On the Circuit: A blog about all things in government IT

Chronicling events, people, career moves and other news from the government IT community


The TechAmerica Foundation will host its fifth annual Defense Strategic Planning Forum at the University Club in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 25. Pierre Chao, managing partner and co-founder of Renaissance Strategic Advisors and a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, will moderate the discussion. Find out more at www.techamerica.org.

The American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council, or ACT/IAC, is accepting nominations to recognize information technology projects that showcase collaboration among government agencies and innovative use of technology to improve services for people. Projects must be operational and have measurable results to report. ACT/IAC presents the awards each year at the Management of Change Conference, which will be held this year May 23-25 at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia. Nominations will be accepted until Feb. 26. To nominate a project, go to www.actgov.org/ISAAwards.


Knowledge Management Conference and Exhibition
Cloud Computing Summit
Open Government and Innovations Conference
May 3-5, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Cory Ondrejka, a fellow at the Network Culture Project at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, will be the keynote speaker for the Open Government and Innovations Conference May 4-5 in Washington, D.C.

Ondrejka is a co-creator of Second Life, a 3-D virtual world where users can socialize, connect and create using free voice and text chat. His keynote address is titled "Open and Agile: Accelerating Change and Institutional Incompetence" and is described this way:

"The first decade of the 21st century has been a period of rapid change across media, technology, telecommunications and education. The next decade is going to move even faster and undoubtedly questions will arise such as: How can government institutions avoid irrelevance as the rest of the world builds on the increasing power and connections available to them? What lessons from product development need to be applied more broadly in our connected world?"

1105 Government Information Group is presenting the conference concurrently with two other conferences, Knowledge Management and the Cloud Computing Summit, to give participants the flexibility and freedom of a wide range of speakers, topics and networking opportunities.

For more information about 1105 Government Information Group events, go to www.1105govinfo.com/events.


A massive snowstorm could not stop Martha Johnson from being sworn in as the new administrator for the General Services Administration. She took the oath of office over the phone Feb. 7, just two days after the Senate confirmed her, according to a GSA spokeswoman. Acting Administrator Steve Leeds called Johnson at her home to administer the oath, with Johnson's husband serving as the official witness. Johnson was confirmed on a 96-0 vote in the Senate. (Two Republican senators -- Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Jim Bunning of Kentucky -- originally voted no on Johnson's confirmation, but each received unanimous consent to change their votes to aye shortly after the roll call was announced.)

Melissa Hathaway, former acting senior director of cyberspace in the Obama administration, received an award from the Internet Security Alliance for vision in cybersecurity. Hathaway conducted the administration's review of federal cybersecurity policy in 2009. The trade association's leaders gave Hathaway the annual McCurdy Award for those efforts and said in a statement that they believe that, if implemented, Hathaway’s recommendations will result in “a modern partnership between the public and private sectors, which is necessary for an effective and sustainable system of cybersecurity.”

The death of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) Feb. 8 opens one of the most powerful and coveted seats on Capitol Hill: chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee, which decides how the Pentagon spends its money. Early indications suggest that Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) is the most likely successor, but it could be weeks before the question gets an official answer from the House Democratic leadership. Dicks, first elected to Congress in 1976, is sometimes called "Mr. Boeing" because the Chicago-based aerospace giant has major operations in his state. He has long supported the company’s bid to build midair refueling tankers for the U.S. military.


Martha Johnson's nomination to be administrator of the General Services Administration was one of 63 presidential nominees whose progress through the Senate confirmation process had been stymied by Republican holds. In a statement that the White House released Feb. 11, President Barack Obama said he had met with Republican leaders and threatened to use his recess appointment power to bypass the Senate altogether if Republicans did not release the holds. Subsequently, the Senate confirmed Johnson and 26 other nominees, but the rest remain on ice.

"In most cases, these holds have had nothing to do with the nominee’s qualifications or even political views, and these nominees have already received broad, bipartisan support in the committee process," Obama said in the statement. "Instead, many holds were motivated by a desire to leverage projects for a senator’s state or simply to frustrate progress. It is precisely these kinds of tactics that enrage the American people."

Regarding the remaining nominees, Obama said he still reserves the right to use recess appointment power if the Senate doesn't take action on them soon.


Peter Mell, senior computer scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Computer Security Division, speaking at the Digital Government Institute’s Cloud Computing Security Conference Feb 2:

"In cloud computing, you typically don’t know or shouldn’t even care exactly where your processing is being done or exactly where your data is stored. Yes, I know you care which country it is in or which region of the U.S. it is in. But at a technical level, you don’t know or care where it resides [within that data center]. And you’re reaping great cost-effectiveness because you’re willing to give up that little bit of control [and] because you’re willing to reside on architecture that gives an appearance of homogeneity."


The Federal Emergency Management Agency is searching for a media services company that can deliver information from disaster areas via social media and local media news outlets. FEMA wants a small business to do the job, according to a contract solicitation posted on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site.

FEMA needs a media services company with experience deploying professional broadcast transmission equipment and crews to various locations throughout the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, according to the solicitation. But the winning applicant should be aware that FEMA plans to use the services before and after natural disasters, so don't count on getting bad-weather days off.


A side benefit for federal employees attending the FOSE trade show will be a free seminar, FEND @ FOSE, hosted by Federal Computer Week's sister publication, Federal Employee News Digest.

Mike Causey, Washington's best-known federal workforce journalist, will lead a roster of speakers that also includes Thrift Savings Plan Director Greg Long and Ed Zurndorfer, author of "Your Federal Retirement."

FEND @ FOSE is part of the FOSE trade show and is open to all FOSE attendees with no separate registration required. FOSE and GovSec/U.S. Law run simultaneously March 23-25 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. For more information on FOSE in general, visit FOSE.com. For more information on FEND @ FOSE, go to FOSE.com/fend.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.


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