward federal employees who come up with practical ideas that save the government money, improve operations and can be easily replicated across government agencies. Agencies are required to submit a list of ideas to the director of OMB, who picks a group of finalists. The public is then invited to vote on the winning entry.
This year, agencies are being directed to avoid ideas that are similar to past finalists. The winning 2012 idea proposed making sure federal employees receiving public transit benefits are shifted to lower senior citizen fares as soon as they are eligible. In 2011, a NASA employee won with an idea to create a lending library of specialized tools, to avoid duplicate purchases.
The SAVE Award competition has generated more than 85,000 ideas since it was instituted in 2009.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jul 29, 2013 at 3:40 PM0 comments
The government's tool for re-securing a compromised iPhone.
Q: What's the government process for wiping an iPhone after a security leak?
A: Pound it with a hammer.
Managing mobile devices and their risks, instituting security measures on par with more traditional desktops and laptops, determining what tool to use when things go wrong – these are all commonly cited hurdles to BYOD in federal agencies. But there are so many others that accompany those concerns that it sometimes becomes difficult to imagine it's actually going to happen.
Of course, it's happening already, on a certain level. There are pilot programs. There are options, such as bolting $200 Common Access Card "sleds" onto the device for authentication purposes so Defense Department employees can take their smart phones to work.
But neither of those is the true BYOD policy that personnel in the digital era want: the freedom to use one familiar device to do it all, work and personal, without worries about "leakage" or having all your vacation photos smashed into oblivion.
"If you look at it from a financial standpoint, sure, it's the cost of the device," said Maj. Linus Barloon, chief of cyber operations division in the J3 directorate and cyberspace officer in the Air Force's White House Communications Agency. "But when you look at the man-hours associated with cleaning up a spill for a regular device, and now toss in a smart device – it's just easier to stay away from bring-your-own-device, issue the user one of your own devices such that you can [install] the governmental controls."
It is not just the devices, either. The data itself and the policies that govern BYOD present just as much, if not more, of a problem, officials said July 24 at MeriTalk's cybersecurity brainstorm event in Washington. The discussion there represented a snapshot of a conversation that is playing out across agencies and departments.
"There are more implications to BYOD than to cybersecurity," said Joe Johnson, managed mobility program manager at the General Services Administration. "Some of that has to do with legal, some of that has to do with employee unions – who pays for the devices, are they getting reimbursed? What are the legal implications of data that could be lost? It's a Pandora's box that I don't think anybody has really figured out yet. It's probably easier to think of BYOD from a security policy point of view than it is with the broader policy implications that extend beyond security policy itself."
Posted by Amber Corrin on Jul 26, 2013 at 1:28 PM0 comments
GSA's Dave McClure felt some heat at a hearing on IT leadership. (File photo)
Dave McClure of the General Services Administration felt some heat during a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations hearing on July 25.
Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) pummeled McClure for setting a poor example in IT decision-making for other agencies to follow.
GSA, Mica said, has only closed one data center in three years, despite having identified 115 non-core data centers ripe for closing or consolidation.
The hearing was held to discuss the status of federal IT initiatives, including the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative led by GSA and the Office of Management and Budget. Mica was on the attack.
"Then we've got McClure here, from GSA, you guys haven't set a very good example in operation," Mica said, after listening to testimony from Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel and Dave Powner of the Government Accountability Office.
McClure answered that GSA has planned to close 38 data centers by the end of fiscal 2013 and 47 by the end of fiscal 2014, but did not deny GSA had only closed one over the past three years.
However, other committee members, including Meadows, were skeptical of the ambitious numbers expected in the two months remaining in the fiscal year, given the track record.
"Where does the buck stop?" Meadows asked, staring at McClure.
McClure responded that the agency CIO "owns the issue" and the "head of the agency is ultimately responsible," noting that he is simply "the head of an office that provides tools" to get the job done. McClure is associate administrator of GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies
Meadows, staring at McClure, asked what would happen if GSA doesn't make the closure target.
"I think you should ask for an explanation," McClure said, suggesting the responsibility fall to GSA CIO Casey Coleman.
Meadows was not satisfied.
"We have a whole bunch of people that come and give testimony, but really don't have responsibility for implementing those things," Meadows said, clearly annoyed. "Hearing after hearing and nothing gets done. I think you have three core (data) centers, 115 non-core, and you've closed one in the past three years. Now we're going to ramp it up. Why is that?"
Subcommittee Ranking Member Gerry Connolly, (D-Va.) said GSA's move to close the data centers, announced after the subcommittee criticized GSA during a field conference it was invited to but didn't attend, looked like a disingenuous attempt to appease the subcommittee.
McClure responded that it "might have the appearance of that," but explained that the agency was not finished collecting data, thus its delay in publicizing planned closures.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Jul 25, 2013 at 2:45 PM1 comments
David Wennergren, DOD's assistant deputy CMO and a three-time Fed 100 winner, wraps up a 32-year federal career.
The Defense Department's assistant deputy chief management officer is retiring from government service. David Wennergren, whose 32-year federal career has centered on change management and IT for DOD and the Department of the Navy, told FCW that his final day on the job will be Aug. 2.
"I remember when I went to work for the Department of the Navy in 1980, and they told me, 'In 2012, when you turn 55.... you'd be eligible for retirement,' Wennergren said. "And that just seemed like forever. And the next thing you know, the decades have flown by."
"For me it was fairly simple," he explained. "It's been a great ride, I've had jobs that I'd never even dreamed I would've had, and have had some amazing adventures. But, you know, I've sorta climbed the mountains that there were for me to climb here, and I became eligible for retirement. So then it was just a question of timing."
Wennergren is a three-time Federal 100 winner, was honored with FCW's Eagle award in 2006, and has since served as a Fed 100 judge on several occasions. He has won a raft of honors from other organizations in the federal IT community, and has earned repeated commendation from DOD for distinguished and meritorious service. He was also the longest-serving vice-chairman of the Federal CIO council.
Wennergren declined to discuss his next career steps until he officially leaves government service. "I'm going to take some time off, and then plan the next adventure," he said. "I'm trying desperately to get through and close out my federal career before we do the next steps."
That time off leaves a significant gap to fill at DOD, but Wennergren said he was confident in his colleagues' ability to step up.
"I've taken pride over the years of having thought a lot about succession planning and stuff," he said. "At the Department of the Navy, we had a fabulous succession plan in place -- we grew people inside that organization. Dan Porter was the CIO -- he left, I fleeted up to become the CIO. When I left, Rob Carey fleeted up to take my place; I think that kind of stuff is important."
"We've got a good crew here," Wennergren said of the office of the deputy chief management officer, "and there's a growing base of business transformation-savvy people across the Department of Defense. But that will fall to my boss, [Deputy CMO] Beth McGrath, decide what she wants to do now that I'm gone."
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jul 23, 2013 at 8:27 AM1 comments
Jessica Wright, nominated to lead DOD personnel and readiness, spent 35 years in the National Guard.
The Senate's deal to avoid filibusters on nominations may or may not hold, but the White House continues to fill up the pipeline with new appointees.
President Barack Obama on July 19 announced eight more individuals that he intends to nominate to agency or diplomatic posts. Among them are Scott S. Dahl, whom Obama tapped to be the Labor Department's inspector general, and Jessica Garfola Wright, who would become the Defense Department's under secretary for personnel and readiness.
Wright, who spend 35 years in the National Guard and retired as a major general, has been filling the under secretary position in an acting capacity since Jan. 1. Dahl is currently the IG for the Smithsonian Institution. His nomination would fill an important major-agency IG vacancy, but also creates yet another IG opening for the administration to address.
Posted by FCW Staff on Jul 19, 2013 at 8:47 AM0 comments
Posted by FCW Staff on Jul 18, 2013 at 6:07 AM1 comments
Bill Sisk, the new FAS deputy commissioner, has held the position in an acting capacity since last year. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee photo)
Bill Sisk, GSA’s acting federal acquisition service deputy commissioner, has been named the service’s deputy commissioner, the agency confirmed on July 16.
Sisk became acting deputy commissioner in November 2012, taking the position after the previous deputy commissioner, Jon Jordan, retired. Sisk had previously served as the assistant commissioner for FAS’ Office of General Supplies and Services.
Sisk has been at the agency for 23 years, beginning as an intern, working his way up to become the FAS Southeast Sunbelt Region commissioner and the acting Public Buildings Service Southeast Sunbelt Region Commissioner, according to the agency.
FAS has seen a few new faces in the last six months. Tom Sharpe, the current FAS commissioner, came from the Treasury Department in January.
Former FAS commissioner Steve Kempf moved on last fall. Mary Davie, GSA's assistant commissioner for the Office of Integrated Technology Services, served as acting FAS commissioner until Sharpe was named.
Posted by Mark Rockwell on Jul 16, 2013 at 3:00 PM0 comments
Richard Spires resigned in May as DHS CIO. (File photo)
AFCEA's Bethesda Chapter has organized an appreciation event for former Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires, who resigned on May 7, for his years of leadership and government service.
The event, which Spires will attend, is scheduled for Monday, July 29, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. (Click here to register.)
Spires, who won FCW's Eagle Award this spring, was on leave for two months prior to submitting his resignation, and news of a well-respected federal official in apparent turmoil caused considerable confusion in the federal IT community and led to lots of speculation about the cause.
Many details of Spires' departure remain unclear, but he experienced considerable success over eight years of federal service – four years at the IT helm of DHS, and prior to that four years at the Internal Revenue Service.
"I was surprised and grateful that the federal IT industry would want to recognize me for the work I did at DHS and over the past eight years with the IRS and serving the federal IT community at large," Spires told FCW. "It's very nice."
Spires is still assessing his future, but said he has taken to consulting – on his own, not for a company – in the interim.
"I'm going to consult for a while and I'm definitely using this as a transition time to assess what I want to do next," Spires said. "Consulting is one of those options, and I'm also going to look at full-time opportunities."
Posted by Frank Konkel on Jul 15, 2013 at 2:05 PM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Jul 15, 2013 at 6:00 AM0 comments
DHS secretary Janet Napolitano is about to take the helm at the University of California system. (File photo)
Janet Napolitano announced on July 12 that she is resigning the top spot at the Department of Homeland Security to take of the post of president of the University of California system.
Napolitano, who has served as governor of Arizona and a U.S. Attorney, will be the first woman ever to lead the University of California system. The University of California search was led by former movie industry executive Sherry Lansing. In a statement, Lansing said, "While some may consider her to be an unconventional choice, Secretary Napolitano is without a doubt the right person at the right time to lead this incredible university."
President Obama released a statement thanking Napolitano for her service at DHS. "Janet’s portfolio has included some of the toughest challenges facing our country. She’s worked around the clock to respond to natural disasters, from the Joplin tornado to Hurricane Sandy, helping Americans recover and rebuild. Since day one, Janet has led my administration’s effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values," Obama said.
Napolitano will take start her new job sometime in September, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jul 12, 2013 at 8:49 AM0 comments
Hey, agency cybersecurity experts -- do you have a proven track record for "directing IT modernization efforts, formulating short and long-range strategic direction, and developing technology policies?" Would you like to be the Internal Revenue Service's next director of cybersecurity operations, earn as much as the vice president, and deliver world-class security for critical IRS systems?
Too bad. Federal employees are not eligible to apply.
The IRS has designated this a "streamlined critical pay position" -- a special category that the agency may apply to up to 40 positions at any one time, in order to fill posts that "require expertise of an extremely high level" and "are critical to the Internal Revenue Service’s successful accomplishment of an important mission."
Special recruiting efforts and higher salaries can be used in such cases, where the agency has determined that no qualified federal employees are available -- and where a standard General Schedule or Senior Executive Service job is unlikely to attract top talent from outside government. As a result, however, feds -- and many former IRS employees -- are eliminated from the start.
There are similar exceptions allowed governmentwide; the Office of Personnel Management can designate up to 800 jobs for "critical position pay." The IRS, however, has its own statutory authority.
And for any private-sector cyber executives who might be interested: it may already be too late. While the IRS advertised the position in the Wall Street Journal as recently as July 8, a recruiter told FCW the agency is no longer actively seeking more applicants.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jul 11, 2013 at 1:38 PM0 comments
Jonathan McBride, shown here during a 2012 appearance on C-SPAN, will take over as Director of Presidential Personnel.
The White House announced on July 9 that Director of Presidential Personnel Nancy Hogan will be leaving by the end of the month, and will be replaced by Jonathan McBride. McBride currently serves as the Office of Presidential Personnel's deputy director, and is a deputy assistant to the president. A Wharton Business School graduate and former chief strategy for the "employer branding" firm Universum, McBride has been with the administration since 2009.
The Office of Presidential Personnel plays a critical role for agency hiring: Its staff must review and approve all "Schedule C" hires -- political appointments that involve shaping policy or working very closely with key political officials. There are roughly 1,400 such jobs scattered across the executive branch.
"I’m grateful to Nancy for her service, and to Jonathan McBride for agreeing to take her place," President Obama said in the statement announcing the change. "Jonathan has the judgment and the experience to help us continue to move this country forward, and I look forward to working with him in his new role."
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jul 09, 2013 at 12:28 PM0 comments
Pat Schambach, who served more than three decades in the government, is retiring from CSC.
Pat Schambach, the longtime agency CIO who is now a vice president and general manager for federal IT contractor CSC, told colleagues on July 2 that he is leaving the firm. Schambach's retirement will become official at the end of August.
"People have often asked me if I missed working for the government," Schambach wrote in an email that was shared with FCW, "and my standard answer has been that all I really miss are the people! Now I'll be saying the same thing about what I miss about CSC."
Schambach, who won FCW's Eagle Award in 2003, spent more than three decades in government service before moving to the private sector; he was the Transportation Security Administration's first CIO, and served in that same capacity for the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. After leaving government in 2004, Schambach spent four years with Nortel Government Solutions. He has been with CSC since 2008.
No word yet on Schambach's future plans.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jul 03, 2013 at 8:58 AM0 comments
The deadline is fast approaching for 2013 Rising Star nominations. The best up-and-comers in the federal IT community deserve to be recognized, but all nominations must be in by midnight on Monday, July 15.
Much like the Federal 100 awards, FCW's Rising Star awards recognizes individuals who go above and beyond their official job descriptions. By focusing on those in the first 10 years of their federal IT careers, however, the judges look for nominees who not only make a real impact, but also have clear potential to grow into positions of greater responsibility in their organizations and in the community at large.
Curious to see who's made the grade in the past? Check out the profiles of last year's winners -- and then be sure to nominate your organization's rising stars while there is still time!
Click here to nominate a rising star.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jul 01, 2013 at 10:53 AM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Jun 28, 2013 at 5:53 AM0 comments
Amazon’s contract to build a private cloud for the CIA is on hold while the agency sorts through the ramifications of a successful bid protest from IBM, which said it could build the cloud for less.
But Amazon is already storing CIA documents -- just not necessarily those the agency would like.
For instance, the New York Times reported on June 26 that four CIA agents were embedded in the New York Police Department in the decade following 9/11, and that one such agent may have spied on U.S. citizens. The article is based on a recently declassified executive summary of a CIA Inspector General’s report from December 2011, which the Times helpfully posted online.
And as the URL makes clear, that document is residing on an Amazon Web Services cloud server.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:47 PM1 comments
Vacancies and staff turnover are seemingly a fact of life for today's agency IT executives. And for senior positions, the hiring hoops can take many forms.
Posted by FCW Staff on Jun 26, 2013 at 7:55 AM0 comments
Larry Sweet, NASA's new CIO, takes office as the agency is under IG pressure to improve its IT management.
Larry Sweet, a NASA veteran who began his career at the space agency in 1987, will officially take the reins as the agency's CIO on June 30.
Sweet replaces Linda Cureton, who retired in April. NASA's associate deputy administrator Richard Keegan has been acting CIO since Cureton's departure. Sweet has served as the Johnson Space Center's CIO and information resources director since 2007.
Sweet will be responsible for ensuring NASA's information assets are in line with federal policies, procedures and legislation, and he'll also manage several major IT efforts. The most important of those efforts is likely the IT Infrastructure Integration Program (I3P), which will consolidate and integrate NASA's IT contracts to increase collaboration and reduce costs at the agency.
Perhaps more important moving forward, though, is that Sweet will be installed at the same time the agency is supposed to improve IT governance, enhance CIO authority and make fixes to other IT problems that have dogged the agency for decades, according to a June report by NASA's Office of Inspector General.
NASA's decentralized IT operations "hinder the agency's ability to implement effective IT governance," leaving the agency CIO with limited visibility or control over IT investments and unable to enforce security measures across all NASA computers, the IG reported. Of the $1.46 billion allocated for IT in fiscal 2012, the agency CIO had direct control of only $159 million, or about 11 percent.
In 2010, decentralized IT operations and limited CIO control actually caused NASA to overspend on its fiscal 2010 IT budget by $400 million, highlighting the seriousness of the problem.
NASA administrator Charles Bolden concurred or partially concurred with all eight OIG recommendations stemming from the report. They include requiring the CIO to approve all IT procurement expenditures over an established threshold and consolidating overall IT governance within OCIO. All recommendations were due to be addressed within one year.
In his response, presumably written before NASA had selected Sweet for the job, Bolden wrote that NASA would look for candidates who had demonstrated strong governance in their careers to take on these new challenges. Based on Bolden's other statements in response to the OIG criticism, it seems Sweet will have no shortage of work to do when he begins. "I will ask the new CIO to conduct a comprehensive assessment of existing NASA IT governance and the IT organization and recommend any necessary improvements to address the findings in this report," Bolden said.
Sweet and NASA are at least one step ahead of several other agencies, however: the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Personnel Management, Social Security Administration and Departments of Veteran Affairs, Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development are all still searching for their next permanent CIO.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Jun 25, 2013 at 2:00 PM0 comments
President Obama has nominated former OPM leader John Berry to be ambassador to the land down under. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee photo).
President Obama announced the nomination of John Berry for the post of ambassador to Australia on June 21.
Berry headed the Office of Personnel Management from April 2009 to April 2013. At OPM, Berry will be remembered for working to extend health benefits to the domestic partners of lesbian and gay federal employees where allowable by law, advocating raises for federal employees, pioneering telework and working to reduce the backlog of processing retirement claims while speeding hiring times for federal employees.
Before joining OPM, Berry was the director of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., from 2005 to 2009, and was executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation before that. He also served as a legislative aide to Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
Obamam included Berry’s nomination in a group of senior appointments. “These men and women have demonstrated knowledge and dedication throughout their careers. I am grateful they have chosen to take on these important roles, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come,” Obama said in a statement.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jun 21, 2013 at 3:24 PM0 comments
Janet Foutty, formerly managing director of technology at Deloitte Consulting, is taking over as federal consulting leader. (Photo courtesy of Deloitte)
Deloitte Consulting LLP has appointed Janet Foutty as its new federal consulting leader.
Foutty, who previously served as Deloitte’s managing director of technology, will succeed John Gibbons. Gibbons will serve as a strategic advisor during the transition.
Under Foutty’s two-decade tenure with Deloitte, she successfully launched three businesses in its technology service area: Application Management Services, Customer Solutions and Deloitte Digital. She also helped oversee Deloitte’s acquisition of mobile agency Ubermind in 2012.
"Janet has a tremendous track record of helping improve client results in technology services and financial services,” said Robin Lineberger, CEO of Deloitte Federal Government Services, in a written statement.
“Her leadership and experience will be a great asset to federal agencies as they look for innovative technology solutions to achieve their mission."
Posted by Natalie Lauri on Jun 20, 2013 at 2:35 PM0 comments
Posted by FCW Staff on Jun 18, 2013 at 8:59 AM1 comments
Editor's note: This item was modified after its publication to add text from Jackson's email to colleagues and to update other information.
The man behind the Environmental Protection Agency's move to cloud-based email and centralized IT hardware procurement is heading back to the private sector.
EPA Chief Information Officer and Assistant Administrator in the Office of Environmental Information Malcolm Jackson is leaving the agency after three years of service for a job with an unnamed company, an EPA spokesperson confirmed.
Jackson was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2010. His last day will be July 7, according to an email Jackson sent to colleagues.
"I have enjoyed every moment at EPA immensely and have been so impressed by the passion that you have for your jobs and the agency’s mission," Jackson wrote in that email message. "We have made some great changes together to strengthen OEI and the technology direction of EPA. I hope that you will keep the momentum going and fill the technology gap while ensuring security and quality."
Jackson's departure means EPA joins six other major agencies searching for a permanent CIO, including NASA, the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security. It is not yet clear who will step in as EPA's acting CIO, because the agency does not have a permanent deputy CIO. Acting Deputy CIO Renee Wynn, a 21-year agency veteran, will step in as acting CIO.
At EPA, Jackson was responsible for IT operations and security, information quality and collection and access to environmental information. Prior to his three years at EPA, he served as the senior IT business unit director at CIGNA Group Insurance and at various other IT and engineering positions in the private sector.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Jun 18, 2013 at 1:27 PM1 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Jun 17, 2013 at 5:58 AM0 comments
Douglas Rushkoff says that 'present shock' is caused by the interconnectivity of social media and other technology. (Photo by New America Foundation)
There are privacy and national-security considerations in the debate over the National Security Agency's digital surveillance. But according to author and digital literacy advocate Douglas Rushkoff, the NSA flap is also case of an agency biting off more than it can chew.
Speaking June 11 at the New America Foundation, Rushkoff said, "In terms of total surveillance control and all that, it's dark. I mean, I think what happened to government now is government's in 'present shock.' Government says 'look, Facebook has all this big data, they can predict when someone's going to get pregnant.'... So they end up employing the technology automatically. "
The NSA is not alone in using technology while lacking a full understanding of it, and without the ability to utilize it efficiently, Rushkoff said.
His new book, "Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now", argues that priorities of the moment dominate most people's lives because of the interconnectivity of current technology. In order to curb this "present shock," society must invest in future priorities and stop being chronically distracted by technology such as social media. (The book's title is an apparent play on "Future Shock," the 1970 bestseller by futurist Alvin Toffler.)
"We are twice removed from the operating system," Rushkoff said. "We're once removed in that we don't understand the technology, and then we're twice removed in that we think that the institutional bias can't be changed."
Posted by Reid Davenport on Jun 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM1 comments
GSA Chief Acquisition Officer Anne Rung will replace Kathleen Turco as head of Office of Governmentwide Policy.
The General Services Administration has a new leader for its Office of Governmentwide Policy. GSA acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini announced in an all-staff email that Anne Rung would replace Kathleen Turco. Effective June 16, Turco will become the Veterans Health Administration's chief financial officer.
Rung, who won a Federal 100 award for her accomplishments at the Commerce Department, had been GSA's chief acquisition officer since April 2012. Federal News Radio first reported Tangherlini's announcement about her new role, which will be in addition to her duties as CAO for the agency.
Posted by FCW Staff on Jun 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
The stories keep coming about the National Security Agency gathering digital metadata on a massive scale, focusing most Americans on the balancing act between privacy and national security. Agency IT leaders, however, could be forgiven for also asking, "How do they organize all that data?"
As luck would have it, NSA Technical Director Neal Ziring went into some detail on that very question in a recent webinar.
In a May 30 presentation produced by 1105 Government Events (which is owned by the same parent company as FCW), Ziring outlined the NSA's approach to data security. "We are well past the model where you say 'everyone who can log on on this computer can gain access to all the data, all the information that's stored on that computer or on that cloud or in that data center,'" he said. "We need to think about controlling that more tightly."
Ziring said the agency's "smart data" approach improves access for authorized users, provides better control over access by "non-person entities," supports analytics across multiple repositories, and helps to spot "anomalies and abuse." The NSA's strategy and architecture -- which stresses data provenance and careful tagging, he said, can apply to "a lot of other government organizations, in industry and in academia as well."
The full webinar is available for online viewing (free registration required) on the FOSE website.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jun 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
NSA's slides leave a lot to be desired, according to at least one designer. (FCW graphic)
According to one presentation deck making the rounds, the National Security Agency's biggest transgression is not its massive data-gathering efforts. It's the painful aesthetics of its PowerPoint slides describing the Prism program.
In a presentation posted to Slideshare, Paris-based designer Emiland De Cubber wrote: "Dear NSA, you can do whatever you want with my data. But not with my eyes. Those slides are hideous."
De Cubber goes on to recreate several of the now-famous slides with significantly more polish. Check out the full presentation below:
The IBM Center for the Business of Government on June 10 released a how-to guide
for agencies seeking to better visualize data. Perhaps the NSA staffers can read and then revise.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jun 12, 2013 at 8:58 PM0 comments
Edward Snowden, the contractor employee who exposed the National Security Administration's PRISM program. (Photo by The Guardian newspaper.)
Edward Snowden is not yet charged with a crime, but petitioners are already clamoring for his pardon. A June 9 petition for the White House to "Pardon Edward Snowden" -- the 29-year-old Booz Allen Hamilton contractor who has revealed himself as the source of leaked National Security Agency information -- had already received more than 27,000 signatures by late afternoon on June 10. Filed through the White House's "We the People" system, it needs to receive 100,000 signatures by July 9 to merit an official White House response.
The petition reads:
"Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a [sic] full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs."
Snowden, who is reportedly in Hong Kong, has not been charged with a crime, though it appears only a matter of time before that happens, as publicly disclosing national security information violates federal law. Direction of National Intelligence James Clapper called the revelations regarding a government program called PRISM that gathers intelligence information from electronic communication service providers "reprehensible" and "reckless."
Through interviews with and released by The Guardian, it appears Snowden is accepting of his fate.
"I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions," but "I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant," Snowden told The Guardian.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Jun 10, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Agencies often have a hard time competing with private-sector employers for top-notch IT talent, but this job might hold special appeal for the open-data crowd: The Data.gov team is hiring its own developer.
This GS-14 "IT specialist (applications software)" will join the small crew of dataphiles in the General Services Administration's Office of Citizens Services and Innovative Technologies, where he or she will serve as an in-house software engineer, collaborate with outside developers, and serve as web architect for Data.gov.
The technical underpinnings of Data.gov, which launched in May 2009, have been largely built by contractors, but GSA has now decided to bring some coding capacity onto the permanent staff.
"We get a lot of really great ideas from a lot of different places," Data.gov Program Director Marion A. Royal told FCW. "We need a technologist on board to help us prioritize... which should we seek immediately, and which should we invest in for the future."
Details of the job are posted on USAJobs.com. But would-be applicants had better hurry -- the application window closes on June 11.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jun 07, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Jun 03, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
A certain slice of the tech community was abuzz on May 30 when Code for America founder Jennifer Pahlka announced she was coming to Washington to work with U.S. CTO Todd Park as Deputy CTO for Government Innovation. For many agency IT professionals, however, Pahlka -- whose non-profit is based in San Francisco and focused on local, not federal, government -- is a little-known commodity.
For anyone wondering what makes Pahlka tick, her 2012 TED talk on "coding a better government" is a good place to start:
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Jun 03, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
General Services Administration official Kathleen Turco is leaving her post to become the CFO at the Veterans Health Administration at Veterans Affairs.
Before becoming the associate administrator of the Office of Governmentwide Policy for GSA in 2010, Turco served for nearly a decade as the agency's CFO.
"It was a difficult decision but I wanted to move back in to CFO work and this position allows me that opportunity plus serving our veterans," Turco said in an email to OGP staff that was shared with FCW.
Turco’s resume also includes stints at the Internal Revenue Service and the Office of Management and Budget. She will start her new post on June 16, according to her email.
Posted by Reid Davenport on May 31, 2013 at 12:10 PM1 comments
Jennifer Pahlka, shown here in 2010, will run the Presidential Innovation Fellows program in her new role as deputy federal CTO. (Flickr/Wikimedia Commons photo by Kevin Shockey)
Jennifer Pahlka, the founder of Code for America, will take up the role of deputy federal chief technology officer and run the Presidential Innovation Fellows program.
Code for America is a non-profit that gives year-long fellowships to developers, technologists and others who want to work on applying a high-tech, streamlined approach to government services. In a May 30 blog post, Pahlka said she's thinking of the appointment as a fellowship of her own, taking the post at the Office of Science and Technology Policy for a year, before returning to run Code for America.
She'll report to federal chief technology officer Todd Park in her new job. "Todd has proven without a doubt that the federal government can operate on lean startup principles and timeframes, that data creates value, and that there is a network of amazing people already changing the culture of government," she wrote in her blog post.
Before founding Code For America, Pahlka worked at CMP Media, and ran the Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0 events for TechWeb.
A spokesperson for OSTP confirmed the news in an e-mail, saying, "Jen will be working with CTO Todd Park to move the Administration's tech innovation agenda forward, including working with the Presidential Innovation Fellows, and we are excited about her pending arrival!"
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on May 30, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Shelley Metzenbaum will head the Volcker Alliance, a new think-tank aimed at rebuilding the public trust. (File photo)
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker appointed Shelley Metzenbaum, a former official at the Office of Management and Budget, to lead his newly formed nonpartisan think-tank that takes aim at restoring public trust in the government. Metzenbaum, who stepped down from OMB in April, won an FCW Federal 100 award in 2011 for her lead role on the Obama administration's performance management agenda.
Metzenbaum "brings a unique set of qualifications and experiences to this large and important task," said Volker, who served under presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. "Rebuilding public trust in our state, local and federal institutions begins with improving the administration of our policies."
Volcker appointed Metzenbaum president after announcing the formation of the Volcker Alliance.
Before serving as associate director of performance and personnel management at OMB, Metzenbaum worked at the Environmental Protection Agency, was undersecretary of environmental affairs and director of capital budgeting for Massachusetts, and served as director of a public-sector performance management program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Posted by Reid Davenport on May 30, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Lisa Jackson will head Apple's environmental efforts. (File photo)
Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson is joining Apple.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said on May 28 that Jackson, who stepped down from the EPA in February after four years with the Obama Administration, will be heading the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology company's environmental efforts. Cook made the announcement at the D11 Conference during an on-stage interview with technology journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. "She’s going to be coordinating a lot of this activity across the company," Cook said of Jackson.
Jackson waged several high-profile regulatory battles while at EPA, and also drew congressional attention for her use of "alias" e-mail accounts to conduct government business.
Apple has not yet announced when Jackson will formally start in her new role.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on May 29, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Gen. Keith Alexander has been named government technology executive of the year by the TechAmerica Foundation. (File photo)
The TechAmerica Foundation is recognizing Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency director, as its Government Technology Executive of the Year, and will honor him at next month at an awards dinner.
"Gen. Alexander's distinguished career has been dedicated to protecting our nation, and it only seems fitting that he is spearheading our defense in the newest realm of security," Shawn Osborne, TechAmerica chairman, said in the release. "He has contributed a great deal to advancing the United States' national security by prioritizing protecting cyber space and it is an honor to be able to recognize his commitment to modernizing the way our government responds to security threats but more importantly, his service to our country."
Alexander, in a released statement, praised TechAmerica as "an important partner in the fight to secure American's future in cyberspace while preserving our citizens' right to privacy." He also emphasized the need for public-private partnership in cybersecurity. The statement echoed comments Alexander made earlier this month calling for cross-agency and cross-sector collaboration, with securing critical infrastructure as top priority.
"This is a team approach – not only in government, between [the Homeland Security Department, FBI, NSA and CyberCom], but between government and industry," Alexander said May 10 at an event in McLean, Va. "Industry owns 90 percent of this space; the government has a responsibility to help defend this space. We've got to come up with a framework for how government and industry work together."
TechAmerica's 2013 Technology and Government awards dinner will be held June 20 in Washington, D.C. According to the group, this award "recognizes leaders in the federal government that use technology to advance service to Americans."
Posted by Amber Corrin on May 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
President Obama on May 23 announced nominations for the heads of two of the more data-intensive agencies in the federal government, the Commerce Department's Census Bureau and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Dr. John H. Thompson, Obama's pick to lead the Census, is a longtime veteran of the bureau going back to 1975. He has held various senior posts, including associate director for the decennial census and chief of the decennial management division. Currently, Thompson is president and CEO of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. The bureau is under pressure to lower the cost of its next decennial count of the American population, which cost $14 billion in 2010.
Environmental scientist Dr. Mark Schaefer, meanwhile, has been nominated to lead NOAA. His prior government service includes a stint in the Interior Department and in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House, both under President Clinton. Schaefer currently works as deputy executive director for environmental conflict resolution at the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on May 24, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
The president has named Katherine Archuleta to replace former OPM Director John Berry, who stepped down in April.
President Obama has tapped Katherine Archuleta to head the Office of Personnel Management, succeeding John Berry who left the agency in April.
Archuleta was national political director for the president’s reelection campaign and chief of staff at the Department of Labor. Her resume also includes stints as a senior policy advisor to the city of Denver and executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
If confirmed, she will be the first Hispanic woman to head OPM.
"Katherine brings to the Office of Personnel Management broad experience and a deep commitment to recruiting and retaining a world-class workforce for the American people. I am grateful Katherine has agreed to serve, and I look forward to working with her in the coming years," Obama said in a statement.
The nomination comes as OPM is facing criticism from some in Congress for a backlog in processing retirement claims, and as the agency deals with managing the details of federal employee furloughs under sequestration. OPM is in the midst of revising its own workforce management strategies, including testing a new data-driven system for evaluating its own human resources efforts called HRStat. Additionally, OPM is at the center of an effort to insure that there is pay equity between men and women working for the federal government.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on May 23, 2013 at 12:10 PM1 comments
David McClure won the 2013 John J. Franke award for his 'incredible track record of ... making good things happen.' (File photo)
David McClure, Associate Administrator of the General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, is the recipient of this year's John J. Franke Award from ACT-IAC. McClure accepted the award May 20 at the Management of Change Conference in Cambridge, Md.
ACT President and Nuclear Regulatory Commission CIO Darren Ash explained that the award is generally given to a government IT executive for long-term leadership and staff-development efforts. "Dave has an incredible track record of getting people together and making good things happen," Ash said.
John J. Franke, who died in 1991, was an agency executive and director of the Federal Quality Institute.
McClure accepted the award by noting that he was honored to be grouped with the previous winners, who include the Office of Management and Budget's Lisa Schlosser, former Veterans Affairs Department CIO Roger Baker, and then-Agriculture Department CIO Ira Hobbs.
McClure also took the opportunity to address rumors of "my imminent demise" -- speculation that he would soon either retire or return to the private sector. "There is still some tread left," he said.
A Federal 100 winner in 2004 and 2012, McClure has worked in the private sector as well as in government, and he urged the audience to move around rather than spend their career in a single agency. But for himself, he said, this is too exciting a time to leave government.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on May 21, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Ernest Moniz, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been confirmed as the new Secretary of Energy by a 97-0 vote in the Senate.
According to published reports, Moniz served on a blue ribbon panel studying nuclear waste issues during President Obama’s first term. And during the Clinton administration, he served as Undersecretary of the Energy Department, where his responsibilities included the department's supercomputer projects. Earlier in the Clinton administration he was associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The Senate confirmed him on May 16. As Secretary of Energy, he will succeed Steven Chu.
Posted by FCW Staff on May 17, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Posted on May 15, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on May 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
An Army enterprise information evangelist, the Commerce Department CIO and the General Services Administration’s data center consolidation director are among the winners of the Association for Federal Information Resource Management’s (AFFIRM) 2013 Leadership Awards.
Simon Szykman, CIO at the Department of Commerce, won AFFIRM’S Executive Leadership in Information Resources Management (Civilian) award, while Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, CIO of the Army, took the association’s defense award for that category.
The General Services Administration's Zach Baldwin, who directs the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, received a Special Recognition Award from the group.
AFFIRM said its annual Leadership Awards recognize individuals and groups in the federal information technology community for leading innovation in government. Winners will formally receive their awards on June 13, at an AFFIRM luncheon in Washington, DC.
Other winners include:
Leadership Award for Service to the Citizen -- Terence Milholland, CTO, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Treasury.
Leadership Award for Innovative Applications -- Mary Snavely-Dixon, director, Defense Manpower Data Center, Department of Defense.
Leadership in Service to the Government IT Community -- Rick Holgate, assistant director for science and technology, CIO, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Department of Justice.
Executive Leadership Award for Industry -- Doug Bourgeois, VP and chief cloud executive, US Public Sector, VMware.
Leadership Award in Acquisition and Procurement -- Robert Coen, acting director, NITAAC, National Institute of Health, Health and Human Services.
Leadership in Service Excellence -- Jonathan Rubin, First Fridays Usability Testing Program manager, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, GSA.
Leadership Award for Service to the Country -- Vincent Capezzuto, director, Air Traffic Systems, Program Management Organization, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation.
Leadership in Technology Innovation -- Mark Day, director, Office of Strategic Programs, Federal Acquisition Service, General Services Administration.
Leadership in Health Information Technology -- Tony Trenkle, CIO, director of the Office of Information Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Health and Human Services.
Leadership in Cyber Security -- Mike Robertson, director, OCIO Cyber Support Division, Energy Information Technology Services, Department of Energy.
Posted by Mark Rockwell on May 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Brian Deese is slated to become OMB deputy director. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Brian Deese, slated to serve as deputy director on the budget side of the Office of Management and Budget, faced a friendly confirmation hearing, with no Republican members of the Senate Homeland Security and Oversight Committee on hand to ask tough questions.
Deese, 35, has served the Obama administration in a variety of economic policy roles, most notably as a leader on the government task force that restructured and revived U.S. automakers General Motors and Chrysler. If confirmed, Deese will replace Heather Higginbottom, who left OMB to take a senior post in the State Department in February.
The hearing mostly focused on high level taxation and budget reform issues, but Deese indicated an interest in issues of government efficiency such as improper payments and improving the management of the federal real estate portfolio that are near and dear to Committee chairman Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.)
The OMB leadership for President Obama's second term is starting to take shape, with the recent confirmation of director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the nomination of Deese to head the budget side, and the nomination of Georgetown law professor Howard Shelanski to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The president has yet to name a replacement for Jeffrey Zients, who recently resigned as acting director and head of the management side of OMB.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on May 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Jennifer Kerber comes to the Government Transformation Initiative after gaining experience at the TechAmerica Foundation.
Jennifer Kerber is the new executive director of the Government Transformation Initiative, the group has announced. She will lead the non-profit coalition as it works to improve the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the federal government.
Kerber's work will ultimately lead to the creation of a Government Transformation Commission or Task Force, said David Walker, GTI board chair and former U.S. Comptroller General.
"Jennifer Kerber’s proven track record for fostering public and private sector collaboration and dialogue will be an asset to the GTI effort," Walker said. "We are confident that her experience on the Hill coupled with her passion for improving the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of government will make a positive difference in our efforts. We are delighted to add her to our team."
Kerber previously served as president of the TechAmerica Foundation.
Posted by Michael Hardy on May 08, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
The Partnership for Public Service's Service to America awards honor achievement in various aspects of federal service. (Stock image)
Several federal technology professionals, including some past Federal 100 winners, are on the list of finalists for 2013 Service to America medals.
The Partnership for Public Service bestows the annual awards, named in honor of its late founder, Samuel J. Heyman.
Among the tech heavy-hitters on the short list, all in the category of Citizen Services:
Dave Broomell, a project manager for the Social Security Administration's Chicago Region, who developed several technological innovations to improve Social Security’s customer service and employee efficiency.
Martha Dorris, deputy associate administrator of the General Services Administration and head of its Office of Citizen Services, for using web portals, social media, crowdsourcing tools and a search engine to deliver information on federal programs and services and to get the public engaged. Dorris is a multiple Fed 100 winner.
Terence V. Milholland, the IRS's CIO and CTO, for overhauling the service's IT and tax processing systems. Milholland has also won the Fed 100.
To see the complete list of finalists and more detailed bios of each, click here.
Posted by FCW Staff on May 06, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
The Brambleton Golf Course in Ashburn, Va., is one of three Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority courses where furloughed federal employees can get a discount. (Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority photo)
One would have to look long and hard to find any sort of upside for federal workers facing furloughs this summer, but the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority is at least trying to provide a silver lining for feds who golf.
As of May 1, federal employees will get a discount of roughly 30 percent on a round of golf at any of NVRPA's three courses, Mondays through Thursdays after 10 a.m.
"It is very unfortunate" that feds are bearing the brunt of the sequester, NVRPA Chairman Brian Napp said in announcing the offer. "In a small way, we wish to thank them for their contributions to our local communities and the nation."
Golfers need only to show a federal I.D. to get the special price; proof of furlough is not required. But no self-respecting fed would golf on the clock while colleagues are sitting at home with no pay -- so be sure to schedule leave accordingly!
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on May 03, 2013 at 12:10 PM3 comments
Dawn Meyerriecks is leaving her post at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for a tech-related position with the Central Intelligence Agency's Directorate of Science and Technology team.
Wired first reported Meyerriecks' move on April 30, with the current Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Acquisition, Technology & Facilities expected to begin her new position as CIA's deputy director for science and technology shortly.
Meyerriecks has held a variety of tech-related positions over the past decade, including from 2004 to 2006 as AOL's Senior VP for product technology, where she was responsible for developing a slew of consumer-facing products, including the relaunch of AOL Instant Messenger, aol.com and Messenger's open-client platform.
She also spent a decade at Defense Information Systems Agency as chief technology officer of its Joint Interoperability and Engineering Organization and worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a senior engineer prior to her time at DISA. Meyerriecks was a judge for FCW's most recent Federal 100 awards. She is a past Fed 100 winner herself, and was GCN's Defense Executive of the Year in 2004.
“The CIA is pleased to have Dawn’s experience and expertise on the senior leadership team," said CIA spokesman Preston Golson. "Director [John] Brennan is proud that officers of the CIA’s DS&T are proven innovators, and is confident Dawn will add to this tradition of excellence.”
In a statement, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said "filling Dawn's shoes will be no easy task."
"Dawn has done truly incredible work at ODNI and leaves a legacy of aligning and integrating the acquisition, S&T research and facilities communities across the entire IC," Clapper said. "She focused the workforces of these very different disciplines on their common mission of integrating technology into operations. I know she will be a terrific addition to the CIA Directorate of Science and Technology team." Clapper added that ODNI has a strong team and personnel ready to continue ongoing projects.
Meyerriecks will be replaced by Kevin Meiners, who previously served the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.
"The continued ascent of acquisition and technology in the IC is due in no small part to Dawn's vision and leadership, and she leaves a strong ODNI team in place to continue her work," Clapper said.
Posted by Frank Konkel on May 01, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
President Obama will appoint former cable and mobile carrier industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler to head the Federal Communications Commission, according to multiple press reports. The news comes as no surprise -- Wheeler was considered the leading candidate for the post by telecom policy observers, even before the current occupant of the post, Julius Genachowski, announced his resignation.
Wheeler, former head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the mobile group CTIA, was an early backer of the presidential aspirations of then-Sen. Obama. During the transition, Wheeler led the administration's transition efforts to staff the technology, science, space and arts agencies. He currently advises the administration on policy as part of the Intelligence Advisory Board. Wheeler is a managing director with the venture capital group Core Capital partners.
A White House official told The Hill, "Tom Wheeler is an experienced leader in the communications technology field who shares the President's commitment to protecting consumers, promoting innovation, enhancing competition and encouraging investment."
As a former trade association head, Wheeler faces critics in the advocacy community. "The Federal Communications Commission needs a strong leader — someone who will use this powerful position to stand up to industry giants and protect the public interest. On paper, Tom Wheeler does not appear to be that person, having headed not one but two major trade associations. But he now has the opportunity to prove his critics wrong, clean up the mess left by his predecessor, and be the public servant we so badly need at the FCC," Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron said in a statement.
Wheeler could also face a testy Senate confirmation. Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and 36 other Senate Democrats sent a letter to Obama in March urging the elevation of FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel – a former committee counsel -- to the chairmanship.
Note: Wheeler also co-founded and is currently chairman of the news service SmartBrief, where FCW staff writer Adam Mazmanian previously worked as an editor.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Apr 30, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
The Air Force got a new under secretary on April 29, but will have less than two months before facing a bigger vacancy as the service's longtime secretary retires.
Air Force Secretary Michael Donley plans to step down from public service June 21, after nearly five years in the position. Before that, he served as acting secretary for four months, and also filled in during a seven-month stint in 1993 – making him the longest-serving Secretary of the Air Force in the service's history.
In an April 26 statement, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel praised Donley's leadership and dedication.
"Mike has been an invaluable adviser during my first two months as Secretary of Defense and has been an outstanding leader of the Air Force for nearly five years," Hagel said. "His leadership came during a challenging time for the Air Force, and he helped instill a culture of responsibility, initiative, and professionalism to the service. Mike has been an unwavering champion for our airmen, their families, and for American airpower."
Prior to his Air Force post, Donley worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as the director of administration and management, overseeing Pentagon organizational and management planning for the Pentagon and all of its administration, facility, IT and security matters, his bio states. Prior to that, he jumped between the private sector, a think tank position and other roles within DOD.
There is no word on Donley's post-Air Force plans. However, AOL Defense reports that he may be succeeded as secretary by Debbie Lee James, executive vice president for communications and government affairs at SAIC. James is a former professional staff member at the House Armed Services Committee and a former assistant defense secretary under President Bill Clinton.
The announcement of Donley's departure came just before the swearing-in of Eric Fanning as Air Force under secretary.
Fanning previously served as the Navy's deputy under secretary and deputy chief management officer. He fills a second-in-command post that has been vacant since last June, when Erin Conaton was appointed as under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness. Dr. Jamie Morin has been filling in during the interim.
"I come from a family with a long history of service in uniform -- two uncles graduated from West Point and made careers in the Army, another uncle served a career in the Air Force, a cousin flew helicopters in the Marine Corps," Fanning said during his February confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "I learned from an early age the importance of service and developed early on a deep respect and admiration for those who serve in uniform."
According to the Air Force News Service, Donley praised Fanning's background in national security as well as his congressional experience.
Outside of the Pentagon, meanwhile, Fanning is being celebrated for a different reason: as DOD's highest-ranking openly gay official.
The Human Rights Council and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, where Fanning reportedly is a former board member, were among numerous websites and blogs that posted news of the appointment. Fanning's appointment comes more than a year and a half after the official repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Apr 29, 2013 at 12:10 PM1 comments
Shelley Metzenbaum (file photo)
Shelley Metzenbaum, associate director of performance and personnel management at the Office of Management and Budget, is leaving the position, Federal News Radio reports.
Industry sources say Metzenbaum is returning to Boston. OMB has not confirmed the report.
Metzenbaum won FCW's Federal 100 award in 2011 for her lead role on the Obama administration’s performance management agenda.
Posted by FCW Staff on Apr 24, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
There will (we're pretty sure) be no 'Reservoir Dogs' tactics when Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) holds a hearing at this vacant warehouse in southeast D.C., but witnesses can expect some tough questions. (Photo: Google Maps Street View)
Say you're a federal employee and the chairman of a key oversight subcommittee asks to meet you in a vacant warehouse near the Anacostia River so he can ask you a few questions. It sounds scary, but it’s not a hypothetical.
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the Government Operations subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform committee has summoned a panel of witnesses, including General Services Administration deputy commissioner Michael Gelber, to an empty storage building about halfway between an elevated highway and Nationals Park for an April 25 hearing on wasted federal properties.
The warehouse at 49 L St. SE in Washington, D.C. costs the government $70,000 per year, according to the hearing notice, yet it has stood empty since September 2009. Mica, who has oversight authority over a wide range of federal IT issues but has always had a special interest in agency real estate, plans to use this capacious and conspicuously empty stage to make a larger point – that taxpayers are ponying up an estimated $1.67 billion to maintain vacant or underused federal real estate.
The Government Accountability Office has rated the government’s federal real estate operations as "high risk," in part because the government lacks data about its real estate portfolio to guide its management practices. The GAO’s David Wise will testify at the hearing, along with Tommy Wells, a Washington D.C. city council member and likely mayoral candidate and Ed Kaminski, an area resident who sits on a neighborhood advisory council.
Warehouse concerns won't keep technology issues off the agenda for long, however. Back in March, Mica told FCW that he expects to take a look at the government’s data center consolidation efforts and other federal IT issues in the coming months.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Apr 24, 2013 at 12:10 PM2 comments
Better broadband just might be coming to a middle seat near you.
Julius Genachowski is preparing to exit the top spot at the Federal Communications Commission, and it looks like he’s planning on going out with a crowd-pleasing finale. Gadget junkies rejoice – the FCC is looking at a new rule to expand broadband access for airline passengers in flight.
Right now, airlines can offer Internet connections through satellite services to passengers – sometimes charging for the privilege. The FCC is looking at dedicating a swath of radio spectrum in the 14.0-14.5 gigahertz band for an “Air-Ground Mobile Broadband service.” The spectrum is currently used by amateur radio operators.
Genachowski has long been critical of restrictions governing the use of electronic devices including tablets and e-readers in flights during takeoff and landing. Last year he urged the Federal Aviation Administration to change its policies on devices in a letter to agency head Michael Huerta.
Now the FCC is poised to allow the deployment of in-flight broadband, pending a new rulemaking, which will kick off at the agency’s May 9 open meeting. The notice of proposed rulemaking would be followed by a lot of technical discussion among industry stakeholders. If the FCC votes to approve the spectrum allocation, a spectrum auction would follow before the launch of a commercial service. Assuming such an offering does get off the ground, it could provide connection speeds comparable to home broadband. Chinese firm ZTE recently announced the successful test of such a system, with speeds in excess of 12 megabits per second.
Admittedly, this is not a federal IT issue per se -- agency-controlled sprectrum is being eyed for different uses entirely -- but what computer-toting traveller isn't interested in airborn broadband?
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Apr 19, 2013 at 12:10 PM1 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Apr 18, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
An artist's rendering of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal, which was to cover cyber warfare, among other pursuits. (DOD image)
Cyber warriors won't be getting their own medal after all.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on April 15 that the Distinguished Warfare Medal, which former secretary Leon Panetta had unveiled just three months earlier, would be scrapped. The medal had been intended to honor cyber personnel, drone pilots and others who do not enter direct physical combat for "extraordinary achievement, not involving acts of valor, directly impacting combat operations or other military operations."
The new honor's precedence ahead of the such combat awards as the Purple Heart and Bronze Star prompted complaints, and the Pentagon on March 12 suspended production of the new medal pending a 30-day review led by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"While the review confirmed the need to ensure such recognition," Hagel said, "it found that misconceptions regarding the precedence of the award were distracting from its original purpose."
The new plan is to create "a new distinguishing device that can be affixed to existing medals to recognize the extraordinary actions" of cyber personnel and others who would have been eligible for the Distinguished Warfare Medal, Hagel said. "I agree with the Joint Chiefs’ findings, and have directed the creation of a distinguishing device instead of a separate medal."
New criteria and other details regarding the "distinguishing device" are to be submitted to Hagel for final approval within 90 days.
Posted by FCW Staff on Apr 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zients is reminding agencies not to engage with Congress without first getting OMB clearance.
Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeffrey Zients sent agencies a simple yet stern reminder on April 15: If you want to talk to Congress, talk to OMB first -- and do it fast.
The memo states that "the operational challenges posed by sequestration" make "enhanced levels of communication and cooperation between agencies and OMB" especially important, and urges officials to submit draft materials to OMB "as far in advance as is feasible."
OMB is supposed to clear all legislative proposals, agency testimony and letters on pending legislation to ensure that such communications reflect "coordinated executive branch views." The memo includes a summary of the "legislative clearance function," and -- lest an agency leader be tempted to circular-file the reminder -- promises that "Legislative Reference Division staff at OMB will be contacting their agency counterparts to discuss these matters."
Although the timing is notable for the IT community, given Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires' extended leave and reported standoff over CIO authorities, the reminder is more likely due to the many budget-related conversations under way on Capitol Hill. Or Zients might simply be putting the house in order before stepping aside for director-nominee Sylvia Mathews Burwell.
OMB could not immediately be reached for comment on what prompted the memo. But whatever the catalyst: You've been warned.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Apr 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM1 comments
Rumors continue to swirl about the status of Department of Homeland Security Chief Information Officer Richard Spires, who recently went on leave without explanation.
It turns out, the department is definitely searching for a CIO. It just happens to be for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, not DHS overall.
USAJobs continues to advertise the position, currently held by acting CIO Rob Thomas II, who took over in February.
The position pays between $119,000 and $179,000 per year, and the ad says it will remain open through May 6.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Apr 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Apr 05, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
The myth-busting effort is intended to dispel misconceptions about the rules governing vendor/agency engagement. (FCW image)
Work for an agency that did great things with acquisition? You might want to consider it for the Myth-busting Award.
The American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council and its federal government partners have introduced the 2013 "Myth-busting Award" for agencies and programs that made significant advances in acquisition processes by improving communications.
In previous years, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy issued memoranda on myth-busting with the aim to enhance communication between government and industry in the federal acquisition process. Agencies then created government-industry communication initiatives to improve acquisition outcomes.
The ACT-IAC Acquisition Management Shared Interest Group now wants to acknowledge government’s work related to this effort. Only government programs are eligible for the award, which will be presented at the May 29 ACT-IAC Myth-busting Forum.
For more information and to access the online Myth-busting Award nomination form, visit ACT-IAC's Myth-busting page.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Apr 04, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
The Federal Trade Commission tapped the Challenge.gov contest platform to find new ways to hang up on illegal robocallers -- telemarketers who use automatic dialers to contact consumers and play them prerecorded messages.
The agency on April 2 named Serdar Danis and Aaron Foss as the winners of $25,000 each for their proposals for systems that identify and block robocalls, which use techniques like caller ID spoofing to trick unsuspecting consumers. The FTC also bestowed a non-monetary award on two entrants from Google, who proposed a system to use algorithms to identify illegal callers.
While the FTC can’t implement or even endorse specific solutions on its own, the agency’s consumer protection chief Charles Harwood said that he hoped the results of the contest on the Challenge.gov platform would inspire the private sector to take up the problem of marketing robocalls. Every month, the FTC receives about 200,000 consumer complaints about robocalls, Harwood said.
The FTC launched the contest on the Challenge.gov platform in August of last year, drawing almost 800 eligible entries. Entrants got access to FTC datasets on robocalls, covering four years of consumer complaints.
Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Apr 02, 2013 at 12:10 PM2 comments
Stu Shea, chairman and CEO of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) is stepping down from the non-profit educational foundation focused on innovation that he founded ten years ago. He announced his decision at a quarterly meeting of USGIF’s Board of Directors in early March.
The board appointed USGIF President Keith Masback to replace Shea as the organization’s CEO while Shea will remain with the organization as the Chairman of the USGIF Board of Directors.
Also during the meeting, USGIF Vice President of Operations Aimee McGranahan was named to the newly-created chief operating officer position.
These changes highlight the foundation’s evolution of leadership to where the organization no longer requires both a CEO and president, according to a statement from USGIF.
"These two promotions reflect the respect and confidence the Board of Directors have for both Keith and Aimee, and the leadership success they have achieved for the foundation, its Membership and the GEOINT Community," said Shea. "Since Keith joined USGIF five years ago, he has helped set the strategic direction and grow the Foundation into the respected organization it
is today." Masback joined USGIF in March 2008 after more than 20 years of military and government service. He came to USGIF from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, where he was a senior executive.
McGranahan, who has been with USGIF since its founding in 2004, oversees the foundation’s day-to-day business. Prior to joining USGIF, she worked as a project manager at Northrop Grumman TASC for the Space and Intelligence Operating Unit.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Mar 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
David Kappos, former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is the latest ex-federal executive to join the Partnership for Public Service’s board of directors.
A former Commerce Department official has been named to the Partnership for Public Service’s board of directors.
David Kappos served as undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from August 2009 until February 2013. Before joining the public sector, he spent 26 years at IBM as vice president and assistant general counsel for intellectual property. He is currently a partner at the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP.
“Dave is an innovator, and we’re thrilled that he is lending his management and leadership expertise to our government reform efforts,” said Max Stier, president and CEO at the partnership. “He’s a great addition to the Partnership for Public Service board of directors.”
Kappos won’t be the only former fed on the board. Stier worked previously in all three branches of the federal government. His most recent role was at the Housing and Urban Development Department.
Other board members with government background include:
- Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, most recently served as Deepwater Horizon national incident commander.
Tom Davis, director of federal government affairs at Deloitte, is a former Virginia congressman and chaired the House Government Reform Committee.
Peter Orszag, financial strategies and solutions group and vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup, Inc., left his role as Office of Management and Budget director in July 2010.
Nancy Killefer, director at McKinsey & Company, served as assistant secretary for management, CFO and COO at the Treasury Department from 1997 to 2000.
Sean O’Keefe, chairman and CEO at EADS North America, served four times as a presidential appointee, most recently as NASA administrator.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Mar 27, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Mar 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
GSA's WillowWood facility in northern Virginia.
Smart cards for entry. A conference room with flat-screen TVs for videoconferencing. Docking stations that make it easier to take laptop PCs between home and the office. A wireless phone system that automatically transfers office calls to cell phones. Dry-erase boards on conference room walls to encourage collaboration.
Even today, that sounds like a dream setup for government agencies, but the General Services Administration’s WillowWood office building in Fairfax, Va., had all that back in 1999.
"We were state of the art before state of the art was cool," said Bob Suda, who was chief financial officer and acting CIO at GSA’s Federal Technology Service at the time. "We were green before green was green."
Suda, now president and senior consultant at Suda and Associates, led the way in designing the building’s features. The cost caused some controversy, but Suda said the benefits over the years have been worth it. The Federal Technology Service -- which was combined with the Federal Supply Service to form the Federal Acquisition Service in 2005 -- needed to show off its tech savvy at a time when tech savvy had yet to spread across the government.
Fourteen years later, WillowWood is still considered a high-tech office, but despite its resiliency, GSA officials have decided to close it so they can move out of high-cost leased buildings and consolidate their office space in the region.
A renovated GSA headquarters at 1800 F Street in downtown Washington will nearly double in capacity -- from 2,500 to 4,400 employees -- by adding 62,000 square feet, which will allow GSA to move out of leased space in Washington and Northern Virginia, a GSA spokesman said. The changes will be happening throughout the spring.
Employees will no longer have designated offices but instead will work in a variety of open settings under flexible workplace policies such as hoteling. Hoteling involves reserving a work space in the office -- however, without a continental breakfast or a free USA Today on the doorstep. Employees also have the option of using an unreserved work space or teleworking.
"There will be a seat for every employee at the building, and resident contractors will be able to use work spaces in the building," the spokesman said.
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Mar 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
GSA's Mary Davie
Mary Davie reached the end of her stint as acting Federal Acquisition Service commissioner at the General Services Administration in January, and, having had some time to reflect, she seems happy to have had the experience.
Being acting commissioner "was an exhilarating ride," she wrote March 15 on her Great Government Through Technology blog. "It provided a lens into just how important our role is in -- and to -- the government at all levels: federal, state and local."
Davie is now back to her regular job as the assistant FAS commissioner for the Information Technology Service. Thomas Sharpe took over the role of FAS commissioner in January.
But during her time as acting commissioner, Davie said, she learned how important GSA is to government agencies, fulfilling roles as diverse as providing emergency support during weather emergencies or helping agencies consolidate space.
Now she is taking that perspective back to her office.
"Armed with a greater knowledge, I am confident ITS can support government needs, deliver efficient operations, drive world-class value, and be recognized as agile and innovative," she wrote.
Overall though, she reassured readers, "It's great to be back at ITS."
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Mar 15, 2013 at 12:10 PM1 comments
Alec Ross, senior advisor for innovation to the Secretary of State, officially vacated his post March 12, according to an announcement on his Facebook page.
Ross will be go back to work in the private sector as an "advisor to investors, corporations, institutions and government leaders," according to his letter of resignation, which he posted on Facebook.
"I also plan to dig deep in areas of emerging opportunity in the innovation space," Ross said in the letter. "There are products that only live today in peoples’ imaginations that will help us live happier, healthier, more productive lives while unleashing the next stage of value creation and economic growth. I will be spending a lot of time engaged with the thinkers and entrepreneurs imagining and inventing the future."
Ross joined the State Department in 2009 after serving a key role in President Barack Obama’s campaign, spearheading the agency’s "21st Century Statecraft" initiative and leading Civil Society 2.0,a grass-roots program that helps organizations all over the world harness the Internet to promote good government.
Ross, who began his career educating low-income students for Teach for America, helped foster a culture of eDiplomacy at the State Department, where every embassy now has a social media account and dignitaries reach out to the masses via tweets.
Read our earlier coverage of his plan to step down.
Posted on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Mar 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
The Securities and Exchange Commission, charged with enforcing the nation's financial regulations, could get a leader who sees technology as a high priority. (Stock image)
President Barack Obama’s pick to head the Securities and Exchange Commission says she will work to ensure technology stays at the forefront.
Mary Jo White, who testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs the morning of March 12, said she had mapped out early focus areas if she were to be become the SEC chairwoman.
Together with staff and other commissioners, White said, she would first take on the rulemaking mandates in the Dodd Frank Act and Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, the latter of which has now been in adoption for a full year.
“To complete these legislative mandates expeditiously must be an immediate imperative for the SEC,” she said.
White said a second priority would be to bolster SEC’s enforcement function, which “is essential to the integrity of our financial markets.”
Third, her focus would be to make sure SEC has the cutting-edge technology and expertise necessary to keep pace with the markets and its responsibilities to monitor, regulate and enforce the securities laws. “It’s a great investment to hire experts,” she said.
White, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, most previously served as chair of the litigation department at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. If confirmed by the Senate, she is expected to replace interim SEC Chairwoman Elisse Walter by mid-March.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Mar 12, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Two groups at the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council issued an online survey March 11 designed to help improve the acquisition process as cloud computing is widely implemented.
The responses from the ACT/IAC Cloud Acquisition Survey will help shape policy and practice for buying future government cloud products and services.
The online survey will be open until March 22. Take it here.
The project’s co-chairmen are Mark Day, director of the General Services Administration’s Office of Strategic Programs, and Michael Donovan, distinguished technologist at HP Enterprise Services Office of the CTO.
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Mar 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. (Wikimedia Commons)
How did Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer come to the decision to ban telework in the company? Slacking employees were betrayed by the very technology on which they depended.
According to media reports, such as this one by Nicholas Carlson at businessinsider.com, Mayer analyzed logs for Yahoo's virtual private network, which showed when employees were logging into the company's systems to do work. What she found was that they were not doing it often enough.
Telework advocates blasted the move, but Mayer's decision to require employees to come to the office was met with widespread internal approval -- at least according to one unnamed source in Carlson's story. "There isn't massive uprising. The truth is, they've all been [angry] that people haven't been working," the source said.
But is it that simple? According to Kara Swisher, writing at allthingsd.com, the reaction to Mayer's directive has "been mixed but heated, essentially pitting employees against each other in an awkward way. But the reaction from outside the company has been decidedly negative."
What do you observe at your workplace? Are teleworking feds performing diligently, or are they taking advantage of the opportunities to loaf?
Posted by Michael Hardy on Mar 08, 2013 at 12:10 PM7 comments
No, not that 1 percent -- FCW tries to steer clear of class warfare. This 1 percent represents the best of the best among career federal executives.
On April 25, the Senior Executives Association Professional Development League will honor the 2012 Presidential Distinguished Rank Awardees -- both Senior Executive Service members and Senior Professionals -- with its annual black-tie banquet in the State Department's Diplomatic Reception Rooms.
It's an exclusive gathering, largely limited to the honorees and a select few SEA members. But there is another way: industry types hoping to be in the room -- or simply to support the gala honoring the 2012 awardees -- can contact SEA President Carol A. Bonosaro about contribution options.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Mar 06, 2013 at 12:10 PM2 comments
Two former high-level government security officials joined forces this month to start up a cybersecurity consultancy offering strategies and guidance for business and government.
Tom Ridge, the first Homeland Security Department secretary, and Howard Schmidt, former White House cybersecurity advisor to presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, will serve as partners in Ridge Schmidt Cyber LLC.
"Cyber attacks and cyber crime have a real – not virtual – impact on operations and the bottom line. The effects are as far reaching, disruptive and consequential as physical attacks, and can make or break organizations that are not sufficiently prepared," Ridge said in the announcement of the launch.
According to the release, Ridge Schmidt will offer cybersecurity strategy and architecture design, development of policies and procedures strategic cyber reviews, "as well as provide access to some of the world’s top technical experts from civilian government, military and private sector."
"Our goal is to help leaders improve their cyber resiliency, so attacks don’t impact their systems or their market positions," Schmidt stated in the release.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Mar 06, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
This photo, taken in Feb. 2010 in Dutchess County, NY, shows what the 'Snowquester' of 2013 is not. (Public-domain photo by Julian Colton via commons.wikimedia.org)
As Washington, D.C., prepared for another winter storm by cancelling scheduled events and even several congressional hearings, Dan Tangherlini, acting administrator of the General Services Administration, took a jab at the city’s reaction to the snowfall.
In a speech March 5 at the Federal Managers Conference, the Massachusetts native told attendees who were from regions other than D.C. the hottest places to hang out in the next few days they’re in town.
"You’re here just in time" to watch the city’s "preparation for this substance known as snow," he said. "I suggest you go to anyplace that sells hardware or groceries and entertain yourselves as to how the locals react to this event."
He added, "It will look an awful lot like discussions on sequestration, frankly, acted out in some form of performance art."
As of this writing, on the morning of March 6, the storm seems to be a non-event in Washington, although the suburbs to the west are getting some real accumulating snow.
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Mar 06, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton
Federal employees facing furloughs under the sequester are getting some sympathy and support from Washington, D.C.'s non-voting congressional delegate, who has pledged to donate some of her salary in solidarity.
During a Feb. 28 luncheon organized by the National Treasury Employees Union Feb. 28 luncheon, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said if sequestration happens – as it did the next day -- she would donate a day’s pay for each day federal employees are furloughed.
The length of furloughs varies by agency, but Norton said her donations will match the highest number of furlough days by any federal agency. Her donation will be divided between supporting the Federal Employees Education and Assistance Fund, which assists federal employees in need, and to prevent furloughs among her own congressional staff.
The salaries of members of Congress are exempt from sequestration, but their office budgets are not and will see the same sweeping cuts as federal agencies, Norton said.
“While the salaries of members of Congress enjoy the protection of the Constitution, Congress is visiting pain on its own employees, the American public and the U.S. economy alike,” she said. “The $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts will have a devastating impact on the fragile economic recovery, government services and investments, and particularly federal employees, who have already been subject to a federal pay freeze for more than two years.”
NTEU President Colleen Kelley called Norton’s action noteworthy. “This is a remarkable gesture from a member of Congress who truly understands the value of the federal workforce and the economic pain that employees would experience from losing pay while furloughed,” she said. “It is disappointing that sequestration is imminent, and working together with Congresswoman Norton, NTEU will continue to fight to bring it to an end.”
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Mar 01, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Rep. John Duncan, (R-Tenn.), has three cars. Two have well over 100,000 miles and one has about 98,000 miles, and he said "they're still doing real well."
He's not one to get the hottest and newest car on the market, and he thinks the government may not need the latest IT on the market either.
As he sees it though, agency officials want the hottest technology, and since it's on the government's tab, they get the most advanced IT with all "the latest bells and whistles."
At an Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on buying IT Feb. 27, he asked:
"How can we incentivize people to get more use out of the technology they have and hold onto it and use it one year longer or two years longer?"
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Feb 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM3 comments
Do you work in an agency that has been particularly successful in workforce development and training initiatives? Now is your chance to nominate it for the 2013 W. Edwards Deming Award, which celebrates excellence in government training.
Graduate School USA’s annual W. Edwards Deming Award recognizes federal organizations that have demonstrated “transformative training excellence” and those who have pursued training and development that had a significant impact on agency performance.
Previous winners shared why winning the Deming Award has been a big deal to them. Stephen Cricchi, director of integrated systems evaluation, experimentation and test department at the Naval Air Systems Command, said the award served as a stamp of approval.
“It validated our training efforts on a grander scale outside our own Navy perspective and enabled us to gain recognition within the DOD,” he said.
For the Office of Appellate Operations at the Social Security Administration, winning the Deming Award shone a light on its transformative training within the SSA and other agencies, said Patricia Jones, executive director at the office.
“We are currently working with the Canadian government’s Pension Plan Disability Program, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the North Carolina Department of Revenue,” she said. “Without the recognition received from the Deming Award, we wouldn’t have been this extensive in our reach.”
Nomination forms and other information can be found on the Graduate School USA website (Click here.) The submission deadline is March 25, 2013, 5 p.m. Eastern.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Feb 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Federal CTO Todd Park speaking at the Esri Federal GIS conference. (FCW photo by Frank Konkel)
Federal CTO Todd Park wants mapmakers and geospatial developers to lead a “whole new wave of awesomeness for our country,” in which open-data innovation produces “new products, features, insights to create jobs and [still more] general awesomeness.”
Park’s enthusiastic speech, given Feb. 27 to a large audience at Esri Federal GIS conference in Washington, D.C., closed the three-day event with a mix of infectious optimism, GIS success stories, Star Wars references and a glimpse of the near future.
“As much as we’ve accomplished to date, we all think our best work is ahead of us,” said Park, citing successes like the National Broadband Map, a searchable public database of information on broadband Internet availability across the country. “I actually believe we’re on the cusp of a new open age when it comes to harnessing government data to impact our nation.”
The next efforts, Park said, focus on “liberating” existing raw data, leveraging maps, data visualization and other tools that make it easy for end users to consume the information. He promised new polices to “turbocharge this effort,” and added that the federal government’s fire hose of open data – www.data.gov – is getting “upgrades to plumbing, architectures and end-user interface.”
Yet while Park praised the tools and standards, from GitHub to GeoJSON, that fuel GIS innovation, he stressed the key to making a real difference is human collaboration. A growing number of data jams, datapaloozas and hackathons are showcasing and encouraging innovation in all sectors, he said, and making federal GIS data more widely available brings broad public benefit in the long run.
“Data by itself is useless – and it’s painful for me to say this,” Park said. “You can’t pour data on a broken bone and heal it. You can’t pour data on the street and fix it. Data is only useful if it is applied for useful public benefit.”
So Park praised the attendees for putting in the hard work to wrestle massive datasets into useful information and insights. “Thank you so much for all you’ve already done, thank you even more for what you are about to do,” Park said, before concluding, “May the Force be with you and all of us.”
Posted by Frank Konkel on Feb 27, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel taked the oath of office, administered by Michael L. Rhodes, the Defense Department's director of administration and management, as Hagel's wife' Lilibet holds the Bible. (DOD photo)
After receiving Senate confirmation on Feb. 26, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel was confirmed the morning of Feb. 27 as secretary of the Defense Department. He is DOD's 24th defense secretary and the first enlisted combat veteran to lead the Pentagon.
The confirmation came after a contentious fight in the Senate, which included sharp questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 31 and a filibuster that delayed the vote to confirm him. In a Feb. 26 statement, Vice President Joe Biden praised Hagel and his sense of duty toward the armed services.
"Wherever he is, his talent and dedication to our country are clear. He feels a deep commitment to our men and women in uniform, and as the head of the Pentagon, I know their interests will always be close to his heart," Biden said. "Most importantly, I know the president will be able to rely on Chuck’s sound, unvarnished judgment on any issue where our troops are involved. For that and many more reasons, I’m looking forward to working with Secretary Hagel."
Hagel briefly addressed DOD employees and reporters on Feb. 27 after his swearing-in, stressing his focus on teamwork as being key to effective leadership.
"I will do everything in my power to be the kind of leader you expect and deserve. The kind of leader the country deserves," Hagel said.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Feb 27, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Innovators in the government would be easier to spot if they had neon signs over their heads, says CTO Todd Park -- maybe one like this indicating an innovator's likely working hours. (Stock image)
U.S. CTO Todd Park knows the government has innovators. They're all over the place and can do "miraculous" things. The problem, he says, is that not everyone knows where to look.
"One thing we discovered—and I was very, very happy to learn early in my government career—the government isn't devoid of innovators," Park said Feb. 22 during a conference call with the President's Management Advisory Board. "The problem they have is that they don't have an innovator label and neon over their head."
Government innovators also have asked leaders to connect them with industry's best change agents. So for the next round of Presidential Innovation Fellowships, Park plans a "concrete, non-academic, super-tangible, hard-hitting" initiative that can also hook up government and industry innovators.
Park, never one to avoid mixing metaphors, said he was confident that it was possible to raise innovators' visibility so that actual neon signs are no longer necessary -- and that he and others are up to the task: "There's nothing that innovation likes better than a challenge. So there are fires that we started that are beginning to burn quite brightly, and we'd love to actually dive more deeply into them with you."
Because nothing is easier to spot than a flaming innovator.
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Feb 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM1 comments
Tom Marshburn is one of three astronauts who will chat with Earthbound fans via Google+. (NASA photo)
NASA, the agency that brought you the first ever tweet from space (2009) and a FourSquare check-in from Mars (2012), will host a Google+ Hangout live with the International Space Station on Feb. 22 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Eastern time.
The Hangout is viewable on the NASA Google+ Page or NASA's YouTube channel.
During the hangout, astronauts aboard the space station -- Kevin Ford, Chris Hadfield and Tom Marshburn -- will team with astronauts on the ground to answer video questions from Google+ and Twitter users who use the hashtag #askAstro, and Facebook friends who post in a thread that will open the morning of the event.
NASA's website explains that "unique and original questions" are more likely to be selected.
In addition, NASA will ask real-time questions submitted by followers on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
During the Hangout, astronauts will describe what life is like during their six-month stay to conduct science experiments and perform space station maintenance.
NASA is no stranger to combining social media, science and space.
Its Mars Curiosity rover - the famous mobile machine that checked into Mars on FourSquare -- has more than 1.2 million Twitter followers, and it is just one of more than 480 social media accounts NASA manages, according to the agency's deputy social media manager Jason Townsend.
In fact, the Curiosity rover is close to home compared to NASA's farthest reaching social media efforts. Almost 90,000 people follow the latest happenings of NASA's Voyager 1 & 2 spacecraft. Launched in the 1970s, they are the farthest manmade objects from Earth -- close to leaving our solar system at nearly 12 billion miles away.
Follow Marshburn and Hadfield on Twitter at: @AstroMarshburn and @Cmdr_Hadfield. Follow the Voyager space probes at @NASAVoyager and @NASAVoyager2.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Feb 20, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
VA CTO Peter Levin
Veterans Affairs Department CTO Peter Levin has announced he is stepping down from his post, just days after news broke that VA CIO Roger Baker is planning on leaving.
Levin told Fedscoop he plans to resign effective March 1. He was appointed senior adviser to the secretary and CTO in May 2009 and has since spearheaded veteran health and benefit service innovations. He was instrumental in launching the Blue Button initiative, which enables veterans to share and manage their personal health data.
Before stepping into his VA CTO role, Levin was a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator, a White House fellow, and an Alexander von Humboldt fellow. He has co-written more than 50 articles on topics such as global positioning, cybersecurity, and computer modeling and simulations.
Prior to joining the Obama administration, Levin was in private industry. He co-founded and led a semiconductor design software firm and was also a venture partner at Dusseldorf-based venture firm Ventizz Capital Partners. He also served as executive director of Astaro A.G.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Feb 19, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
An artist's rendering of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal which encompasses cyber warfare, among other pursuits. (DOD image)
Here's one more sign the Pentagon is serious about cybersecurity: There's now a medal for it.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Feb. 13 announced the creation of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, for "extraordinary achievement, not involving acts of valor, directly impacting combat operations or other military operations." Cyberwarfare personnel and drone pilots are among those who would be eligible for the new award.
"Our military reserves its highest decorations obviously for those who display gallantry and valor in actions where their lives are on the line, and we will continue to do so," Panetta said. "But we should also have the ability to honor the extraordinary actions that make a true difference in combat operations. And the work that they do ... does contribute to the success of combat operations, particularly when they remove the enemy from the field of battle, even if those actions are physically removed from the fight."
The new award has drawn criticism, however, because it was placed higher in the hierarchy of military honors than the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Nick McDowell, a member of the Orders and Medals Society of America, told USA Today, "the ultimate consequence is that it will diminish the prestige of the valor decorations. Nobody wants that, but that is basically what happens."
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Feb 15, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Danny Werfel (AP photo)
Has Danny Werfel, controller at the Office of Management and Budget, lost his sense of humor?
During a Feb. 13 presentation at Association of Government Accountant’s National Leadership Conference, Werfel explained to the audience why he did not have a funny anecdote, which is his usual way of kicking off an AGA keynote.
“I said to Steve [VanRoekel], ‘it’s finally happened: I’m so busy I didn’t even have time to plan for an opening joke,” Werfel said. “We’ve gotten to that point at OMB; you can imagine what’s going on behind the scenes.”
Despite the preoccupation with the future of federal IT systems and financial management, Werfel’s presentation topic, the OMB controller did not seem entirely humorless, however. When AGA Executive Director Relmond Van Daniker urged conference attendants to take home several of the leftover AGA bags, Werfel grabbed the opportunity to finally make a joke – and like a pro, tie it back into his earlier speech.
“Maybe next time, you should lower your purchasing on bags, OK? Or use strategic sourcing!” Werfel mock-scolded.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
USAID's Mike Casella is moving to GSA as CFO. (USAID photo)
Michael Casella, a budget official at the U.S. Agency for International Development, will become chief financial officer at the General Services Administration, GSA's acting administrator announced Feb. 13.
Casella has been director of USAID's Office of Budget and Resource Management since 2010, when the office was created. Previously, he was acting vice president for administration and finance at the Millennium Challenge Corp.
He replaces Alison Doone, who has accepted a position as deputy CFO at the Energy Department after a six-month detail at the Partnership for Public Service. Gary Grippo has been filling in as acting CFO.
Casella’s appointment comes on the heels of Tom Sharpe being sworn in as commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service Feb. 12 and Dorothy Robyn being named commissioner of GSA’s Public Buildings Service in September 2012.
Dan Tangherlini, GSA's acting administrator, wrote on the GSA Blog that the new appointments build on the priorities the agency announced in January. "We are maintaining that momentum by bringing together a new leadership team that will help us deliver on our mission," he said.
Filling those important leadership positions shows that GSA is committed to supporting its customer agencies, Tangherlini wrote. "By having qualified, permanent individuals in place, we are making a clear statement about the importance and value of our customers, our vendors, and their needs," he added.
Agencies need to find ways to save money as the threat of sequestration looms and other budget cuts are implemented. "Other agencies are looking to us to help them find the savings and services that they need to more efficiently fulfill their responsibilities," Tangherlini wrote.
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Feb 13, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
President Obama, shown here during 2012's post-SOTU event, will answer some constituent questions in a similar event Feb. 14. (White House photograph)
Much as we'd like to hope otherwise, President Obama's Feb. 12 State of the Union address is not likely to devote much time to federal IT. But FCW readers have a chance to raise those issues themselves when the president hosts his second post-State of the Union online chat using a Google Hangout.
Dubbed a "Fireside Hangout," the discussion will take place at 4:50 p.m. ET on Feb. 14. Obama will talk with a pre-selected panel of questioners, but questions from the public are also being accepted.
Questions in text or video form must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 13. So get to asking!
Submit questions at www.youtube.com/user/whitehouse/askobama.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Feb 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
In this picture from 1997, Defense Department officials show the Hammer Award they won for re-engineering DOD's temporary duty travel system. Pictured: Deputy Secretary of Defense John H. Hamre; Karen Alderman, director of DOD's travel re-engineering; and Bob Stone, project director of the National Performance Review. (DOD photo)
In the hunt for cost-savings across government, go to the people who handle the money—federal employees—and then offer incentives for smart decisions.
Employees, given the inspiration of the incentive, "are more than willing to do something," John Kamensky, senior fellow at the IBM Center for the Business of Government, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Feb. 5.
Kamensky, who worked for eight years as deputy director of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, reminded the committee members of then-Vice President Al Gore's Hammer Award. The award was given to teams of employees that went the extra mile in the areas of cost-savings, customer service, or cutting red tape. The teams received a $6 hammer, a ribbon, and a note from Gore, all in an aluminum frame.
The inexpensive display was meant to ridicule the Pentagon's infamous $400 hammer.
"I actually had the opportunity to deliver some of these awards in ceremonies across the country and there were people in tears, saying, 'I've worked 30 or 40 years for the federal government and no one has ever told me thank you,'" he said.
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Feb 07, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Is the sequester a certainty? Legislators and agency leaders alike are now saying the March 1 cuts will likely take effect. But former Government Accountability Office executive Paul Posner told the Federal Times this week that "the full sequester is only one of 20 potential scenarios."
Posner, who was GAO's director of Federal Budget and Intergovernmental Relations and now heads George Mason University's Master's in Public Administration program, told FCW on Feb. 5 that a "short sequester" seems probable, but there is still "considerable uncertainty surrounding the outcome."
The March 1 cuts are relatively small compared to past sequesters, Posner said, noting that cuts of 25 percent were threatened in a 1990 sequester that prompted a bipartisan grand bargain. And this time, he said, is appears that most everyone "dislikes the alternatives to sequester even more than they dislike the sequester."
However, a budget deal to extend the continuing resolution that expires March 27 could roll back some or all of the sequester, Posner said. And there could be legislation that preserves the overall cuts, but gives agencies more flexibility in how to apply them.
Those hoping for an expert prediction, however, are out of luck: "I would not bet on any outcome at this point," Posner said.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Feb 06, 2013 at 12:10 PM3 comments
Sen. Harry Reid did not make a surprise appearance at a House committee hearing, but his voice did -- in a way.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) paid a surprise visit to a Feb. 5 House oversight hearing -- or at least that's what it sounded like.
The witness was actually John Kamensky, senior fellow at the IBM Center for The Business of Government. But as Kamensky discussed ridding waste from the government before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) stopped him.
"Has anyone ever told you, if you close your eyes, you sound exactly like Harry Reid?" the congressman asked. He added quickly, with a glance toward committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.): "And that's a compliment from this side of the aisle."
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Feb 05, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
A Defense Information System Agency collaboration platform is up for honors as a top example of government management and IT.
Defense Connect Online, a Defense Department-wide tool used for both classified and unclassified information sharing, is one of five contenders to be recognized for excellence in intergovernmental collaboration. The awards program is facilitated by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC).
"ACT-IAC is once again honored to provide a premiere forum for recognizing the exceptional work being done and the value being delivered through government programs," Dale Luddeke, IAC chair, said in a released statement from ACT-IAC. "In each instance, the finalists have inspired us all to seek new, innovative, and collaborative ways to approach the most challenging areas of mission and business needs and to achieve ever greater levels of service and efficiency."
In total, there are 25 finalists across five categories for the awards.
According to DISA, DCO "is a free service provided to all DOD partners, allowing users to communicate and share information in a secure forum through the use of instant messaging, low-bandwidth text chat and audio/video Web conferencing."
Winners will be announced at an awards luncheon, to be held March 5 in Washington.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Jan 31, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Melissa Starinsky, a member of the senior executive service, is the new chancellor of the Veterans Affairs Department's Acquisition Academy, the department announced Jan. 28.
Starinsky previously was deputy director of the Office of Acquisition and Grants Management for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She oversaw more than $8 billion annually in discretionary contract, grant, and interagency spending.
Prior to that, Starinsky was the first vice chancellor of the VAAA’s Acquisition Internship School, a program aimed at accelerating the learning curve of VA acquisition interns and strengthening the VA acquisition workforce.
In her new role, she presides over five schools, including the Acquisition Internship School, the Program Management School, the Contracting Professional School, the Facilities Management School, and the Supply Chain Management School.
As chancellor, Starinsky sets the VAAA's executive direction and reinforces its commitment to building up the VA acquisition workforce.
"She brings a wealth of experience in acquisition, contracting, strategic workforce planning, organizational development, resource allocation, and talent and performance management," said Jan Frye, VA's deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics. "Her passion for developing employees into highly trained and skilled professionals makes her well-suited for this position."
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Jan 29, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the Armed Services Committee
The House Armed Services Committee leadership on Jan. 29 announced the chairs and members of their subcommittees. They include:
- Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities;
- Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), Military Personnel;
- Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Readiness;
- Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Seapower and Projection Forces;
- Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Strategic Forces;
- Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Tactical Air and Land Forces, and;
- Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), Oversight and Investigations.
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), is the committee chairman, and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) is the ranking member.
For the full list of subcommittee members, click here.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Jan 29, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
'Telework' is no longer a big enough word to describe working on the go. (Stock image)
The Telework Exchange has changed its name to Mobile Work Exchange, part of public-private partnership’s rebranding efforts to expand its mission to increase focus on telework and lead mobile IT discussions in the federal government.
According to a Jan. 28 announcement, the Mobile Work Exchange will continue to provide best practices in telework, performance management, effective communication, recruitment and retention and other workforce-related topics, but will begin to key in on prime issues in mobile IT, such as cybersecurity, privacy, bring-your-own-device policies, mobile device management, virtualization and cloud. In making the shift, the organization has added a new resource center on mobile IT, and refreshed its monthly publication, now called The Mobile Worker.
The organizational change comes following the growth in government telework adoption as well as a new focus on encouraging mobility in the federal workforce.
"We’ve spent the last eight years supporting the awareness and adoption of telework," said Cindy Auten, general manager of Mobile Work Exchange. "Now that the federal government is moving telework in the fast lane, the conversation is changing. And so are we. As telework drives the mobile IT discussion forward, we will expand our role to cover both telework and mobile IT topics."
Mobile Work Exchange plans to continue its annual Telework Week, which starts this year on March 4.
For more information, visit www.mobileworkexchange.com.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Jan 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Is John Berry, the head of the Office of Personnel Management, looking at the Interior Department as his next gig? Possibly.
The rumor isn't new. The Washington Post reported last September on the possibility of Berry as "a leading contender" for the role as cabinet secretary at Interior. Then on Jan. 16, The Post’s Lisa Rein wrote Berry is the likely replacement for Ken Salazar, who is resigning in March.
As the government’s chief people person, Berry is tasked with recruiting, hiring and setting benefits policies for nearly 2 million federal civilian workers. He was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009. Berry himself has kept mum about a possible move from OPM. Asked by Federal Times whether he was planning on taking the reins at Interior, Berry replied: "No comment. At this point, I stand ready to serve the president in any capacity he desires."
A transition to Interior would be no stretch for Berry. He previously served as director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Zoo, where a lion cub was named after him.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jan 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM1 comments
A former congressional staffer is heading to TechAmerica to work on issues related to the Defense Department and the intelligence community.
Scott Bousum, who previously supported the House Armed Services Committee, has joined the technology trade association’s global public sector team. His prior work includes supporting the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, which has oversight of Army and Air Force acquisition programs, as well as all Navy and Marine Corps aviation programs and a number of National Guard and Reserve matters. Before joining the committee staff, Bousum worked for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
“Scott’s expertise and experience has immediately benefitted our members and will be an asset in representing our interests before Congress and the administration as well as providing in-depth analysis of the most important national security-related topics,” said Trey Hodgkins, senior vice president of TechAmerica's global public sector team.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jan 25, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
An optimist cheers the smallest boons, even ones camouflaged in absurdly old IT systems.
At Jan. 22 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on IT reform, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) asked whether the government should devote more of their limited budgets to securing older computer systems.
Some systems, however, are so dated that they are in no way threatened by hackers. Some internal systems can only be run locally and are unable to connect to the Web. And some run on such obsolete machines and operating systems that it is useless for hackers to even attempt to infiltrate them.
Systems written in Common Business-Oriented Language, or COBOL, are “pretty much hack-proof,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the committee. “It’s so bad that hackers can’t even bother,” he said, adding that most hackers are not even old enough to understand the language.
“Be grateful for small favors,” Holmes Norton said.
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Jan 23, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
GSA Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini (pictured) announced the appointment of Treasury's Tom Sharpe to lead FAS.
Tom Sharpe is the General Services Administration’s new Federal Acquisition Service commissioner, the agency announced Jan. 22.
Sharpe will oversee the acquisition and provision of more than $55 billion in products, services, and solutions to federal agencies.
Sharpe has 30 years of experience in both the private sector and government. He has served most recently as the Treasury Department’s senior procurement executive. He was responsible for Treasury-wide procurement policy, procurement career management, and oversight and continuous improvement of bureau procurement operations.
Before Treasury, Sharpe was as a consulting principal with IBM Business Consulting Services. He was responsible for the marketing, sales and delivery of procurement transformation engagements with IBM’s commercial and government customers.
GSA Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini said his agency has worked to refocus itself in the last year after a blowup in April 2012 over lavish conference spending. He said Sharpe as the new FAS commissioner is one more example of change.
“Over the past year, GSA has made significant progress toward refocusing on our mission and giving the American people the kind of efficient and effective service they deserve,” Tangherlini said.
Tangherlini complimented Sharpe’s experience as an acquisition leader and his work representing for many years Treasury, a key GSA customer.
That experience makes him “uniquely qualified to help GSA better serve all of our partners,” he said.
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Jan 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Mike Locatis is leaving DHS after nine months, according to reports.
Mike Locatis, the assistant secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at the Homeland Security Department, is leaving the position after just nine months, Federal News Radio reports.
Citing an e-mail from Rand Beers, the DHS undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, Jason Miller reports that Loactis is returning to his Colorado home. Bobbie Stempfley, who held the position before Locatis came from the Energy Department, will return to it. Stempfley is currently deputy assistant secretary in the same office.
Posted by FCW Staff on Jan 17, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
President Barack Obama talks with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in this photo from 2011. (White House photo)
Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar has announced he plans to leave his post in March, ending his nearly four-year stint at the agency.
The Denver Post first reported in December that Salazar was expected to make an official announcement about his departure in the coming months. The Associated Press reported Salazar’s resignation on Jan. 16, citing a senior administration official.
Salazar, a former Colorado senator, spearheaded renewable energy efforts at the department and worked to overhaul offshore oil and gas development oversight. Following the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Salazar held a key role in implementing a six-month deepwater offshore drilling moratorium.
Salazar becomes the latest top official to leave the administration as Obama’s new term begins. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis have also announced their exits. Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack have announced their intent to stay on.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jan 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Janet Napolitano and Tom Vilsack
Two more agency leaders are being added to the roster of senior officials who announced they are staying on for President Barack Obama’s second term.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will continue their service, according to news reports.
“As we look ahead to a promising future in our small towns and rural communities, I am pleased to continue working alongside President Obama to grow more opportunity in rural America,” Vilsack said in a Jan. 14 statement.
Napolitano, former governor of Arizona, and Vilsack, former governor of Iowa, have each been in their current roles since 2009. Napolitano leads counterterrorism efforts and oversees the nation's immigration enforcement agencies, while Vilsack works to boost the U.S. agricultural economy.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jan 15, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Joe Caggiano, a 23-year veteran of the federal contracting marketplace, died Jan. 14 at his home in Bethesda, Md., according to a friend and former co-worker.
He died from a massive heart attack, said Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners. Caggiano and Allen worked together at The Washington Management Group before it was purchased by Deltek.
Caggiano, 48, was a principal at Reznick Government, a business advisory firm. He is perhaps best known for turning around FedSources, where he was chief operating officer. He left FedSources when it was purchased by Deltek in April 2011.
He joined Reznick Government in October 2011. His aim was expanding the firm into the federal market. He had extensive experience in knowledge management, business performance consulting and customer relations within the federal market, according to colleagues at Reznick.
Reznick did not return calls for comment.
Before joining the private sector, Caggiano served in the U.S. Navy for eight years.
He is survived by his wife, five children, and his father, Paul Caggiano, who has served as president of the Washington Management Group and the Coalition for Government Procurement.
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Jan 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM5 comments
Brook Colangelo, seen here testifying before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, resigned his White House position in December 2012. (Photo: Office of Rep. Darrell Issa/Flickr)
A former White House IT official – and 2011 Federal 100 winner – has a new gig in the private sector.
Brook Colangelo, who served as CIO at the Executive Office of the President from 2009 through 2012, is joining Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to lead IT strategy and technology infrastructure development.
Colangelo will be based in the Boston-located global headquarters of the publishing house. His responsibilities will include core IT operations and infrastructure services across HMH's global office network.
Colangeo resigned from the White House in December. Before that position, he held several senior IT leadership roles, including within the Democratic National Convention Committee, The American Red Cross' Hurricane Recovery Program and QRS Newmedia.
In addition to being recognized for his IT leadership as a Fed 100 winner, Colangelo made Computerworld’s 2012 Premier 100 IT Leaders and InformationWeek's The Government CIO 50 lists.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jan 10, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Issa: 'VA is not yet positioned to move beyond this abuse.'
A second official from the Veterans Affairs Department has resigned after a conference spending scandal erupted in 2012, according to a news report.
Alice Muellerweiss, dean of the VA Learning University, has left her position, the Washington Examiner reported Jan. 8.
According to a VA inspector general report, Muellerweiss had oversight of the planning and execution of the two human resources conferences in 2011. Before Muellerweiss, John Sepulveda, VA’s assistant secretary for human resources and administration, resigned a day prior to the IG report’s release Oct. 1, 2012.
In a statement, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the department is in a leadership crisis.
“The parade of VA officials slowly stepping down over several months without accepting responsibility is a troubling sign that the VA is not yet positioned to move beyond this abuse,” he said.
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Jan 08, 2013 at 12:10 PM1 comments
John Brennan, deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, is President Obama's choice to lead the CIA. (White House photo)
President Barack Obama has nominated his chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency, reports CNN.
Brennan, whose official title is deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, has served at the spy agency for 25 years. If the Senate confirms the nominee, Brennan will replace Gen. David Petraeus, who stepped down Nov. 9, 2012 after admitting an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell.
After joining the CIA in 1980, Brennan held various roles at the agency, including Near East and South Asia analyst, chief of staff and first director of the National Counterterrorism Center. He also served as intelligence briefer for President Bill Clinton. In 2009, Brennan was named assistant to the president for counterterrorism and homeland security.
In 2005, Brennan left government and spent three years in private industry, serving as president and CEO of The Analysis Corporation, now named Sotera Defense, a security technology company. He also chaired the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.
Along with news of Brennan’s new role, Politico reported Jan. 7 that Obama will also announce his nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) as the next defense secretary, replacing Leon Panetta who took office July 1, 2011.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jan 07, 2013 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Interns at NASA's Johnson Space Center produced a parody of the popular 'Gangnam Style' video. The parody has drawn more than 2.7 million views on YouTube.
Sick of Korean rapper PSY's "Gangnam Style" video yet? If so, you might want to click away now -- but NASA's parody version appears to be paying PR dividends for the space agency.
The video produced by Johnson Space Center Pathway interns, called “NASA Johnson Style (Gangnam Style Parody),” was shot at several JSC facilities and features astronauts as well as interns. Posted to NASA's YouTube channel on Dec. 14, it has drawn nearly 2.7 million views, and mentions in the Los Angeles Times, the popular BoingBoing blog and elsewhere.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said the video serves a valuable educational purpose, but he acknowledged that not everyone in the NASA community gets it.
“I get a lot of notes from my friends from the Apollo era who say we're lost, we don't know what we're doing,” the Los Angeles Times quoted Bolden as saying at a Dec. 20 event. “And after one of them saw this YouTube video, they were completely convinced we are really messed up.”
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Dec 21, 2012 at 12:10 PM3 comments
Donald Adcock joined the Energy Department in April 2012.
The Energy Department has settled on a new deputy CIO, FCW has learned.
Donald Adcock, who has been serving as associate CIO for energy IT services, is expected to assume his new duties as DOE’s deputy CIO on Dec. 30, according to inside sources speaking on background. He will succeed Robert F. Brese, who moved up to the agency CIO position in July 2012.
In his most recent role, Adcock has been responsible for leading and delivering mission-critical IT services for DOE, according to his bio on the agency’s website.
“Mr. Adcock provides strategic leadership and operational oversight of the department’s primary IT infrastructure and is responsible for implementing the Office of the CIO’s services transformation activities and for providing secure, national-level decision making capabilities for the Secretary of Energy, his advisors and the principal leadership of the department,” his bio states.
Prior to coming to DOE in April 2012, Adcock served as the executive director of the Army IT Agency, where he was based at the Pentagon.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Dec 21, 2012 at 12:10 PM2 comments
Arun Majumdar, former director of the Energy Department's advanced research effort, will lead energy initiatives at Google. (Energy Department photo
Google has tapped a former federal executive to further its energy initiatives and advise on a broader energy strategy.
Arun Majumdar joins Google after serving as director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy from October 2009 to June 2012. ARPA-E is the only agency devoted to transformational energy research and development, according to its website. In a blog post, Google did not announce his job title.
Before joining ARPA-E, Majumdar held academic and research positions at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley. His research career focused on the science and engineering of energy conversion, transport, and storage ranging from molecular and nanoscale-level to large energy systems, according to Energy.gov. In 2005, Majumdar was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Posted by Emily Cole on Dec 18, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Brig. Gen. Sheila Zuehlke, nominated for promotion and assigned as mobilization assistant to the commander of U.S. Cyber Command. (Air Force photo)
The Air Force has announced three new personnel appointments in the Washington metro region.
Brig. Gen. Sheila Zuehlke was nominated for appointment to the rank of major general and assigned as mobilization assistant to the commander of U.S. Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency and chief of the Central Security Service. Zuehlke will work at Ft. George G. Meade, Md.
Brig. Gen. Jocelyn Seng was nominated for appointment to the rank of major general and for assignment as military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. Seng will be based at the Pentagon.
Col. Wade Smith was nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general and for assignment as mobilization assistant to the director of the Defense Contract Management Agency in Alexandria, Va.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Dec 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
About $100,000 in jewelry was stolen from Rep. Darrell Issa's California home, according to police.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had an estimated $100,000 worth of jewelry stolen from his home in Vista, Calif., on Nov. 29, according to San Diego County authorities.
Police records indicate more than 50 pieces of jewelry, including rings, bracelets and watches, were taken in the burglary, and authorities have thus far not made any arrests.
Issa is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, having made much of his fortune as the CEO of a company that manufactures automobile security products. A spokesman for Issa said the stolen items were family heirlooms.
Posted by Frank Konkel on Dec 07, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Dec 07, 2012 at 9:03 AM0 comments
Editor's Note: This story was modified after its original publication to correct Wright's title.
Pamela Wright has been chosen as the National Archives’ first-ever chief innovation officer, effective Dec. 2.
Archivist of the United State David S. Ferriero made the announcement in a Nov. 30 statement.
“This new office is charged with fostering a culture of innovation at the National Archives, and I am pleased that Pamela Wright has been selected to lead it,” he said. ”With her extensive experience, proven leadership, and innovative spirit, she is well suited to lead this effort."
Wright’s tasks will include finding innovative ways to share the archives’ extensive holdings with the public. Her plan is to create an “Innovation Hub” to develop and launch collaborative projects, raise public challenges, and partner with the archival community, private sector and academia.
Wright has been at the National Archives since 2001. Her past seven years were spent promoting digital access and strategy. Wright previously served as the agency’s first chief digital access strategist and launched many of the National Archives’ social media platforms.
Her “Citizen Archivist Dashboard” initiative is intended to make National Archives records more accessible online by using crowdsourcing to tag, transcribe, and edit articles, as well as to upload and share scans or images of records.
Wright also represents the National Archives on the White House Open Government Working Group. Her efforts include several internal working groups and teams aimed at fostering the open government.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Dec 07, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Brook Colangelo, seen here testifying before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, has resigned his White House position. (Photo: Rep. Darrell Issa/Flickr)
The White House Office of Administration in the Executive Office of the President is losing its CIO this week.
Brook Colangelo submitted his resignation this week, according to a Dec. 5 report by FedScoop.
Colangelo joined the office in 2009, after having served CIO of the Democratic National Convention Committee. He led a green-technology effort to cut the committee’s carbon footprint, and served as the IT project manager for the American Red Cross’ Hurricane Recovery Program.
Before that role, Colangelo was director of technology for QRS Newmedia Inc, a Washington, D.C.-based communications and consulting company.
Colangelo was recognized in 2011 for a Federal 100 award for his work in ensuring the White House technology infrastructure was resilient enough and allowed 60 percent of White House employees do to mission-critical work during the February 2010 blizzards.
There’s no word yet on who will replace Colangelo. Attempts to contact him and his office were unsuccessful.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Dec 06, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Anne Altman and husband Xavier Alire
Anne Altman is now a Lifetime Achievement Heroine, thanks to the 12th Annual 2012 Heroines in Technology Awards, presented by the March of Dimes and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.
Presented Nov. 9, the awards honor women in the technology community including government, nonprofit and commercial organizations for their outstanding commitment to community service. The event raised more than $180,000 to support the March of Dimes.
Altman has been the General Manager for IBM’s Global Public Sector since August 2009, and serves as the most senior executive for the strategy, direction and development of solutions for public sector clients worldwide. She has worked with IBM since 1981.
Posted by Emily Cole on Dec 05, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Jack Brooks, an early pioneer in the laws of federal IT procurement, passed away in Texas.
Editor's Note: This item was first published at FCW.com's sister site, WashingtonTechnology.com.
The man considered to be the father of modern IT procurement died Dec. 4, at the age of 89, in a hospital in his hometown of Beaumont, Texas.
Jack Brooks was a Democrat from Texas who served in the U.S. Congress for 42 years. Among his accomplishments is the 1965 Brooks Act, legislation that opened government IT procurement to competition.
The act, which was not signed into law until 1972, mandated procurement competition, lowest price bidding and centralized management of IT. The law has been credited with helping to build the IT industry and for spurring innovation at government agencies.
In 2002, he was recognized by GCN as the top civilian executive of the last 20 years.
“I wanted the government to be on the leading edge of technology, and it is,” he said at the time.
While in Congress, he chaired the House Government Operations Committee and the Judiciary Committee. He introduced the Government Paperwork Reduction Act, and the legislation that created the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and independent inspector generals at major government agencies.
A life-long Democrat, Brooks was a protégé of fellow Texan, and long-time House Speaker, Sam Rayburn.
Brooks was in the motorcade in Dallas in 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated, according to his obituary in the Dallas Morning News.
While serving on the House Judiciary Committee, Brooks drafted the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon. Nixon later called him the executioner.
He was reelected to Congress 20 times, but was voted out of office in 1994 as Republicans took control of the House.
He was born Dec. 18, 1922, in Acadia Parish, La., and moved to Beaumont, Texas, in 1927. He lived there the rest of his life.
He and his wife had three children and two grandchildren.
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Dec 05, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Nov 26, 2012 at 9:03 AM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Nov 20, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Nov 19, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
The Defense Department on Nov. 15 announced personnel movements in its naval cyber and intelligence operations.
Navy Rear Adm. Samuel Cox will be assigned as director of the National Maritime Intelligence Center in Washington and as commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence at Ft. Meade, Md. Previously, Cox served as director of intelligence/J2 at U.S. Cyber Command, also based at Ft. Meade.
Joining Cyber Command will be Capt. Robert Hoppa, who has been selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half) and for assignment as deputy director of operations/J3, Cyber Command, at Ft. Meade, Md. Hoppa currently serves as director of the National Maritime Intelligence Center, Washington, D.C.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Nov 15, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Interested in being Federal Acquisition Service commissioner, but haven’t gotten around to polishing that resume? The General Services Administration just extended the deadline, but the window is closing fast.
GSA officials tweeted on Nov. 14 that applications are now being accepted until Nov. 16 on the USAJobs site. The agency has been advertising the open position since September.
The FAS commissioner is the senior executive responsible for the procurement side of GSA, and the primary advisor to the administrator and the deputy administrator on all FAS matters. The commissioner guides nearly $95 billion in government spending annually while driving FAS to find greater savings through high-value contracts.
Steve Kempf was the most recent commissioner, but he left the position in July for medical reasons. Mary Davie, assistant FAS commissioner for the Integrated Technology Services, has been standing in as acting commissioner since then.
Or do you want another job in the second Obama administration? Here’s some information on how to apply.
Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Nov 14, 2012 at 9:03 AM0 comments
Posted by John Klossner on Nov 13, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Arthur Money (left) and Peter Marino have joined the advisory board at Thinklogical.
Former Pentagon CIO Arthur Money is a founding member of a newly formed advisory board for Thinklogical, a provider of fiber optic-based peripheral routing systems.
Money was named Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence in 1999 and served simultaneously as DOD’s CIO, according to Thinklogical’s announcement. Having held other positions in DOD and in industry, he now serves as the chairman of the Outside Advisory Board for the National Security Agency and the FBI.
Money’s fellow founding advisory board member is Peter Marino, a longtime CIA official who is now chairman of the board of directors for TASC Group.
“We are honored to welcome Art and Peter as founding members of the newly established Thinklogical Federal Advisory Board," said Joe Pajer, president and CEO of Thinklogical. "We are growing very fast as a company, spearheaded by our tremendous success in the military, intelligence and homeland security sectors of the U.S. federal government.”
Posted by Michael Hardy on Nov 13, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
The woman who developed the State Department’s systems for measuring the effectiveness of public diplomacy efforts has joined a contractor that specializes in analytics and database systems for intelligence and national security projects.
Cherreka Montgomery spent five years at State, where she was director of evaluation and measurement in the Office of the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Since 2011, she had been with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, serving as the principal media spokeswoman for the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency.
In October Montgomery joined SAP National Security Services as national vice president for corporate development. In that role, SAP NS2 announced, Montgomery will “work with the intelligence community, Department of Defense, and systems integrators.”
While at State, Montgomery developed an integrated performance management plan to “measure and assess” the public diplomacy efforts that Karen Hughes began in the Bush administration, and that current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her team have continued and expanded. Before, Montgomery said, diplomats could point to anecdotal evidence of public diplomacy payoffs, but ultimately “you have to demonstrate return on the public’s investment… So I looked for ways to synthesize the strategy and performance.”
In an interview with FCW, Montgomery said that after years in government, the chance to develop public-private partnerships from the other side was too appealing to pass up. And based on her State Department performance-management projects, which relied on SAP software, “I’m a believer in the [these] solutions,” she said.
As someone who was only recently wrestling with budget limitations on the federal agency side, Montgomery said she is acutely aware of the effect sequestration could have on her new responsibilities. “We definitely want to avoid it,” she said, but “shrinking budgets are a reality. We have to be agile and be flexible.”
And agencies must do the same, she said – not just for fiscal reasons, but also to reflect today’s national security realities. “We face multifaceted threats,” Montgomery explained, “and we have to modernize our I.T. to identify and defend against those threats.”
Note: When originally published, this article incorrectly stated that Montgomery had worked at ODNI prior to the State Department, not after.
Posted by Troy K. Schneider on Nov 07, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Mark Drapeau, accompanied by a couple of friends, displays his Movember mustache in a picture he posted to Facebook.
Many men have grown mustaches for "Movember," an annual charity event that benefits organizations dedicated to men's health issues, testicular and prostate cancer in particular.
Some men who want to take part but can't or prefer not to grow a mustache come up with creative solutions. Microsoft's director of innovative solutions, Mark Drapeau posted his effort on Facebook, commenting, "I may not be growing a Movember mustache in real life, but at least I can pretend to have one on Facebook."
(Drapeau tells us this picture is actually from a gala in 2011.)
Posted by Michael Hardy on Nov 02, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
Capt. Carrie Hasbrouck, the new commander of DISA's Special Operations Command's field office. (Photo: DISA)
The Defense Information Systems Agency has a new commander in place in its Special Operations Command field office. Navy Capt. Carrie Hasbrouck assumed command on Oct. 19, DISA officials posted on the agency’s Facebook page on Nov. 2. While DISA did not immediately confirm where Hasbrouck is based, the DISA SOCOM field office is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. No further details on Hasbrouck or the assignment have been released thus far, according to a DISA spokesperson.
Back at the Pentagon, the Defense Department on Nov. 1 announced that Charles Beames has been appointed to the Senior Executive Service and assigned as principal director of space and intelligence in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics). Beams, who previously served in the same office as strategic advisor for space and intelligence, will be based in Washington, according to the DOD release.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Nov 02, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
David J. Wineland adjusts an ultraviolet laser, which he uses to manipulate ions as part of a research project. (Photo: NIST)
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics to David J. Wineland. Wineland is a physicist at the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and receives the award “for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems,” according to an Oct. 9 press release. This is NIST’s fourth Nobel Prize in Physics in the past 15 years.
Wineland, who said he learned of the award when Academy officials called his Colorado home at 3:30 a.m., shortly before making the official Oct. 9 announcement, shares the honor with French native and longtime friend Serge Haroche of the Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. Wineland holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is currently based in Boulder, Colo., as a NIST Fellow.
Posted by Emily Cole on Oct 09, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments
David Bennett has been named DISA CIO. (DISA photo)
The Defense Information Systems Agency has made changes in two posts key to the agency’s IT operations.
David Bennett has been named the new CIO of DISA, according to an Oct. 2 announcement from the Defense Department. Bennett previously served as the agency’s vice component acquisition executive.
Bennett was preceded as CIO by Henry Sienkiewicz, who served in the position since May 2010. Sienkiewicz has been named as DISA’s vice chief information assurance executive.
Posted by Amber Corrin on Oct 02, 2012 at 12:10 PM0 comments