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FCW Insider: Oct. 19

Federal agencies are unevenly implementing a pivot to data driven policymaking . A bipartisan report on the subject spawned bipartisan legislation that passed the House but is languishing in the Senate. Now backers are looking to the White House for direction. Chase Gunter has the story .

Google recent bowed out of a bid for the Pentagon's $10 billion cloud computing contract citing in part concerns about ethical AI. At the same time, Google is at work on a search engine offering that could satisfy Chinese government censors as a condition of accessing the world's biggest market. Is that hypocrisy? In an Oct. 18 speech, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats didn't call out any companies by name, but he noted that vendors who have reservations about helping the U.S. government should extend those same concerns to foreign ventures. Derek B. Johnson reports.

A senior Army tech official told an crowd at an industry event that the Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud deal left plenty of room for the armed services and combatant commands to experiment with their own cloud strategies. Mark Rockwell was there.

Quick Hits

*** The Navy Department issued the long-awaited solicitation for the services portion of the Next Generation Enterprise Network Re-Complete for Service Management. The award ceiling is estimated at $250 million over a five-year base period with three one-year options, according to GovWin data. This portion of NGEN-R covers service integration, software build, help desk and cybersecurity. The contract covers the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the Marine Corps Enterprise Network and the Navy Enterprise Network outside the continental U.S.

The Navy split its multibillion NGEN contract into two portions for this solicitation. The hardware portion of NGEN-R was put out for bid on Sept. 17. Proposals are due from vendors Nov. 19.

"Separating IT services into multiple contract segments makes management, financial and competitive sense for the Navy," Capt. Ben McNeal, Naval Enterprise Networks program manager, said in a statement.

Bids are due from vendors on the services piece of NGEN on Jan. 10 of 2019.

*** As Congress reckons with how to approach national data privacy legislation, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration is working on its own principles for a federal approach.

Travis Hall, a telecommunications policy analyst at NTIA, said that after the passage in California of a strict data privacy law on the European Union model, "there is a completely different tenor and conversation, and a completely different urgency to want to see action at the federal level."

The challenge, he said, is "it's easy to agree in the abstract" about general data privacy principles, "but this stuff is really hard because once you get into definitions, when you get into small tweaks, it potentially … has greater impact on how businesses do business."

The Senate Commerce Committee has held multiple hearings recently on data privacy, and Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) has made the case legislation is necessary.

NTIA is gathering comments on its data privacy principles, and Hall noted the agency has been in communication "with lots of different [Capitol Hill] staffers" on an informational basis.

"One thing I do hope in federal legislation is that there will be some understanding and some scalability that is built in," he said. "Small businesses shouldn’t be trying to engage in the same level of compliance as others" based on their use of consumer data.

*** A new report from the New America Foundation on government innovation digs into the challenges that are holding back digital government. Getting the Work Done: What Government Innovation Really Looks Like is based on interviews federal, state and local government technology experts, including former Deputy Chief of the U.S. Digital Service Erie Meyer, former head of the Veterans Affairs Digital Services Office Marina Martin, Code for America founder and Executive Director Jen Pahlka and former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer Beth Noveck. The report makes the case that it isn't technology that is holding back modernization as much as siloed business processes and acquisition challenges.

"These are the early days" of government modernization practice, the report concludes. "Many of the essential structures that exist in other fields are missing. Career paths are muddled or missing. Professional development is spotty. Jobs tend to be clustered around fellowships or senior to middle management, excluding spots for entry level workers or executives. Practitioners don’t have obvious ways to meet and swap lessons learned. We don’t even really have a name."

Posted on Oct 19, 2018 at 3:15 AM


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