News in Brief

VA secretary approved, Chopra promotes his book and more

Robert McDonald

Robert McDonald is President Barack Obama's nominee to run the Department of Veterans Affairs

VA nominee wins committee approval

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved by voice vote July 23 the nomination of Robert McDonald to head the Veterans Affairs Department. A spokesman for committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said a Senate vote on McDonald could come as soon as next week.

In his confirmation hearing July 22, McDonald, a former Procter & Gamble chief executive and graduate of West Point, described P&G’s digitization of its operations as an experience he could apply to the VA.

Sanders agreed with that assessment in a statement after the committee vote, saying the nominee’s time at the helm of Procter & Gamble “gives him the tools to create a well-run and accountable VA.”

Former U.S. CTO promotes government data, new book

Although the cloud, robotics, modeling simulation and other fast-developing technologies could dramatically shape the federal IT environment, opening up government's vast stores of data to the public and to other agencies will probably be the most influential technological development, according to the first U.S. chief technology officer.

Open data capabilities, said Aneesh Chopra, make the vast stores of government data machine friendly. That relatively simple concept, he said in an interview with FCW, could lead to huge changes in both the government and in private industry. Data is the fuel for growing new industries and in evolving more effective government services, he said.

Chopra will be discussing the idea and his new book, "Innovative State, How Technologies Can Transform Government," at 6 p.m. July 24 at Capital One Labs, 3030 Clarendon Blvd., in Arlington. The event is free.

In-Q-Tel invests in tech to voice-enable apps

GCN reports that Expect Labs has closed a strategic investment and technology development agreement with In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the intelligence community.

San Francisco-based Expect Labs is the creator of the MindMeld API, the first developer platform that makes it possible for any company to build intelligent, voice-driven interfaces for any app, device or website, according to an Expect Labs announcement.

Through the partnership, Expect Labs will apply its MindMeld API to voice-enable a wide range of potential applications for use across government agencies.

Wired: DoE net speeds data at 91 gigs per second

This past November, NASA’s High End Computing Team used ESnet -- the Department of Energy’s shadow network -- to achieve a record-breaking data transfer of 91 gigabits per second from Denver to Greenbelt, Md., without a direct connection, Klint Finley of wired.com reported.

“This demonstration was about using commercial, off-the-shelf technology and being able to sustain the transfer of a large data network,” according to Brocade Sales Director Tony Celeste, whose company provided the equipment used in NASA’s test.

ESnet -- short for Energy Science Network -- was created by the DoE in 1986 with the purpose of supporting cross-country data-rich research projects through high-speed connectivity, and its network is believed to be the fastest of its type -- outperforming the average internet connection’s speed by about 9,000 times. Gregory Bell, ESnet’s director, has said that “Our vision for the world is that scientific discovery shouldn’t be constrained by geography,” and his team has already begun work on a 400 gigabit per second network.

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