News in Brief

Power outage, disaster data, FedRAMP approval and more

GSA Administrator and 2014 Government Eagle Award winner Dan Tangherlini

Administrator Dan Tangherlini said GSA would use a $35 million budget allocation to begin planning a civilian campus that would co-locate cyber incident response teams from multiple civilian agencies.

Power outage hits multiple agencies in D.C.

Employees at the Office of Personnel Management and the State Department were sent home to telework on Dec. 15 after a blown transformer at OPM caused power outages across several blocks of Washington, D.C.

Washington's Metropolitan Police Department announced that OPM offices had been evacuated, but no foul play was suspected. The Associated Press reported that the outage also affected the General Services Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Reserve, the Labor Department and the U.S. Park Police.

Power at the White House reportedly went out briefly as well, but a Pepco spokesperson said that incident was unrelated to the transformer problem at OPM.

Telework is now part of most agencies' continuity-of-operations plans, which have evolved significantly as cloud services and mobile devices make physical location less important for many federal workers.

White House unveils Disasters.Data.gov

Disasters.Data.gov, a collaborative resource for the emergency preparedness and first-responder community, was launched this week as part of the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative.

According to a Dec. 14 blog post on Data.gov, the new site is "designed to be a public resource to foster collaboration and the continual improvement of disaster-related open data, free tools, and new ways to empower first responders, survivors, and government officials with the information needed in the wake of a disaster."

The site was previewed at a White House Demo Day and marks the first in a series of Innovator Challenges that will be presented by the White House in the coming months.

The site contains information about dealing with severe winter weather, wildfires, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes, and is expected to add categories and content as the website expands.

Oracle cloud gets FedRAMP provisional authority to operate

Oracle's Service Cloud now has provisional authority to operate under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, the firm said Dec. 15.

The IT giant received the certification from the Joint Authorization Board, which is composed of CIOs from the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and the General Services Administration.

The firm is working "towards meeting our public-sector customers' demands for a highly secure, robust suite of cloud solutions built for government," said Aaron Erickson, director of government innovation in Oracle's public-sector division, in a statement.

Next DigitalGov summit is being crowdsourced

The General Services Administration is hosting a DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit in May 2015, but as of now, the agenda is still "TBD" because GSA is crowdsourcing the agenda, speakers and presentation topics, and building the event based on the responses.

GSA's DigitalGov.gov team has set up a crowdsourcing platform where users can suggest ideas and then vote for their favorites.

The theme for next year's event is "open," said Alycia Piazza, platform manager for DigitalGov.gov and program manager for DigitalGov University, in a blog post.

"We want sessions and [presentations] to focus on how 'opening' data, content, code, contracts and talent makes digital citizen services better, more effective or even cheaper," she wrote.

Proposals for sessions will be accepted through the end of January, and voting will take place throughout February. Selections will be based on a combination of voting and recommendations from a "sounding board" of digital government leaders, Piazza said.

GSA gets money for civilian cyber campus

Deep in the mountain of paper that is the $1.1 trillion hybrid omnibus appropriations bill and continuing resolution is $35 million for the General Services Administration to establish a civilian cybersecurity campus in the Washington, D.C., area.

GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini requested the money with the goal of combining some public-facing cyber incident response operations under a single multi-agency roof.

The $35 million is allocated under GSA's Federal Buildings Fund and is part of a larger pool of $509.7 million earmarked for construction and acquisition, sites and expenses, and associated design services.

In March, Tangherlini said the requested allocation would allow his agency to begin planning the design of a civilian campus that would co-locate cyber incident response teams from multiple civilian agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security and Justice. The request sought to move those teams out of more than 600,000 square feet of leased office space in the D.C. area and consolidate them in a yet-to-be-identified federally owned building in the region.

The plan is not part of DHS' ongoing headquarters consolidation at the St. Elizabeths campus in southeastern Washington.

GSA's Kevin Donahue to return to D.C. government

Kevin Donahue, director of the Performance Improvement Council at the General Services Administration, has accepted the post of deputy city administrator of Washington, D.C., under incoming Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Donahue previously worked for D.C. government under former city administrator Dan Tangherlini, who is now GSA's top official. Donahue followed Tangherlini into the Obama administration and served as Tangherlini's deputy at the Treasury Department and then at GSA.

Bowser said Donahue would be reviving the CapStat program he led under former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty. CapStat is a data-driven approach to delivering government services.

Sandia, Illini ink collaboration deal

The University of Illinois and the Energy Department's Sandia National Laboratories have signed a five-year agreement aimed at advancing collaboration and information sharing between the two organizations.

According to a joint statement, the agreement "aims to solve science and technology problems of national importance" by allowing the university's students and faculty to work at Sandia and allowing the lab to recruit top graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty.

The agreement also seeks to increase the transfer of new technology from Sandia to the university and on to the private and federal sectors.

"This partnership will help the University of Illinois establish a firm foothold in emerging technical arenas such as digital manufacturing and data science, and it provides Sandia a clear conduit to the technical and human capabilities on this campus," said Jeffrey Binder, director of the university's Applied Research Institute.

Sandia and university officials said they plan to significantly increase interactions between the two campuses by spring 2015. The Applied Research Institute will host Sandia at its facility in Champaign, Ill., while Sandia will establish a university outreach office on its premises in Albuquerque, N.M.

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