FedTech Magazine - Technology Solutions That Drive Government https://fedtechmagazine.com/rss.xml en How Agencies Can Leave Legacy IT Systems https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/how-agencies-can-leave-legacy-it-systems%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>In 1969, the <a href="https://www.ihs.gov/" target="_blank">Indian Health Service</a>’s new electronic health record system was considered cutting-edge. Although that system has evolved over the years, much of its underlying software code is still decades old, in desperate need of an upgrade.</p> <p>The latest iteration, ­co-developed with the <a href="https://www.va.gov/" target="_blank">Veterans Affairs Department</a>, manages clinical, administrative and financial operations. Although it has the amenities of a modern EHR, such as seamless electronic workflow, information sharing and patient portal access, they’re not adequate. It’s also not very user friendly.</p> <p>“In 2004, we added a graphical user interface, but some modules still have a command prompt, DOS-like green screen,” says IHS CIO Mitchell Thornbrugh, whose agency has embarked on a multiyear modernization effort.</p> <p>The federal government operates with a good amount of legacy technology, and agencies are attempting to modernize the antiquated IT to improve performance, security and operational efficiency as well as reduce costs.</p> Wylie Wong https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/how-agencies-can-leave-legacy-it-systems%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E How to Innovate While Overcoming Budget Challenges https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/how-innovate-while-overcoming-budget-challenges%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>In its <a href="https://federalnewsnetwork.com/budget/2020/02/va-hhs-sba-among-biggest-winners-in-92b-it-budget-request-for-2021/" target="_blank">fiscal year 2021 budget proposal</a>, the Trump administration is requesting nearly $92.2 billion for IT, which would be about $200 million above the level Congress set for fiscal 2020, including $52.9 billion for civilian agencies and $39 billion for defense.</p> <p>However, the administration is proposing a $13.8 billion cut to federal research and development spending in its fiscal 2021 budget, despite a clear focus on 5G wireless networks, artificial intelligence and quantum computing. </p> <p>In these days of tight government money and massive government projects, some federal agencies are finding that their budgets are being reallocated in ways they had not expected. For example, <a href="http://space.com/nasa-mars-sample-return-2021-budget.html" target="_blank">NASA would see its budget jump</a> 12 percent from the last fiscal year to $25.2 billion, <a href="https://www.cnet.com/news/nasa-budget-proposal-soars-to-25b-with-half-that-for-moon-and-mars-campaign/" target="_blank">but, as CNET notes</a>, “about half of that amount, or nearly $13 billion, would go to programs leading toward crewed missions to the moon later this decade, seen as a precursor to eventual missions to Mars.” </p> <p>Money that used to be marked for IT modernization and simple upgrades to existing systems can sometimes be shifted to larger, more public-facing projects. </p> <p>However, agencies have ways of overcoming these challenges through the way they approach innovation and procurement. </p> Brett Schambow https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/how-innovate-while-overcoming-budget-challenges%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E Q&A: CIA’s Juliane Gallina Drives Innovation at Langley https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/qa-cias-juliane-gallina-drives-innovation-langley%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>In April 2019, Juliane Gallina stepped into the role of CIO at the <a href="https://www.cia.gov/index.html" target="_blank">CIA</a>, the nation’s premier intelligence agency. Gallina served for 21 years in the Navy, held a variety of positions at the <a href="https://www.nro.gov/" target="_blank">National Reconnaissance Office</a>, and was most recently a partner and vice president at <a href="https://www.cdwg.com/content/cdwg/en/brand/ibm.html" target="_blank">IBM</a> U.S. Federal.</p> <p>Her blended public/private sector background provides a solid foundation for an agency that has been using more commercial technology to achieve its mission.</p> <p>In a recent interview at CIA headquarters, Gallina spoke with <em>FedTech</em> Senior Editor Phil Goldstein about her experience, the use of AI in the intelligence community and the agency’s unique “franchise” model for IT innovation.</p> <h2><strong style="color: #c74037;">FEDTECH: </strong>How do you think your multilayered background informs the way you approach your job? </h2> <p><strong>GALLINA:</strong> When I was offered the position of CIO, I thought it began to make sense of my eclectic background. I felt like each one of those phases of my career at that point could contribute in a unique way. The Navy experience was formative for me, because I grew up in the Navy. I said the oath for the first time when I was 17.</p> <p>In my early Navy career, I was very blessed because I had opportunities to learn the craft of intelligence while deployed. </p> <p>In that case, it was signals intelligence, the equipment that you use to exploit that, to capture it, collect it, exploit it, process it, disseminate it, report on it. That whole lifecycle was like Intelligence 101.</p> <p>The NRO experience was really understanding for the first time how national security investments, major system acquisitions, can have a direct impact on your national security strategy and help win the Cold War.</p> <p>At the NRO, I came to work with people who were brilliant technologists, engineers, and fell in love with that craft, came to know the CIA through that lens at the NRO.</p> <p>The industry experience was about metrics, in that, in business, unlike any other place, you are held accountable by metrics every day, every week, every month. And you either make it or you don’t. It taught me a lot about being held accountable, how to hold other people accountable. </p> Phil Goldstein https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/qa-cias-juliane-gallina-drives-innovation-langley%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E Technology Readiness Levels: When Is Technology Safe for Adoption in Federal IT? https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/technology-readiness-levels-when-technology-safe-adoption-federal-it-perfcon%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>Federal agencies are testing and deploying new technologies all the time, from <a href="https://fedtechmagazine.com/article/2019/11/va-uses-telehealth-give-veterans-care-they-need-distance" target="_blank">telehealth</a> to <a href="https://fedtechmagazine.com/article/2020/01/assisted-intelligence-vs-augmented-intelligence-and-autonomous-intelligence-perfcon" target="_blank">artificial intelligence</a>. But how do agency IT leaders know when a technology is mature enough to move from a pilot program to a wider deployment? And how can agency leaders be sure that the technology will not harm the mission once it is out of the lab and in the field? </p> <p>Agencies can now turn to the recently released “<a href="https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-20-48g" target="_blank">Technology Readiness Assessment Guide</a>” from the Government Accountability Office to help them determine when technologies they are testing are ready and mature enough for deployment.</p> <p>Timothy Persons, chief scientist and managing director of GAO’s science, technology assessment and analytics team, says that technology readiness assessments, or TRAs, are not very widespread in the federal government, though they have been used for a few decades. The approach was pioneered by NASA to ensure that rockets and other mission-critical technologies used for the space shuttle and other objects sent into orbit were mature enough to go on the launchpad.</p> <p>The Defense Department and military services have also been using TRAs, but now the guide can be used by a wide range of agencies. “We see patterns across all of these areas of government,” Persons says. “We seek to create a tide that raises all boats. We want to see a better practice of risk management, particularly when very large dollar amounts are on the line.”</p> Phil Goldstein https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/technology-readiness-levels-when-technology-safe-adoption-federal-it-perfcon%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E Look for These 4 Chances to Save During IT Improvements https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/look-these-4-chances-save-during-it-improvements%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>It’s a common story in IT: An agency must run servers that are 5, 6 or 7 years old (including equipment that is no longer supported by the vendor) because there’s no room in the budget for a full upgrade. But organizations that plan carefully may be able to achieve tangible, ongoing cost reductions as a result of infrastructure upgrades if the IT department knows where to look. Here are four areas that all organizations should explore:</p> <h2 id="toc_0">1. Consolidate IT Resources </h2> <p>No-cost data center assessments by third-party providers almost always uncover opportunities to consolidate resources — which, in turn, reduces costs. Modern servers and storage appliances have become so powerful that it’s common to accidentally overprovision resources, and some organizations are paying for infrastructure that they’re not using. </p> <p><a href="https://fedtechmagazine.com/article/2019/10/follow-5-rs-rationalization-effective-cloud-migration" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM FEDTECH: </strong>Follow the 5 R’s of rationalization for an effective cloud migration.</em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_1">2. Move "Cold" Data to a Lower Tier of Storage </h2> <p>As storage needs grow, IT shops tend to simply build out more capacity without giving much thought to what resources are needed for the job. As a result, many companies are paying for Tier 1 storage solutions to store files that they seldom access. By moving this “cold data” to a lower tier of storage, organizations can often cut costs without negatively affecting performance.</p> <h2 id="toc_2">3. Use Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery</h2> <p>Many agencies still do disk-to-disk backup and use tape for secondary purposes — costly, complex processes. With more cloud backup and Disaster Recovery as a Service options, agencies can use the cloud for backup. Cost analysis is tricky: Cloud options may appear to be more expensive, but a more modern backup solution can provide a better ROI.</p> <p><a href="https://fedtechmagazine.com/article/2019/12/4-ways-prepare-government-apps-cloud" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM FEDTECH:</strong> Discover how to determine how applications will perform in the cloud before migrations. </em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_3">4. Analyze the Cost of Running Workloads in the Cloud </h2> <p>Agencies are often skittish about moving too many resources to the public cloud too quickly, motivated by horror stories of peers that moved to the cloud, only to come back in-house after the service proved costly. By analyzing the cost of running workloads in the public cloud and comparing that with the expense of managing onsite solutions, agencies can pick cost-effective infrastructure models.</p> Eric Gill , Ajay Parmar https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/look-these-4-chances-save-during-it-improvements%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E Edge Computing Brings the Cloud to the Data https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/edge-computing-brings-cloud-data%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>The federal government is riding the beginnings of a tectonic shift in computing architecture — one that will <a href="https://fedtechmagazine.com/article/2019/02/edge-computing-air-force-and-fema-take-advantage-intelligent-edge-perfcon">put smarts and storage out at the network’s edge</a>. Current cloud infrastructure places applications and storage on distributed servers accessible anywhere.</p> <p>Driving the change are 5G networks that promise improved data throughput and lower latency.</p> <p>“Reality is based on computational capacity at the edge of the tower and the ability to move apps in that infrastructure from tower to tower,” says Steve Wallace, systems innovation scientist, emerging technologies at the Defense Information Systems Agency.</p> <h2 id="toc_0">Edge Computing Lets Feds Make Use of Data Faster</h2> <p>Edge computing could make it possible to deploy an Internet of Things device; add artificial intelligence, computation and storage; and take the action far from the center of the cloud. That’s important on the battlefield, where disruptions in communications are unacceptable.</p> <p>Another driver is the plummeting cost of sensors, leading the military to push for systems that integrate and track reams of data ­coming directly from war fighters and their equipment as well as smart munitions.</p> Randy Barrett https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/edge-computing-brings-cloud-data%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E How Your Agency Can Effectively Implement DevOps https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/how-your-agency-can-effectively-implement-devops%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>The stereotype of the federal government as a stodgy, behind-the-times operation when it comes to technology and software development is no longer as tethered to reality as it may have been in decades past. </p> <p>Increasingly, agencies are adopting a DevOps methodology to develop applications. DevOps encourages software developers to work with IT operations staff on testing and quality assurance to develop software more quickly and automate infrastructure changes. It’s a collaborative mentality designed to produce software faster and more efficiently. </p> <p>There are numerous benefits to shifting to a DevOps mindset inside your IT shop. DevOps allows agencies to bring agile practices to bear on both development and operations. The approach boosts communication and collaboration between the two teams, accelerates the development process and gets projects to end users in a timelier manner.</p> <p>“I think that across the board, in order to deliver and meet the standards our citizens are seeing from a commercial standpoint, our agencies are having to move forward and adopt more rapid methodologies,” Phoebe Nerdahl, the public sector lead for software development firm Atlassian, <a href="https://federalnewsnetwork.com/innovation-in-government/2020/01/citizen-expectations-driving-agencies-move-to-dev-ops/" target="_blank">recently told Federal News Network</a>. “The whole idea behind DevOps is to combine agile methodology with continuous delivery. This will enable you to produce better products, better processes, have leaner organizations and teams so you can scale to meet the needs of your mission today.”</p> Marty Spain https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/how-your-agency-can-effectively-implement-devops%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E DISA Makes Progress on ‘Fourth Estate’ Network Modernization https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/disa-makes-progress-fourth-estate-network-modernization%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>Roughly a fifth of the Defense Department’s mammoth budget is devoted to the “fourth estate,” the defense headquarters, support agencies and activities not inside the military departments. For more than a year, the Pentagon has been pushing to consolidate the networks for the fourth estate and is now making progress. </p> <p>The Defense Information Systems Agency, the DOD’s IT services arm, has been working on moving to a new, single-service network called DODNet. DISA has been shifting its own IT support services to the consolidated network and will spend the rest of the year moving the first agencies to it. </p> <p>The Defense Technical Information Center, which holds the collective research and engineering information for the DOD, will be the first of 14 agencies to migrate, David Bennett, the director of DISA’s operation center, said last month, <a href="https://fcw.com/articles/2020/01/16/fourth-estate-mod-disa.aspx" target="_blank">according to <em>FCW</em></a>. The migration will occur by the end of the third quarter this year, according to Bennett. </p> <p>“We’re already maturing our existing networks, what we call DISANet, and we’re basically maturing it to become DODNet,” and so it can be extended to other fourth estate agencies, Bennett told reporters following the AFCEA DC DISA event on Jan. 16.</p> <p><a href="https://fedtechmagazine.com/article/2019/12/how-defense-logistics-agency-benefits-rpa-technology" target="_blank"><em><strong>MORE FROM FEDTECH: </strong>Discover how the Defense Logistics Agency benefits from robotic process automation. </em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_0">DOD Aims to Standardize Apps for Fourth Estate</h2> <p>The DOD aims to save $170 million per year via the consolidation, <a href="https://federalnewsnetwork.com/reporters-notebook-jason-miller/2019/05/disa-eyes-170m-in-savings-from-fourth-estate-consolidation-program/" target="_blank">as Federal News Network reports</a>. The network consolidation and optimization is expected to take four years and is designed to “standardize the look, feel and implementation of common desktop applications but not mission applications,” <em>FCW</em> reports. </p> <p>The consolidated network is also expected to cut costs and cybersecurity risks, according to <em>FCW</em>, while streamlining implementation and encouraging agencies to use enterprisewide DOD capabilities, Bennett said. “We have basically trumped up the 20-some-odd defense agencies into groups in terms of which ones can we go quickest with versus which are the ones to push to the back end of the queue because of the size, complexity, as well as some of the unique aspects of activities that they do,” Bennett said. </p> <p>“We’re really trying to become that IT enabler for those agencies to move into a common way of doing things and into a common technical approach,” he said.</p> <p>Tony Montemarano, the executive deputy director of DISA, said last May that that over the next decade, the agency will bring together the networks and commodity IT of the 14 defense agencies, including the Defense Logistics Agency, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Health Agency, according to Federal News Network. </p> <p>“We are taking the commodity IT of 13 other fourth estate organizations and bringing them together with DISA — not mission IT, but the desktops, the business applications — and trying to bring them together, the contracting and personnel,” he said.</p> Phil Goldstein https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/disa-makes-progress-fourth-estate-network-modernization%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E How Agencies Can Secure a Mobile Workforce https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/how-agencies-can-secure-mobile-workforce%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>Millennials, the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, often evaluate jobs based on technology-driven criteria that rarely occurred to previous generations. Federal agencies are trying to accommodate these under-40 workers with badly needed tech skills.</p> <p>But along the way, agencies and workers might also be compromising something more important: security.</p> <p>Federal executive branch civilian agencies reported more than 35,000 cyber incidents in 2017, <a href="https://www.gao.gov/key_issues/ensuring_security_federal_information_systems/issue_summary" target="_blank">according to the Government Accountability Office</a>. That number will rise if agencies do not secure the endpoint devices that workers like to use.</p> <p>A 2018 <a href="https://image-us.samsung.com/SamsungUS/samsungbusiness/solutions/industries/government/03082018/ClosingtheGapsinFedEndpointSecSamsung.pdf" target="_blank">CyberScoop/FedScoop and Samsung survey</a> found 33 percent of federal workers rely on personal laptops, 49 percent rely on personal smartphones, and 74 percent use personal tablets. </p> Todd Gustafson https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/how-agencies-can-secure-mobile-workforce%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E Election Security 2020: How to Protect Election Data and Voter Information [#Infographic] https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/election-security-2020-how-protect-election-data-and-voter-information-infographic%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>Voters provide the foundation for the nation’s election system, not just in their actions, but in their names, addresses and Social Security numbers — information that is tempting bait for malicious actors who want to affect an election’s outcome.</p> <p>Secretaries of state and local boards of election attempt to protect their voter databases as closely as possible, even as they must keep that information accessible to temporary poll workers, election officials and state officials who need it to do their jobs.</p> <p>A voter database lives in many locations — the site where a citizen actually registers, the board of elections itself, the electronic poll books at polling places on Election Day, websites where the public can go to check registration status or find election results. Like any system with multiple endpoints, security efforts focus on the data, not just the network.</p> <p>No matter what kind of election is being held, be it for city council in a small town or president of the United States, protecting the network and databases that make voting possible is essential. Here’s a look at how it’s done:</p> Elizabeth Neus https://fedtechmagazine.com/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/article/2020/02/election-security-2020-how-protect-election-data-and-voter-information-infographic%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E