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FCW Insider: April 15

The Government Accountability Office's new science and technology shop is designed to restore to Congress some of the analytic and forecasting capacity it had in the days of the Office of Technology Assessment. But the structure and outlook of GAO may make it difficult for the office to pivot to a new role. Chase Gunter takes a look.

Lawmakers are worried about more bureaucracy, overlap and some missing pieces in the Trump administration's Space Force plan. Lauren C. Williams explains.

Federal agencies are finding success with data center consolidation, but they could be moving faster and saving more money, according to a recent oversight report. Mark Rockwell reports.

Quick Hits

*** The General Services Administration's $50 billion, next-generation telecommunications contract is key to the Department of Homeland Security's drive to make the agency's networking and computing more coherent across agency components, according to Stephen Rice, deputy CIO.

"It's well understood" that the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract "will drive down costs and provide consistent delivery" of data, Rice told FCW after his remarks at the agency at an AFCEA D.C. luncheon on April 11. During his presentation at the event, Rice said simplicity is far better than complexity when it comes to networking. To leverage EIS, the agency has to balance network simplicity with mission requirements, he said. Rice said his agency is currently analyzing responses to a request for information about how to proceed with a next-gen solution.

Last fall, CIO John Zangardi said DHS had selected two options for the transition to EIS. The first is a straightforward "like-for-like" plan to upgrade telecom circuits, and the second is focused on modernizing end points in the agency's networks using virtualization.

*** As agencies look to the future with proposed budgets and new plans, the Government Accountability Office is reminding them not to forget about unfinished business. The watchdog agency released a series of reports reiterating outstanding recommendations for improvement that have not yet been delivered by agencies.

For the IRS, GAO highlighted a range of problems that have yet to be addressed, from fighting tax fraud and shoring up IT system security to putting better bureaucratic controls and procedures in place and improving procurement and acquisition practices.

On the fraud front, the IRS has not followed through on three recommendations to boost the effectiveness of its primary fraud detection system, the Return Review Program. GAO pressed the agency to improve its capabilities further, recommending it expand the program's applications to include examining individual tax returns that don't claim refunds, looking into digitizing paper returns and incorporating incoming W-2 data more frequently.

Other recommendations include developing a plan for implementing changes to the agency's online authentication programs, better aligning with guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and updating controls and verification procedures for cybersecurity improvements.

*** The State Department's aging legacy IT systems are also in GAO's crosshairs, with auditors reiterating in another report that the Secretary of State should direct the CIO to develop a modernization plan in line with Office of Management and Budget guidance. State officials have said they intend to have a plan in place by the end of fiscal 2019.

The agency could also stand to improve its data quality for foreignassistance.gov, a website detailing U.S. funding for foreign aid. GAO wants State officials to work with OMB and the U.S. Agency for International Development to review the information streams it relies on and develop additional guidance that takes into account current challenges the site has with getting verified data.

Posted on Apr 15, 2019 at 12:59 AM


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