Key Opportunities in Electronic Records Management

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

Good news for those who have been trying to sell solutions that facilitate digital government. A little over 2 months ago, OMB and the National Archives (NARA) issued memo M-19-21, informing federal agencies that they must manage all permanent and temporary records electronically by 2022. While this memo is not out of the blue – it was built upon the previous M-18-12 directive – it does lay out a specific timeline for agencies to follow.

Here are a couple of key technologies playing a role in the government’s transition to fully electronic records and how you can approach potential customers.

Automation
Automation will likely play a big part and may even free up agencies to explore emerging technologies such as AI. As agencies face a large volume of records to digitize and then manage, technology that reduces the amount of manual work will be a plus. For example, CMS recently implemented a robotic process automation-based tool to review medical records for Medicare payments. In combination with AI and ML algorithms, this tool has drastically reduced the time it takes to find the necessary data, from about one hour per document to just one minute. Read more of this post

Preparing for the Promise of 5G in the Federal Government

By Toné Mason, Senior Analyst

5G is here – still in its infancy, but here. The 5G that we hear about in day-to-day life is marketed for the general public: Faster phone service, quicker download times, seamless streaming. It’s a race to see which provider can get the service to your city first and which has the best new 5G-enabled phone.

The real promise of 5G, however, is the intelligence that it can enable and the lives that can be saved or enhanced by that intelligence. The biggest customer for intelligence enabled by 5G is, of course, the federal government. 5G can grow and reach its full potential through various applications in our government, heading ultimately towards real-time actionable information for virtually seamless decision-making.

Low latency and high bandwidth are the two most important things that are arriving with 5G. Low to near non-existent latency will allow for millisecond response times, reliable transmissions and multi-access edge computing. The increased bandwidth provided by 5G will be important in enhancing security measures and data encryption with minimal impact on network throughput speeds. Increased bandwidth also will lend itself to the further growth of the internet of things (IoT), allowing that technology to reach its full potential as well. Read more of this post

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

5 Years Later and FITARA Remains Relevant

By Tara Franzonello, Contracts Manager

FITARA, also known as the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, was enacted by Congress in December 2014 with an aim to reform government’s management and acquisition of IT. Although agencies have made progress over the last 5 years, there remain significant challenges in working toward FITARA compliance.

What does this mean for technology providers? Opportunity!

So, what is FITARA exactly?  FITARA was passed with the goals of improving the acquisition of IT and allowing Congress to track agency progress toward reducing duplication and achieving cost savings. A key component to accomplishing this goal was instilling power into the hands of an agency’s CIO. Another critical provision outlined in FITARA and the MEGABYTE Act included the establishment of a government-wide software purchasing program. This program allows the government to act as if they are buying software (and related hardware and services) as one entity, allowing agencies to address many of their issues, such as outdated legacy systems and the duplication of software licenses.

While the FITARA Scorecard, which grades each agency’s progress in achieving FITARA goals, includes many subcategories (Agency CIO Authority Enhancements, Transparency and Risk Management, Portfolio Review, Data Center Optimization Initiative, Software Licensing, Modernizing Government Technology, Cyber), all categories are aimed at achieving one common goal: IT Modernization. What’s the reasoning behind that?

As stated in the June 26th Congressional Subcommittee Hearing on Government Operations, it was estimated that the federal government will spend nearly $92 billion on technology in 2019, with an overwhelming large percentage of those federal IT dollars being used to maintain legacy systems. This results in a staggering amount of money that is going to sustain outdated technology!

To further support FITARA’s goals, the Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT) was passed to establish working capital funds for use in transitioning away from legacy systems. As part of the MGT, the Technology Modernization Fund allows agencies to borrow money to retire and replace legacy systems. With the enactment of the MGT, it’s clear that strategic management and modernization are a real impetus driving FITARA.

There is a dire need to catch up with the newest technology, with an emphasis in cloud and cyber. However, the effort to modernize does not come without inventorying the current technology that the government already owns. Portfolio review with an emphasis on application rationalization activities, including retiring and replacing legacy systems, is critical to FITARA compliance success.

GSA’s role in FITARA is to implement strategy for the government to capitalize on the modernization of technology by giving the government freedom to (1) purchase solutions that address government needs, particularly in the areas of cloud and cyber and to (2) act as one single enterprise experiencing cost savings commensurate with the large volume of technology that the government as a whole will procure.

Cybersecurity has long been a major concern across government.  Agency systems continue to be breached due to outdated infrastructure and software. FITARA is forcing all federal agencies to make improvements in their cybersecurity postures by assigning a “Cyber” grade to its annual scorecard.  GAO continues to identify shortcomings with the government’s approach to cybersecurity. With GAO’s most recent recommendations, improving implementation of government-wide cybersecurity initiatives, addressing weaknesses in federal information security programs and enhancing federal response to cyber incidents are critical for agencies to improve their FITARA Cyber grade.

Cloud adoption is another critical element of FITARA. Several agencies have already made great progress in moving data from agency-owned data centers to cloud-based environments which has significantly improved their FITARA scores in the area of Data Center Optimization. According to the April 2019 GAO Report entitled “Effective Practices Have Improved Agencies’ FITARA Implementation,” NASA is in the process of closing its data centers and transitioning to a cloud-based environment with a commercial cloud-based model that hosts all its data in one location. Agencies, such as GSA, are also focused on optimized cloud computing environments and shared services – a trend that we will likely see taking hold throughout the government.

FITARA is continuing to turn up the heat on government agencies and there is some talk of the potential for Congress to attach dollars as penalties and rewards for FITARA compliance, so agencies are eager to up their grades. GSA has been encouraging IT vendors to partner with them and develop FITARA solutions that will help agencies make the changes. This will not only lead to higher scores – it will result in giant leaps forward on the IT modernization journey.

 

To find out more about how immixGroup can help you create FITARA-compliant offerings, please contact us at gsateam@immixgroup.com.

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Arkansas CIO All In on Shared Services

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

Arkansas has begun its digital transformation and is moving ever closer to a shared services model. Last month, Arkansas CIO Yessica Jones briefed the NASCIO Corporate Member Exchange on some of the recent changes in her state.

Probably the most impactful change was the re-organization following the passing of the Transformation and General Efficiencies Act during the past general legislative session. The act consolidated 42 departments into 15. Previously the Department of Information Systems, Arkansas’ central IT department reported directly to the governor, along with 41 other departments. Under the new structure, the Department of Information Systems has become a division under the Secretary for Transformation & Shared Services.

Jones believes that new department structure will improve IT project delivery, especially since all new secretaries have been tasked with identifying potential shared services opportunities. Several projects are already underway to deliver additional shared services to executive-branch agencies, including deploying enterprise-wide Microsoft Office 365, optimizing their data center, implementing mainframe as a service and several enterprise-wide agreements. Read more of this post

Agile Ops as a Path to Modernization

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

The word “agile” is everywhere now, describing everything from cloud technology to team dynamics. Beginning as an innovative method of software development, agile has expanded to describe projects, solutions, teams and workflows.

As government agencies look to update legacy systems, there is an increasing recognition that modernization encompasses not only updates in technology, but also improvements in how projects are developed and delivered. Here are examples of how federal agencies are applying the agile concept and how technology vendors can insert themselves in upcoming opportunities.

In the world of government IT, agile refers to a software development or project management method which aims to be faster, more customer-centric and more responsive to sudden changes than traditional methods. (If you want to further explore the basic premise of “agile,” GSA has published a comprehensive set of FAQs.) What is most noteworthy about the presence of agile development in government IT is that it represents a significant change in mindset. The government is realizing that efficiency, responsiveness and scalability are often the best ways to stay on top of rapid technological changes. Read more of this post

New Security Requirements Coming to DOD Acquisition in 2020

Lloyd McCoy Jr.Cyber security network concept. Master key connect virtual networking graphic and blur laptop with flare light effectBy Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

Starting next summer, anyone selling IT to the Department of Defense will need to be certified by the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) in order to compete for contracts.

The CMMC is a set of security standards that will start appearing in RFIs in June 2020 and will apply to all defense acquisitions by September. The CMMCs will represent security maturity levels and will have five levels, each with their associated security controls and processes. Level 1 will likely be like what we consider basic hygiene, with Level 5 describing the very best in security practices. The level needed will depend on the contract and will be used to determine whether a vendor makes the cut. Details on what each of the levels contain are scant right now but expect more information in the coming months as the Department collects public feedback. Read more of this post

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