Top Federal Civilian Cybersecurity Trends in FY21

By Jessica Parks, Market Intelligence Analyst

With the recent Solarwinds breach, IT vendors who sell to the government may be wondering about its impact on their customers’ needs. Federal civilian agencies have already made cybersecurity a top priority for FY21, so while the breach by itself will not directly spur significant new initiatives or projects, it still emphasized the urgency of getting defenses up to speed.

With fresh awareness around cybersecurity gaps, there has never been a better time to check on your government customers and help them fulfill their security needs. Read on for a high-level overview of the top 3 trends in federal cybersecurity for FY21.

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Finding Strategic Opportunities in Flat Federal IT Budgets

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

While federal agencies are currently making do with their FY20 budgets for IT, the end date for the current continuing resolution looms on December 11. A few agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, have requested a significant uptick in FY21 IT funding for large ongoing projects. However, for other agencies such as Treasury, Justice and Homeland Security, IT funding will remain steady or even drop a bit.

It is important to keep in mind that “steady” does not automatically equal a drop in opportunities. The mission continues regardless, and the focus is going to be on working smarter and more efficiently. Here are three focus points to consider when your customer is looking to squeeze every drop out of a flat IT budget.

1) Automation and Machine Learning Solutions

Departments across the entire federal government, both defense and civilian, are already incorporating automated solutions to make their employees’ lives easier. To work within tight budgets and (sometimes) shrinking workforces,  departments are automating business processes, parts of customer service operations and some cyber operations. The goal is not just speed, but also efficiency and accuracy. Read more of this post

Top 3 FY21 Opportunities at the Department of Education

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

With another busy year end in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look to FY21. While large agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services always attract attention due to their budgets and high-visibility projects, it’s important to remember that other agencies across government also require your assistance to deliver, innovate and economize.

One such agency, the Department of Education, has requested $5 million for FY21 to establish a Working Capital Fund, showing that accelerating IT modernization will be a priority. Read on for the top 3 areas poised for significant investment.

1) NextGen Federal Student Aid (FSA)

Located in the Office of Federal Student Aid, this approximately $1B program seeks to improve the experience of external customers (such as students) in their interactions with FSA. The program covers a myriad of areas, from business process management to cybersecurity to data management and analytics. High on the list for FY21 are mobile solutions, self-service tools (think machine learning and AI solutions) and records and content management.  Read more of this post

Two Areas of Growth for Cloud Solutions in FY21

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

With the federal government on track to invest $7.1B in cloud technologies by the end of FY20 (according to Bloomberg), the cloud migration train is chugging right along with no signs of stopping. While it may seem like there is endless opportunity in the federal market for PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS-related solutions, you will still want to maintain a strategic and targeted approach. As always, you will want to have at least a baseline idea of where your customers are at in their cloud journey, but you will also want to keep an eye on the following two areas where agencies will be looking for your assistance in FY21.

Data Management and Sharing

With the ever-increasing flow of information, how to manage, secure and transfer that data – especially the associated costs – continues to be a major concern for agencies. Chezian Sivagnanam, Chief Enterprise Architect at the National Science Foundation, stated in a Federal News Network webinar back in March that in the future, IT teams will be “focused on moving data, not servers.”  Read more of this post

Two New Sales Opportunities at Commerce That Are NOT Census-Related

By Jessica Parks, Market Intelligence Analyst

Don’t let the Department of Commerce’s understandable focus on the 2020 Census distract you from other sales opportunities within the cabinet-level agency. The need for better data analytics is opening up initiatives at two of its sub-agencies, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Fundamentally, both USPTO and NOAA have requirements around the processing, management and analysis of large volumes of data. If your technology can help them meet these requirements, you will have a foot in the door for a procurement you and your competitors may otherwise have missed.   Read more of this post

Beyond Border Security: FY21 Trade-Related Opportunities at CBP

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), under the Department of Homeland Security, is widely known as the organization that secures our nation’s borders, but they also regulate goods entering and leaving the country through the Office of Trade (OT).

CBP receives almost 30% of the DHS IT budget, and while it’s always looking to enhance the border infrastructure, there are a few major trade-focused technology programs that have been moving forward with big plans of their own. Read on to learn what those programs are and what they’re looking for. Read more of this post

The State Department’s Data-Driven Future

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

In January of this year, the State Department made headlines when it established its Center for Analytics (CfA) to manage and analyze data across the entire department. The formation of an enterprise-level analytics center is a significant move for what has traditionally been a highly decentralized organization. It also reflects a broader goal at to better harness and apply its troves of data.

If you’re looking to get in on the action, read on for a couple of areas worth targeting in FY21.

Analytics to Improve Administrative Functions

Under Chief Information Officer Stuart McGuigan, IT systems at the agency are viewed in terms of business output, especially in how they support operational functions like workflows and onboarding. Speaking at an AFCEA Bethesda event in April, he described how the State Department is exploring robotic process automation (RPA) to speed up the onboarding process for new employees and further empowering back office staff.   Read more of this post

2 Myths About Federal Data Center Optimization

By Jessica Parks, Market Intelligence Analyst

One major initiative driving IT modernization at federal civilian agencies continues to be the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI). This program impacts every civilian agency and continues to influence broader modernization efforts. Agencies are making progress, some (such as Department of Justice) more so than others, and they continue to incorporate their optimization goals into their budget and strategic planning.

Do you know where your target agencies are at in this process? If you are still formulating your strategy, here’s some high-level myth-busting to guide you. Read more of this post

TIC 3.0 Is Shaping Government Network Security to the Edge

By Jessica Parks, Market Intelligence Analyst

In an increasingly interconnected world, we often take for granted the availability and security of networks whenever we sign on to our devices. Agencies are now taking a closer look at the bandwidth and security of their networks and the Department of Homeland Security has been ahead of that curve — working on updating its Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) policy.

Draft guidance on TIC 3.0 is in process, with new documents expected to be published this spring. TIC policy aims to standardize security rules for networks, so you can bet federal agencies will be paying close attention to this guidance as it is released. Here is a look at TIC 3.0 and what it means for you.

Security Moving Out

With more agencies moving away from traditional network perimeters and into complex cloud environments, TIC 3.0 is defining where to secure these networks. One thing is for sure, as TIC 3.0 Program Manager Sean Connelly pointed out at the FCW Cloud Security Workshop in February, TIC 3.0 is moving security tools towards the users and applications themselves.   Read more of this post

FY21 Civilian Budget Request: Look Past the Budget Cuts

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

The president’s fiscal year 2021 budget request has been released, and while you may be laser-focused on this year’s sales, you can bet your government customers are already thinking about next year’s priorities. While the nearly across-the-board cuts at the civilian agencies are grabbing headlines, a deeper dive reveals a treasure trove of high-level plans at a few of the biggest agencies. Factor the following into your FY21 strategy:

Department of Homeland Security

DHS is the top civilian spender on IT and there are some definite growth areas in the agency for FY21. FEMA stands out as a fertile ground for IT vendors as the agency looks to tackle multiple large projects in FY21:

  • Continuing to develop a single cloud-based grants management platform
  • Updating its legacy financial management system
  • Bolstering the efforts of its Enterprise Analytics division to improve infrastructure and data analytics 

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