It was a whirlwind year in the world of federal IT, with the White House, Office of Management and Budget, and many agencies focused on cybersecurity, IT modernization, data center closures and optimization, and cloud adoption. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep track of technology developments, directives from agency heads and regulatory changes — and how agencies are responding to them.
FedTech is coming to the rescue. As we have for several years now (in 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012), we have compiled a must-read blog list for those in federal IT. The list is balanced pretty evenly between blogs we have recommended in the past and new entrants.
This year, there is a particular focus on blogs produced by think tanks and research organizations, which will be valuable in providing outside perspectives on the technology and cybersecurity policies the incoming Trump administration will pursue.
Be sure to bookmark this list and check back frequently to get quick access to a large repository of must-read blogs that provide up-to-date news and analysis on important federal IT trends — and how they will likely affect you and your job.
If you think we’ve missed a blog, please don’t hesitate to comment. And if your blog is one of the 50 we’ve chosen, grab a badge to display to your readers!
18F is the federal government’s digital services organization. The unit is part of the General Services Administration, and in May the GSA took steps to solidify 18F’s place into the federal bureaucracy by creating the Technology Transformation Service. The TTS houses 18F, the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, and the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. 18F’s blog highlights how it is working with agencies to enhance their digital services and how agencies can inject innovation into their organizations on their own. For those looking to learn how the government is pushing boundaries on open-source tech and making digital services more user-friendly, this blog is a go-to destination.
Adobe is probably best known for its suite of office and creative applications, including Photoshop, InDesign and Acrobat. As such, much of the blog is devoted to how government agencies can use Adobe tools to bring more creativity into their communications and services. However, the blog also focuses on data-centric cybersecurity solutions like digital rights management and digital signatures that can be used for authentication.
This blog is pretty straightforward, as its description makes plain: “Each week, host Jason Miller interviews federal agency chief information officers about the latest IT directives, IT challenges and successes.” Miller, a veteran federal technology journalist who writes for the blog’s parent site, Federal News Radio, uses insightful questions to elicit meaningful responses from federal IT leaders on a wide range of issues.
Although this blog (and Deltek in general) focuses heavily on government contracting, the blog also serves as a daily update on key issues affecting federal IT. Its daily GovWin Recon updates, produced by Deltek’s Federal Market Analysis team, give feds (and the contractors that support them) awareness and insight into federal IT trends and hot topics. The blog regularly highlights major developments in government technology, policy, budget and vendor activities.
Running a government bureaucracy is not directly analogous to business, but leaders like federal CIO Tony Scott and Anne Rung, the former federal chief acquisition officer, have worked to make it more efficient. IBM’s Business of Government blog looks at how government can operate more efficiently, with a heavy emphasis on leadership, innovation, acquisition and risk management. Contributors post items on category management, shared services and modernization. Also be sure to check in for its weekly roundup post, which collects the most important news for federal leaders.
Officially, this is the blog of federal CIO Tony Scott, but it also serves as a platform for other federal agency CIOs to share their thoughts and best practices. The blog’s primary topics are IT management and modernization. Use this blog to stay on top of major federal IT announcements and regular news roundups.
Although not explicitly focused on the federal government, Cisco Systems’ government blog regularly delves into hot-button federal IT issues, including cybersecurity, how emergency responders can better do their jobs in the digital era, IT modernization and cloud adoption.
Written by Kevin Jackson, a former Navy officer who has also worked for private companies that have engaged in federal IT contracting, this blog dives deep into cloud technology issues like interoperability and requirements for getting certified to work with federal agencies.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies is one of Washington’s premier think tanks. Its Strategic Technologies Program is run by James Lewis, who previously worked at the State and Commerce Departments as a Foreign Service officer and as a member of the Senior Executive Service. Part of his government duties involved developing policies for satellites, encryption and the internet, and Lewis is seen as one of the sharpest thinkers on the intersection of technology and government, especially around cybersecurity. Lewis writes many of the posts for the Strategic Technologies blog, which serves as a forum for leading experts to express their views on the latest developments in technology policy, including privacy, innovation, space and cybersecurity. The blog is a must-read for opinions on the new administration’s stance on tech policy.
@CSIS | Read the blog: https://csis.org/blogs/strategic-technologies-blog/
Although this blog is aimed at commercial CIOs, CISOs and chief technology officers, it does touch on tech topics that are highly relevant for public sector IT leaders, especially related to security. The blog has lately discussed cybersecurity for the public sector, President Obama’s cybersecurity commission report, security controls for Defense Department contractors and how private industry benefits from the experience of government officials.
This news feed from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency offers a regular update on the technologies DARPA is researching and investing in, while giving hints at the defense-related technologies of the future. Although it’s less of a blog than a newswire, it does offer insight into technologies DARPA thinks are relevant and promising.
The Defense Department is one of the world’s largest bureaucracies and is the biggest consumer of IT in the federal government, especially in terms of cybersecurity. Defense Systems is one of the premier sources of news and analysis on defense-related IT, including security, analytics and mobile technology.
This blog, formerly the EMC Public Sector Blog, offers Dell EMC executives’ take on key government IT issues, including data-driven cybersecurity, data center optimization and IT modernization. As these issues continue to dominate the discussion in 2017, be sure to check in for updates on how the debate is evolving.
The Department of Homeland Security has a large and varied mission: protecting the country, the nation’s critical infrastructure and its computer networks from attacks. The agency’s Science and Technology Directorate focuses on how to best use tech to fulfill that mission. The S&T blog is a mix of public awareness announcements on how DHS is using technology and a space to track tech developments in areas like robotics and cybersecurity.
Agencies’ use of tech goes beyond network infrastructure, servers and mobile devices. User experience is increasingly becoming a major factor in how the government delivers services to citizens. DigitalGov offers a wide range of commentary and updates on how agencies can use UX, social media, SEO and mobile apps to improve their digital services. It also collects digital marketing news from across the internet and packages it specifically for agencies working on digital initiatives.
The Navy’s CIO, Robert Foster, maintains this blog to share news about the service branch’s technology advancements and conferences. While the blog has a large emphasis on cybersecurity, it also offers curated federal IT news and updates on defense technology and privacy.
FCW’s The Spec blog focuses on what’s coming next in federal IT, with a heavy emphasis on defense-related technology at civilian agencies and in the military. Beyond the blog, the larger FCW site is an all-encompassing news source on federal technology trends and developments.
@FCWnow | Read the blog: https://fcw.com/blogs/the-spec/list/blog-list.aspx
Blue Coat Systems, which Symantec acquired in August 2016, is squarely focused on cybersecurity. Its Federal Blueprint blog is a great source for federal IT pros to learn about cyberthreats, risk management, malware, encryption and other security topics. For cybersecurity pros, this is a great place to turn to for practical advice.
@BlueCoat | Read the blog: https://bluecoat.com/company/federal-blueprint-blog
This blog focuses on the specific needs and perspectives of federal IT practitioners, covering a variety of tech topics such as Big Data, cloud, cybersecurity, infrastructure and mobility. Federal Technology Insider offers updates on how agencies are adopting technologies like cloud, and also addresses more practical concerns such as how to combat shadow IT.
Focusing mostly on leadership topics — CIOs, IT management and strategy — Federal Times doesn’t offer mere speculation; it reports on the key issues that will directly affect federal IT leaders and managers. The site offers lots of hard-hitting news and original reporting, and is a must-read for anyone working in a federal CIO’s office.
This blog, from the General Services Administration’s Federal Risk and Authorization Management program, which authorizes cloud service providers to operate across the government, is aimed at giving agencies more information on current and future FedRAMP projects. FedRAMP has undergone major changes in 2016, and the blog serves as a way to disseminate updates to the program — and its plans for the future.
Security is always top of mind for many federal IT pros, and GovInfoSecurity does not stint on news and analysis that, more often than not, focuses on the intersection of commercial and government cybersecurity concerns. In addition to news, the site has a video library, infographics, events and white papers.
Unlike many federal IT blogs that focus on hot topics like cybersecurity and cloud adoption, GovLoop instead spends most of its time discussing day-to-day issues that keep government moving: project management, workplace concerns, and IT tools to name a few. The community, which is composed of more than 200,000 members, is active and engaged.
The analysts at immixGroup do a thorough job of explaining the what and why of federal IT policies and priorities, from the shift to automation at the Defense Department to category management for mobile services and how IT might change in the new administration. The site is a valuable resource for contractors and those who follow the government’s technology investments.
This blog, exclusively written by Mary Davie, assistant commissioner for the General Service Administration’s Office of Information Technology Category, gives a sharp and unique perspective on government IT acquisition. The blog is a great destination for information and updates on the government’s efforts in category management and innovations in IT procurement.
There are few areas within the federal government that have undergone more innovation and change in the last several years than healthcare and health IT, spearheaded by the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS IDEA Lab (aka the Office of the Chief Technology Officer) focuses on how to bring innovation to HHS itself. IDEA (Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship and Action) Lab “promotes the use of innovation across HHS to better enhance and protect the health and well-being of the public.” The blog chronicles how the IDEA Lab is encouraging technology experimentation to make HHS more efficient and responsive.
Often, federal IT policy is directed through the executive branch, but Congress sometimes plays a critical role in setting long-term tech policy, with legislation like FITARA. Lawmakers are likely to play a key role next year in shaping how the government approaches IT modernization. The Hill is an indispensable resource to keep on top of what’s happening on Capitol Hill. The site’s technology section offers plenty of news and analysis on policy and regulatory news as well as cybersecurity developments.
IBM’s government team has a long history of working the federal government; its blog reflects those decades of experience. The blog posts cover a wide range of issues, from hybrid cloud strategy to how government can use blockchain technology and the future role of cognitive computing. Check in regularly to stay on top of how industry and government are collaborating.
@IBMGovernment | Read the blog: https://www.ibm.com/blogs/insights-on-business/government/
Xerox’s government blog covers topics like document management, analytics and payment solutions. For federal IT decision-makers who are hunting for resources and ways to engage with the private sector, this blog is a valuable resource.
Although Intel’s government blog does not deal strictly with federal government policy, it’s still a key focus. The blog provides an opportunity for Intel to sound off on topics ranging from cybersecurity to closing the talent gap in federal IT and technology modernization.
(ISC)² is an international nonprofit membership association focused on enhancing cybersecurity protections. The organization’s blog focuses on a range of cybersecurity issues relevant to federal cyber professionals, and gives members a forum to exchange ideas, inform, and inspire their peers.
This blog, sponsored by GovTech, is written by Dan Lohrmann, an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist, keynote speaker and author. He is currently the chief strategist and chief security officer for Security Mentor. The blog touches heavily on federal cybersecurity issues but also other tech topics, including augmented reality and the Internet of Things.
@govcso | Read the blog: http://www.govtech.com/blogs/lohrmann-on-cybersecurity/
MeriTalk, a public-private partnership, organizes some of the best federal technology events in Washington, and its blogs are a must-read for federal CIOs and IT leaders. Its Situation Report blog provides a weekly update on key tech issues facing the government.
@MeriTalk | Read the blog: https://www.meritalk.com/category/situation-report/
A major government partner, Microsoft uses this blog to share news from around the public sector and to discuss how the company is working with government agencies. Although it does not focus exclusively on the federal government, the blog discusses a host of Microsoft solutions that feds use, including cloud tools and analytics. The posts, which also focus on solutions for public safety and the Internet of Things, are written by Microsoft’s tech leadership team, which is working in the trenches to improve government IT solutions.
This blog offers timely insights in defense-related procurement and technology. It is the online version of National Defense, the magazine published by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), a key trade association for the United States government and the defense industry. It will definitely be a site to follow to see how the Trump administration’s policies will affect the Defense Department and defense-related tech.
@NationalDefense | Read the blog: http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/default.aspx
Part of the Council on Foreign Relations' stable of blogs, Net Politics focuses on the international implications of cybersecurity policy, and will likely be a go-to destination to track how the incoming Trump administration’s cybersecurity stances will develop and play out in the rest of the world.
Nextgov is one of the most robust and well-informed federal IT news sites on the internet. Offering up-to-the-minute news stories, the site covers a wide range of tech trends and areas, including IT leadership, cloud, cybersecurity, mobility and emerging technologies like virtual reality. It’s the definition of a must-read.
Known in federal IT circles as OSTP, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has a mandate to advise the president on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. OSTP’s blog delivers some of the best stories and most pressing news for easy reading in one place. The blog covers everything from quantum information science to nanotechnology and increasing diversity in the STEM workforce.
@whitehouseostp | Read the blog: https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/blog
Ever since the White House launched Project Open Data in 2013, the Open Government Initiative Blog has been keeping tabs on its progress. The project’s scope is wide, and so is this blog’s coverage.
This blog from network and enterprise security vendor Palo Alto Networks focuses heavily on cybersecurity and how the federal government can protect its networks while defending against threats like ransomware.
@NGS_Gov | Read the blog: http://researchcenter.paloaltonetworks.com/government/
For federal cybersecurity pros, reading Politico’s Morning Cybersecurity report daily should be as essential as a cup of coffee. The rundown is full of the latest and most relevant news on cybersecurity and politics. These short and informative briefs often include links to longer, more in-depth stories. If you haven’t already, we recommend you subscribe now.
@MorningCybersec | Read the blog: http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-cybersecurity
The RAND Corporation has been one of the most well-known policy think tanks for decades, originally designed to offer research and policy recommendations to the U.S. armed forces. Although its mission has broadened over time, the science and technology section of its blog focuses largely on defense-related issues and technologies.
@RANDCorporation | Read the blog: http://rand.org/blog.topic.science-and-technology.html
Within the Washington IT community, the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association is well known for putting on events that highlight how the military branches are approaching tech policy. AFCEA’s SIGNAL blog explores ways to bring industry and government together, mirroring a key goal of the organization. The blog offers a variety of posts on cybersecurity, defense and intelligence as well as a wealth of multimedia resources like webinars and white papers.
When the Office of Management and Budget called on federal agencies to embrace transparency in 2009, NASA responded. NASA has since released tens of thousands of data sets and dozens of Application Programming Interfaces to the public. The blog offers updates on NASA’s open data initiatives and challenges.
With a tagline of “Technology, policy and gadgets, plus the occasional lightsaber debate,” this Washington Post blog sets itself up as a blog focused on the intersection of technology and public policy, with a lighter side. This is a great read to stay on top of tech policy and how it affects — and is shaped by — federal agencies.
The Federal Trade Commission’s tech blog sits at the intersection of technology and consumer protections, focusing on the privacy implications and consumer concerns of mobile and internet technologies in particular. If you’re interested in those issues, this is a must-visit destination.
The Brookings Institution, one of the most well-respected Washington think tanks, offers a great deal of analysis on technology policy. Its TechTank blog focuses on new developments in science and technology policy and how they affect health care, education, economic development, innovation and governance. The blog often touches on tech policy that agencies like the FCC are carrying out, or the future of health IT in the new administration.
Tenable Network Security’s blog highlights content that is the company’s bread and butter: cybersecurity. The blog largely focuses on cybersecurity priorities, cloud adoption, how government and industry can work together and modernizing federal IT.
How does the Agriculture Department use data, analytics and technology to help farmers and increase agricultural production and efficiency? It’s a key focus for the USDA, which uses this blog to highlight the department’s wide-ranging projects with news and announcements.
Although the site focuses mostly on IT contracting in the federal government and less on the tech behind the contracts, it is a valuable resource for staying on top of federal IT spending and priorities.