Technology Revving Up at Department of Commerce

Tom O'Keefetechnical financial graph on technology abstract backgroundBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

There’s a lot happening in IT at the Department of Commerce right now, from preparing to count the U.S. population to conducting research on weather.

But, perhaps the most significant new thing is a shift in the mindset of the IT organizations throughout the department as they strive to set standards for the latest and greatest technologies. Communicating with mission owners and agency executives and conveying the value of IT spend is a top priority.

It’s not enough anymore to just take the requirements and deliver an IT system. Agency IT leaders are collaborating more closely than ever with their business and finance peers to argue the value of every dollar spent. I just released a new webinar on these IT trends at Commerce, which you can view here.

But first, let’s take a look at where and how this is happening across Commerce. Read more of this post

Blockchain is all the rage and now government is interested

Tom O'KeefeblockchainBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

Everyone’s piling on blockchain as the hip buzzword of the year. Companies that have inserted blockchain in their name have seen their stock prices rise, and simply mentioning that blockchain is part of your technology can be a surefire way to secure investment from venture capital firms.

And now, the federal government is getting in on blockchain, with a recent NIST draft publication highlighting where and when blockchain could be valuable. And federal agencies are paying attention.

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3 opportunities in the president’s budget

Tom O'KeefeBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

We all know the administration recently released its FY19 budget request. Despite the fact that the president’s budget is effectively dead on arrival, particularly with Congress reaching a budget deal for the remainder of FY18 and FY19, there still may be some worthwhile pieces of information to be gleaned from it. (It should be noted this budget deal does not mean agencies received appropriations, and we’re still operating under a continuing resolution through March 23.)

While the priorities of Congress and the administration won’t always line up, there are places where there may be a general level of agreement on what spending might look like for the next year and a half.

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Why government needs help getting smarter at the edge

Tom O'Keefeinternet of things, intelligent edgeBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

One of the major emerging topics in government is how to best analyze data gathered from the ever-increasing amount of sensors at or near the edge, rather than bringing it back to large data centers where the majority of compute lives. There are many questions around how the public sector starts to use this data and whether they can make informed decisions on the ground.

immixGroup hosted a panel discussion on this very topic at the recent Government IT Sales Summit. Panelists, including Ian Doyle, executive security advisor for IBM’s Security Business Unit, and Ashish Parikh, vice president of IoT platforms at Arrow Electronics, discussed the evolution and transformation of IT at the edge.

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Want to sell cloud? Here’s what you need to think about

Tom O'KeefeBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

Cloud has been a topic of conversation for years now in cloudfederal circles without a great deal of meaningful movement. Government is still heavily reliant on legacy infrastructure stacks and is making slow but steady progress to shuttering those systems and moving the applications that rested on them into different types of cloud environments.

But the cloud market is largely defined by a few major players – the behemoth that is AWS, Microsoft Azure and subscription models for popular pieces of software like Microsoft Office, Adobe and Salesforce.

This can leave a reseller or technology OEM at somewhat of a loss as to how to proceed, so here are a few tips and tricks when thinking about cloud:

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Is government starting to live on the intelligent edge?

Tom O'Keefemobility, government, intelligent edgeThe proliferation of smart phones and other mobile devices is finally starting to be felt by the government.

By December 2016, mobile traffic made up 43 percent of traffic to government websites, up from 36 percent the year before, according to a study by Digital Government. The government expects this trend to continue, but what does this shift mean for both government and citizen end users?

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New cyber authorities in new DHS legislation

Tom O'Keefecybersecurity, department of homeland securityBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

A bill that has just made its way through the House would finally reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security, which has only been authorized once, in 2002.

There are several cyber provisions included in the House bill, which could mean a lot of opportunity for cybersecurity vendors if it ends up passing in the Senate (where it has, unfortunately, stalled before). But there’s a good chance that even if the bill doesn’t pass, we’ll see some of the additional authorities and responsibilities making their way to DHS components anyway.

Most of the specific provisions in the bill of interest here are ones that require certain components to own responsibility for cybersecurity of various locations. For example, the Transportation Security Administration would be responsible for assessing the cybersecurity of aviation systems, including airports and airlines, developing an information sharing project across the airline industry and assessing the vulnerabilities of the systems that house TSA PreCheck.

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3 technologies law enforcement will need this year

By Tom O’Keefe, consultantTom O'Keefe

Law enforcement agencies are facing a myriad of challenges today, and they’ll be looking toward new technologies like artificial intelligence to help meet mission needs.

That was the message from government panelists at this week’s AFCEA Bethesda’s Law Enforcement & Public Safety Technology Forum. While the challenges raised by government are nothing new, interest in new solutions to these problems was expressed by leaders from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

Each of these solutions has one common theme: ways in which law enforcement agencies can better manage, integrate and understand the massive amounts of data they collect in their day-to-day operations.

Read more of this post

5 DHS opportunities in the president’s proposed budget

Tom O'KeefeBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

One of the few civilian agencies that likely won’t have its budget cut is the Department of Homeland Security. What’s less clear is exactly how the funding breaks down for DHS components.

The Trump administration’s plan to direct more funds to Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement by heavily reducing the budgets of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Transportation Security Administration are likely non-starters for congressional appropriators.

However, looking at the FY17 budget amendment and the FY18 budget request, we can get an idea of where some additional technology opportunities might appear at the department. The FY17 budget amendment requests $3 billion extra for DHS, with a third of that going to CBP to begin construction of the border wall. The FY18 “skinny” budget has a few more clues for where we might see increased investment at DHS:

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4 ways to show NASA some love

Tom O'Keefenasa_021417By Tom O’Keefe, consultant

The next few years could be interesting for NASA, especially if the Trump administration tries to take aim at its climate observation work. But that won’t necessarily stop the space agency from continuing to innovate, embrace new technologies and continue its move toward the cloud.

In fact, while there have been recent challenges within the agency, particularly concerning cybersecurity, expect NASA to continue its role as a standard-bearer for new technologies within the federal government.

So what does that mean for IT vendors? Well to understand how to appeal to NASA, it’s important to focus on how to better enable its science and engineering mission. Here are some areas to focus on:

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