News and notes from around the federal IT community.
MyUSA coming soon -- again
MyUSA, the single-sign-in service for federal websites, is getting closer to being launched.
The goal is to have one place where users can log in to access federal websites and save profile information rather than re-entering the same data multiple times. The service has been on the drawing board for some time.
President Barack Obama touted the capability, a project of the Presidential Innovation Fellows, in a July 2013 speech. The General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies sought comments on the program in August 2013 -- just a few months before the ill-fated launch of HealthCare.gov. After that, the fellows and other digital experts were working full time on the health insurance portal, and projects like MyUSA fell to the wayside.
Since then, GSA's digital expertise squad 18F has taken over the project. In January 2014, Deputy Executive Director Hillary Hartley said MyUSA would launch within months.
This time, it looks like they really mean it -- probably. In a May 18 blog post, Kate Garklavs, an innovation specialist at 18F, said MyUSA was just weeks from being launched.
Rather than a username/password login combination, MyUSA will use open authorization, which accepts existing Google or other credentials rather than requiring new passwords. After signing in via MyUSA, users can then navigate through federal agency offerings such as grants, loans and small-business information.
The site will suggest resources for users based on their profile information and geographic location, according to Garklavs' blog post. However, the service will not link users with personal or financial data stored in federal databases, such as Social Security accounts.
Contractor IT challenges have a familiar ring
Federal contractors face many of the same nagging questions that their agency customers do in dealing with IT, project management and cybersecurity, according to a new study by Deltek.
The company's sixth annual GovCon Industry Study states that top IT challenges for federal contractors are IT and data security, budget pressures, and managing multiple systems for their own operations. Almost a quarter of the more than 300 companies that responded to the survey ranked IT and data security as their top challenge.
Therefore, as federal vendors move applications into the cloud, their initial efforts have focused on less sensitive data such as social media and human resources applications. Like their government customers, some contractors are struggling with moving more sensitive accounting and finance applications to the cloud, said Kevin Plexico, Deltek's vice president for research.
The study notes that although company executives have been reluctant to put financial data in the cloud, cost savings and other benefits have spurred them on.
Project management, procurement and manufacturing applications were at the bottom of their cloud applications list.
Despite the move to cloud services, more than 50 percent of the companies surveyed had no cloud plan, said Warren Linscott Jr., vice president of product strategy and management in Deltek's GovCon group.
That reluctance could be a result of increasing concerns over cybersecurity when companies shift sensitive data outside their own operations and confusion about cloud definitions and services such as third-party hosting and software as a service, Linscott said.
Issa bill pushes open standards for financial regulators
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is following up on the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 with a new bill that would require financial regulators to collect structured, machine-readable data from the banks, publicly traded companies and other firms they regulate.
The goal of the Financial Transparency Act of 2015 is to tap open data to support efforts by regulators to use analytic software to uncover risk and fraud while giving companies that are subject to regulation the ability to automate some of their reporting procedures for different agencies.
The bipartisan legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.).
The act would apply to the nine agencies that constitute the Financial Stability Oversight Council: the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Treasury Department, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Data that must already be published by law would be released under new, coordinated standards set by the Office of Financial Research at Treasury. The goal in part is to make sure that data is searchable across agencies.
The bill takes special aim at the SEC by extending open-data standards to reporting on mutual funds, investment adviser reports, submissions from ratings agencies, and other disclosures, registrations and filings.
Currently, the SEC collects quarterly financial filings from public companies in data and document formats, although there are efforts underway in Congress to roll back data collection for smaller firms.
GSA pitches 'cloud one-stop shop'
The General Services Administration has been busily stocking its bin of cloud services since the end of April, according to Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of the Office of Integrated Technology Services.
Davie wrote in a blog post that on April 29 her agency began designating cloud solutions with Special Item Number 132-40 on its IT Schedule 70, making the schedule a "cloud one-stop shop."
The cloud SIN has several sub-categories, including software as a service, platform as a service and infrastructure as a service.
Davie encouraged industry suppliers to submit proposals to be included as IT Schedule 70 cloud SIN partners and pointed them to online instructions on how to develop and submit proposals.
She added that federal agencies will see a growing list of cloud options that use the SIN as GSA adds other suppliers in the coming months.
"Agencies will be able to go to eBuy and GSA Advantage to search for 'SIN 132-40' and locate cloud options, suppliers, pricing for further action and negotiations, and [to] make purchases," she wrote.
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