Fed and SLED IT Managers Are Buying Into AI

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

According to a recent study, 90% of public sector IT managers have observed a noticeable shift in the adoption of AI at their organizations over the last two years. The research report, “AI Is Out There: Early Adoption in Fed & SLED Agencies, ” explores government agencies’ interest in AI and seeks to understand current usage of AI technology in the public sector.

The study highlights IT managers’ and public sector leaders’ interest in gaining an edge by becoming early adopters of AI technology. Of surveyed respondents, 77% view AI as an asset to their organization’s ability to deliver on its mission, while 85% agree AI will be a game changer in how their agency thinks about and processes data. Some agencies have started to initiate AI pilot programs with 14% already reporting benefits from the technology. Currently, 61% of respondents report the use of at least one foundational AI technology such as voice assistants, high performance computing, and virtual customer assistance or chatbots. Read more of this post

CBP Plans Its Move to the Cloud

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently released an RFI seeking industry input on a comprehensive cloud solution that may lead to an RFP later this year or in early 2020. Cloud is a big topic of conversation at federal agencies, but right now, its bark is much larger than its bite. We can expect that to change over the next few years. As this new RFI shows us, agencies are looking to transition significant portions of their environment to the cloud. While traditional IT delivery models may still hold their value, cloud is the future.

CBP is the largest component within the Department of Homeland Security, and how it manages cloud may be indicative of how some of the smaller DHS agencies may also do so. Kshemendra Paul, DHS’s cloud officer, has indicated that only 10% of DHS applications are currently in the cloud. Another 30% are in process or are slated to move to the cloud. Most of what has already been migrated are easy-to-migrate applications like email. Large, mission-critical applications are still being hosted on premise and are likely to be the last of the applications to migrate. CBP will likely use the contract that results from this RFI to accomplish this migration.

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Spending Bills Provide Clues to NEW Federal Money

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

While there’s been political grandstanding around agency funding in the last few years, the current Democratic-led House committee is steadily advancing spending bills so that the full House can vote on them. Hopefully they’ll be sent to the Senate with plenty of time for negotiations, so they are on the President’s desk no later than October 1, 2019 (the start of FY20).

It looks like the House will be pushing several minibuses, or packages of spending bills, to the full floor over the next few weeks. In most cases these bills are significantly higher than the administration’s request, so agencies won’t be as cash strapped as they have the last few years.

While appropriations bills aren’t the best places to go hunting for opportunities, they do sometimes provide us some clues to new programs and initiatives starting up at agencies. Technology vendors might want to keep on top of these:
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Federal IT Needs a Culture Shift

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

At many of the events I’ve been attending around the beltway lately, a common theme in federal IT keeps coming up – culture as an impediment to change. Many of the CXOs I hear speaking all mention that to modernize outdated federal systems, the culture within an agency and around its technology has got to change.

That’s not to say that agencies are dismissive of their workforce, or that they don’t value their employees – on the contrary, many leaders recognize that their teams are the most valuable resource they have. But to transform federal IT, to unlock the value of data and to fully embrace the move to the cloud, agency IT leaders know they need to drag their workforce kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

At AFCEA Bethesda’s Law Enforcement and Public Safety Technology Forum, Sonny Bhagowalia, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Office of Information Technology at Customs and Border Protection, highlighted the five things that federal IT leaders need to take into consideration: Read more of this post

Data Centricity: The Heart of Federal IT

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

If there’s been a common theme I’ve been hearing lately, it’s data centricity.

It’s a fundamental shift in federal IT that’s been building for a few years that could have broad implications for the types of technology investments agencies will look to make in the future. Federal agencies are beginning to realize that not only is data their core asset, they know they need to make start making investments in the stewardship and utilization of that data. It’s not enough to just have data or protect data, that data needs to be operationalized and transformed from data to knowledge to action – and support the execution of the mission.

At an AFCEA Bethesda breakfast I attended in March, speakers from the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security affirmed the increasing understanding within their agency of the value of the data they capture throughout the course of their operations. It’s fair to note here that agencies have been talking about making better use of their data for years, but much like we’ve seen the slow and steady progression to cloud adoption, I believe we’re seeing a steady progression toward realizing the importance of data and turning it into actionable intelligence to enable the mission. Read more of this post

Huge New DHS RFI Presents Opportunity for Technology Vendors

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security released a huge RFI for Information Technology (IT) Compute and Storage Modernization, Cloud Migration, and Data Center Optimization that needs to be on your radar. At $6.8 billion, DHS has the largest IT portfolio in the civilian government, so the funding available for a project of this magnitude at the department is likely to be significant, which means there may be extensive opportunity for technology vendors.

It’s also important to note that only 26 percent of DHS applications have thus far migrated to the cloud or are in the process – so there’s still a lot of work left to do.

Here are some of the key technologies DHS is pursuing in this new RFI:

  • Embracing automation, DevOpsSec, and optimized resource utilization – to improve efficiency and agility to minimize data center and other infrastructure footprints
  • Moving to cloud-native shared services – to modernize applications and adopting a vendor agnostic multi-cloud approach to spur innovation
  • Making increased use of data analytics technologies – to improve cybersecurity and decision making

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What Sales Reps Can Do During the Government Shutdown

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

So, here we are, a week and a half after my last blog about the shutdown and half the civilian government is still shut down. By now you’ve likely heard the news that the Trump administration has made the decision to call about 50,000 federal workers back to work. The good news is, that means critical safety and security workers, like food and airplane inspectors, are back on the job. The bad news is, much like I mentioned in my last blog, many of them are doing more than one job with a lot of their colleagues still furloughed. And, they’re still not getting paid.

So, it’s likely you’re wondering what you can tell your bosses if you’re trying to sell into one of the agencies where workers are furloughed. First off, you need to let your boss know that your forecasted deals aren’t going to close right now because the contracting shops at these shut-down agencies are generally all non-essential personnel.

But just because your forecasted deals aren’t going to close doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can’t do. Reach out to your program manager customers (if they’re still working) and ask when they anticipate the deal moving forward once agencies get appropriations. Remember, things are piling up at federal agencies, so anticipate a bunch of pent-up demand once everyone gets back to work.

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