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FCW Insider: Sept. 20

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos steered clear of the $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract out for bid in his Sept. 19 remarks to the Air Force Association's Air Space Cyber conference. But he did include a pitch for the importance of commercial technology -- particularly Amazon Web Services -- to defense activities. Bezos said custom requirements are "for when you really need special sauce, where there really shouldn’t be a commercial avenue." He said the growth of AWS has been driven both by commercial firms and government institutions including CIA and DOD using cloud services.

The key to continuous improvement is the large number of AWS customers that provide feedback and data that improves the product over time, Bezos said. He also talked about how large organizations, like the Air Force, can succeed at innovation.

"Velocity is so important," he said. "And in large organizations, it is about decision-making," and to get it right requires "scale and nimbleness." Balancing those two attributes can be done by leaving reversible decisions to small teams or individuals and kicking up only irreversible, or high-consequence, to top leadership to be calculated slowly and deliberately. Senior leaders can empower individuals and teams at lower levels to make decisions.

"If you get it wrong it's ok," Bezos said. 'We'll just back up and do it again"

Also at the Air, Space Cyber event, DOD Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan sought to allay fears that the proposed Space Force will be funded at the expense of the USAF Space and Missile Command. Lauren C. Williams has the story.

The Pentagon also released a long-awaited cyber strategy that includes an emphasis on defending American infrastructure from foreign cyber hostilities, as well as safeguarding DOD networks and DOD information on non-DOD systems. Lauren has more.

It sounds like the plot of a CSI: Cyber spinoff, but the FBI has tapped the expertise of the three young operators of the dreaded Mirai botnet to help solve crimes and mediate cyberattacks as part of the terms of their plea agreement. Derek B. Johnson explains how the hackers are helping law enforcement.

Quick Hits

***What do federal chief data officers actually do? According to Jane M. Wiseman, a senior fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the CDO role varies widely from agency to agency. "There are not two CDOs in the United States with the same job description," Wiseman said in a Sept. 19 presentation at the Predictive Analytics for Government conference in Washington, D.C. She found that just three of the 10 largest civilian cabinet-level agencies had a CDO: Transportation, Agriculture and Health and Human Services. Her research showed investments in data governance and data quality pay big dividends, and the report recommends that new CDOs start with open data programs. It offers six tips on standing up a CDO office, including that every federal agency should have a CDO or other leader tasked with overseeing its data, and that the agency should carefully choose to whom the CDO will report .

***The solicitation for the hardware portion of the Navy's massive enterprise IT contract NGEN hit the street Sept. 18, per a FedBizOpps notice. The Next Generation Enterprise Network is "one of the largest combined networks in the world," according to the contracting notice, spanning 400,000 devices and 600,000 users at some 1,600 locations. The value of the hardware portion of the contract is estimated at $250 million, with the much larger services piece expected to hit $3.5 billion. The NGEN hardware contract is expected to be awarded by June 30, 2019, and offerers have until Nov. 19 of this year to submit their bids. According to Washington Technology's Nick Wakeman, the recompetes bear watching because of all the mergers and acquisitions activity in the federal IT services space since NGEN was originally launched in 2011.

***Two recent House bills aim to make it easier to access judicial records online. The Electronic Court Records Reform Act of 2018 from Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), introduced Sept. 6, eliminates fees charged by the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) database, which collects and archives federal court filings. Currently, PACER charges 10 cents per page with a maximum charge of $3 per document. There is no charge for judicial opinions. The Collins bill also directs the federal judiciary enforce a five-day window between a document being filed in a court and it appearing on PACER. The bill also mandates the addition of court audio and video to PACER, requires that documents be machine readable and searchable and seeks an update that allows outside sites to link directly to specific documents on PACER. Currently, the system permits users to search under specific fields like case number, attorney name and party name.

PACER reforms also figure into the Judiciary Reforms, Organization and Operational Modernization Act of 2018, introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Sept. 10. The bill includes a new requirement that PACER files include exhibits that can be readily digitized, and that judicial opinions be presented in machine-readable format and shared with the Government Publishing Office. The bill also sets up internet streaming requirements for federal courts, with video required from appeals courts in real-time and maintained for two years. The Supreme Court would be required to post audio of oral arguments on the same day they take place within one year of the enactment of the bill; after two years, the high court would be required to stream live oral arguments.

***The Department of Homeland Security wants to alert network operators to a menu of DHS resources available for keeping systems patched and up to date. In an Sept. 18 blog post, Jeanette Manfra, the assistant secretary of the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at the National Protection and Programs Directorate, lists free, publicly available programs useful for entities that are building or maturing their vulnerability management functions.

*** The General Services Administration and the Marine Corps have signed a Performance-Based Agreement that sets a Partnership Agreement Council to help the Marines get IT products and services more effectively. GSA and Marine Corps officials announced the agreement, which was finalized in late August, in a Sept. 18 blog post. The partnership council, GSA said, will conduct quarterly meetings to share information, optimize supply chain operations, identify ways to modernize IT systems and realize cost efficiencies in the delivery of goods and services.

Posted on Sep 20, 2018 at 1:27 AM


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