News in Brief

Surface Pro is OK, program inventories are not, and more

Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 functions as a tablet and a laptop.

Microsoft tablet gets GSA go-ahead

Microsoft announced Nov. 3 that its Surface Pro 3 has met all the General Services Administration's criteria, opening the door for federal and state agencies to buy the device through GSA.

According to a Microsoft release, government technology leaders "have expressed interest in the way Surface can be used as an all-in-one device to help streamline operations."

The Surface Pro 3 can be used as both a tablet and a laptop, and Microsoft said the device can sustain security for sensitive data with Windows 8.1 while improving services and reducing costs for agencies.

"Government technology leaders share many of the same priorities as our commercial customers," said Cyril Belikoff, director of Surface marketing at Microsoft, in a blog post. "They are interested in how Surface can offer the power of a laptop and remove the need to carry an iPad, as well as help workers to be more productive on-the-go, thereby making the most of taxpayer dollars."

As another avenue for federal agencies, Microsoft has approved additional resellers to offer Surface Pro 3 to public-sector entities.

GAO slams program inventory process

Inconsistent methods have created a program inventory process that is no longer a useful tool for agency decision-making, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

GAO said the discretion permitted by the Office of Management and Budget has led to a variety of approaches for defining programs and inconsistencies in the type of information reported.

A 2010 law requires OMB to issue guidance on conducting inventories and publish a list of all federal programs on a centralized website. The 24 inventories developed by agencies in 2013 did not provide the program documentation and related budget and performance information required by the law.

Auditors found that agencies did not work together to define their programs, which made it difficult to compare inventories across agencies. GAO recommended that agencies coordinate with one another to identify similar goals and opportunities for collaboration.

GAO also recommended that OMB do more to hold agencies accountable for consistently identifying the goals each program supports and to work with stakeholders when developing or updating their program inventories.

GSA spreads government photo wealth

The General Services Administration is making it easier for the public to track down government photographs using its DigitalGov Search capabilities.

Ammie Farraj Feijoo, manager of DigitalGov Search, said in a blog post that the service is expanding to include more social media platforms because government content is no longer only published on official .gov websites. She said agencies post some of their best images on social media and in database-driven multimedia galleries on their own agency sites. Those sources, she added, can be treasure troves of information for the public.

DigitalGov Search has begun adding federal agencies' postings on Flickr, Instagram and YouTube to its search engine to make higher-quality, full-size images and videos available.

The agency also took an open-source approach to building the codebase behind the project.

Operation Predator app surpasses 100,000 downloads

More than 124,000 users have downloaded Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Operation Predator app aimed at tracking down child predator suspects.

ICE launched an iOS version of the app in September 2013 and expanded it to Android phones in October, when it also made a Spanish-language version available. People can use the app to receive alerts about predators and share information with friends via email and social media. Users can pass tips to ICE anonymously via the app, by phone or online.

Within three days of its launch in 2013, the app helped the Homeland Security Investigation's Detroit field office arrest a man who was later convicted on child pornography charges.

Pentagon curtails plan for expanding DIA overseas

In the face of congressional opposition, the Defense Department has curbed its plan to expand the overseas presence of its spy agency, the Washington Post reports.

In announcing the overseas Defense Clandestine Service in 2012, the Defense Intelligence Agency said it planned to send as many as 1,000 undercover officers abroad to work with the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command on national security issues such as counterterrorism, according to the article.

DIA cut that number in half, to about 500 officers, "after it became clear that the proposal could not secure enough support and funding from Congress," the article states.

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