Nov 05 2013

Building Strength in Numbers

Agencies are finding that unifying IT operations can help them overcome serious obstacles and accomplish their missions.

United we stand. Agencies are finding that this old saying can help them overcome serious obstacles and accomplish their missions.

Across government, efforts to unify operations are yielding noteworthy results. Several articles in this issue put this trend on display. Notably, the article How Enterprise Security Operations Centers Strengthen Agencies’ Cyberdefenses details how several cabinet agencies are improving their overall security posture by establishing enterprise security operations centers. Unifying security efforts fosters the sharing of information between operating units about both the threats they face and the tactics to mitigate them. For example, the Agriculture Department has adopted a ­security information and event management tool to compile data from a variety of sources.

“We wanted it all to work together and feed into a single SIEM tool, the end goal being a single pane of glass to see what is going on and be able to do analysis from that one portal,” says Christopher Lowe, USDA’s chief information security officer.

Efforts to compile data are having success in other areas as well. The article Taking a Byte Out of Crime explains how Big Data efforts are helping law enforcement agencies connect the dots on criminal cases. Agencies are even using the technology to practice predictive policing — identifying potential crimes before they happen.

Healthcare agencies also are unifying their efforts, resulting in integrated electronic health records. By implementing IEHRs, agencies such as the Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services departments can improve patient care, yielding better health outcomes and quality of life. For their stories, see Unleashing the Power of the Electronic Health Records.

Meanwhile, efforts to consolidate federal data centers, examined in the article Data Center Consolidation Is More Than a Numbers Game, are achieving far more than ­reductions in the number of server closets that agencies run. In their efforts to meet the goals established by the Office of Management and Budget, agencies are optimizing performance and reducing energy and real estate costs.

Despite a recent climate in which unifying can be a challenge, these agencies have proved that its benefits are plentiful.