FCW Insider: March 29

The latest news, analysis and other updates from FCW's reporters and editors.

At last night's Federal 100 Awards gala, Deputy Federal CIO Margie Graves won the 2019 Government Eagle Award.

Unisys CEO Peter Altabef won the 2019 Industry Eagle Award for stepping up to lead a "whole-of-nation" approach to cybersecurity. And Cisco's Alan Balutis was honored with the President's Award for his career-long contribtuions to the federal IT community.

A new task force and an interagency council are tackling supply chain issues, but the government shutdown delayed efforts to sync them up. Derek B. Johnson reports.

The federal government needs to fund change management efforts in concert with IT modernization, according to this FCW commentary from three leaders at Booz Allen Hamilton. They unpack five myths of change management that could be holding back policymakers from unlocking the full benefits of modernization.

Quick Hits

*** After weeks of waiting, federal employees will soon see their pay raise take effect, now that the White House has issued the executive order directing its implementation.

Early in March, Democrats wrote to the administration, urging them to implement the 1.9 percent raise approved by Congress as part of the spending agreement. The White House has proposed a civilian pay freeze in fiscal year 2020.

*** Proposals to the Technology Modernization Fund board have not slowed despite Congress appropriating less money to the fund for fiscal year 2019, according to Small Business Administration CIO Maria Roat.

On the sidelines of a March 28 Fedscoop event, Roat said the requests the board is receiving this year are similar to the ones it received last year -- projects like upgrading legacy systems, migrating from mainframes, getting to common platforms and adopting cloud.

Still, the $25 million Congress appropriated this year, compared to the $100 million it approved last year, means TMF deciders have tough choices to make.

"With $25 million, when you get projects that come in that are much more than that, okay, how much are we going to fund on this project? Are we actually going to do it?” she said. "So we have to balance, and know when the money [from last year’s projects] is coming in for repayment so we can send that back out there."

The White House budget requested $150 million for the central modernization fund for fiscal year 2020.

*** Acting Office of Personnel Management director Margaret Weichert said OPM would soon be issuing final regulations to implement the executive order on streamlining cyber hiring for the federal government. The regulation, would give agency heads more leeway in authorizing direct hire authority for IT and cyber roles.

*** The Defense Department isn't rushing to invest heavily in 5G technology. Michael Griffin, Defense Undersecretary for Research and Engineering, told Congress March 28 the technology is too young to be operationalized by DOD.

"What need needs to be understood despite all the hype is that 5G is in its infancy everywhere in the world," Griffin said at a March 28 House hearing. "It encompasses both standards and hardware and much of that is hardware that needs to be developed." The Defense Department is working on a 5G strategy, led by Deputy Research and Engineering Undersecretary Dr. Lisa Porter. But Griffin said DOD wants to and should be a part of the 5G solution but should not take charge of infrastructure deployment.

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