May 06 2008

Brief Byte: Borrowing From ODNI Innovation

Pooling information and analyzing it to detect possible terrorist actions drives much of the technology and data-mining work of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). But some projects have potential use beyond homeland security for IT shops across government.


In particular, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is at work on tools that can support data matching without revealing personally identifiable information (PII).

One technique IARPA teams want to bring to fruition is secure multiparty function evaluation. Matching algorithms — which agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration use to validate benefits, for instance — have the potential to let different agencies or the government and a private organization compute the results of a data match without sharing the underlying PII.

“Technologies that promote the responsible handling of private data can help build public confidence,” IARPA notes in a recent report to Congress. For instance, there’s VACE, or Video Analysis and Content Extraction. ODNI is developing applications to search video files for patterns or for specific events based on queries. Agencies that use streaming video for surveillance and physical security, research or project documentation could make equal use of such tools.


What’s Holding Back Telework?

Most agencies have written telework policies (68 percent) and provide IT support (56 percent), but most government employees don’t telework.

A survey of 550 feds and 273 government systems officials issued in early spring reports that only
17 percent telework, and of that group, the largest portion (30 percent) does so less than one day a week.

Fact: $700,000 The commuting expenses collectively saved annually by the 51% of National Science Foundation employees who telework
SOURCE: NSF and Telework Exchange survey of 1,044 employees, March 2008


Don’t Eat the Dirt

“Here’s an old Chinese proverb: A fall into a ditch makes you wiser. When it comes to data center energy consumption, we’re not too deep in the ditch to climb out, but we need to be wiser when we climb out.” — David L. Bibb, deputy administrator and new senior environmental officer, General Services Administration



Off the Shelf

What: Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirkey
Recommended by: John Suffolk, CIO, United Kingdom
Why: It decodes social networking. This notion of Government 2.0 has “the potential to help us find solutions to problems we’ve not even thought about yet.”
Takeaway: “Internet and social-networking tools are a simple way to bring people together around core values and to understand what hot-button issues your constituents really care about.”

What: Getting to Know You: Rules of Engagement for Political Appointees and Career Executives by Joseph A. Ferrara and Lynn C. Ross
Recommended by: Doris Hausser, 30-year federal employee who retired last year as senior policy adviser to the director of the Office of Personnel Management
Why: Written for the 2004 presidential transition, this report “is a particularly useful product that will be very timely in the next few months.”
Takeaway: “It’s got some good tips and good experience on how to bring political appointees and career civil servants together and get them talking.”