State Budget Documents: Treasure Troves of Information for IT Vendors

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

State budgets are certainly not the most exciting topics in the world, but they offer many clues into key areas where you can target your sales campaigns. Budget documents provide insight into the areas state and local governments plan to invest funds, identify areas of concern and often outline key priorities for the upcoming year or two.

Most state governments operate on a July 1 through June 30 fiscal year. The process starts with agencies receiving guidelines from the governor on priorities and mandates for the upcoming year. This typically occurs during the fall and is the best time to work with agencies as they scope out their business cases for inclusion in next year’s budget.

Agencies work with their budget office to finalize budgets before submitting final documents to the governor. With the governor’s approval, final budgets are submitted to the legislature, typically in the winter. The legislature is then tasked with reviewing, reconciling and approving before the start of the next fiscal year.

By the end of January, most states have submitted their budgets to the legislature and governors are beginning to make their “State-of-the-State” speeches which outline their budget priorities. While you can find the text and video recordings for each of these speeches online, here are some of the key themes you’ll see in many FY2021 budgets and what they might mean for you:   Read more of this post

CMS Needs YOU to Help Them Transform

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

In this era of widespread government IT transformation driven by Cloud Smart, FITARA and other initiatives, technology vendors can face difficulty in knowing where to most effectively focus their efforts.

In this blog I put the spotlight on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as one potential hotspot for you to focus on for 2020 – and beyond. I recently attended the AFCEA Bethesda Health IT Summit and gained valuable insight into the CMS modernization journey and its future objectives.

Read on for a couple of target areas for vendors and how you can strategize accordingly. Read more of this post

Space Force…Lasers, Satellites, Debt, Oh My!

By Toné Mason, DOD Senior Analyst

The Space Force has finally been established and its focus will be on national security and the preservation of satellites. But what exactly is it and where is it going? Will it include spaceships that shoot out laser beams?

Lots of people are asking lots of questions, but let’s get started with the biggest elephant in the room – armed combat. The Space Force will not include armed combat scenarios and the Air Force has no intentions to make it that way. Now that bubbles have been burst, what is the point of the Space Force if it won’t include armed combat? Why do we need a Space Force if there will be no armed combat? Read more of this post

Tips for Preparing for DOD’s New CMMC

By Hollie Kapos, Corporate Counsel

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) has been one of the hottest topics in government contracting this year. In fact, one of my colleagues addressed the topic in a blog on DOD and CMMC just a few months ago.

And no wonder everyone’s talking about it – it applies to ALL companies doing business with DOD, including OEMs, distributors and resellers. Here’s some basic information to help you prepare no matter where you are in the supply chain.

What is CMMC?

Intellectual property theft and cybercrime cost the United States billions of dollars and threatens national security. In order to protect government information from theft and other malicious cyber activity, DOD is making cybersecurity an acquisition foundation. Accordingly, DOD is developing the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification – a certification process to measure a company’s ability to protect sensitive government data.

Read more of this post

FedRAMP Authorization: The Ins and Outs of DIY vs. Outsourcing

By Ryan Gilhooley, Enterprise Cloud Solutions Manager

Software vendors and federal systems integrators continually wrestle with authorization for their cloud services through the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). It’s fair to ask whether your company really needs FedRAMP authorization at all?

The short answer is yes: Applications have to be FedRAMP compliant before they can be sold to federal government agencies as software as a service (SaaS). FedRAMP authorized applications also are advertised on the FedRAMP Marketplace, which is where government agencies go to determine the types of solutions available to meet their requirements.

The real question is how to handle the cost and complexity of the technical, compliance and documentation challenges of FedRAMP authorization. Should it be handled in-house or should some or all of the process be outsourced? Read more of this post

HAVA Grants Provide Funding for States to Protect Election Systems

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

With just about a year before the general election and eight months before the primaries, the rush is on to identify and mitigate any potential security gaps in election systems!

Our national election system is a very complex network and involves multiple stakeholders including federal, state and local public entities, private companies and citizens. Multiple IT systems and databases that manage and support voter registration, polling books, vote tallying and election night results – are all potential points of vulnerability.

Updating and/or replacing these systems is not cheap, and with already strapped budgets, this strains state and local governments alike. While some governments have already invested in systems upgrades and improvements, many others will be looking for help from the vendor community before the next big general election.

HAVA Grants Fund Election System Upgrades

The good news is that there are funds available to state and local entities in the form of grants from the “Help America Vote Act” – or HAVA. In March 2019, an additional $380M from the federal government was provided to states to help with election security improvements. Each state received a base of $3M with the remainder of the $380M distributed by voting age population. Smaller states typically only received the base $3M, but larger states like California received upwards of $34M. Read more of this post

Federal Modernization Challenges and Priorities for FY20

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

Data visibility, cloud and emerging technologies were important themes at a the recent IT Modernization summit hosted by FCW. The conference sessions brought together acquisition and IT officials from a variety of federal agencies, small and large, both civilian and DOD, who shared how their agencies are delivering on modernization goals.

Here are more details about these topics and advice on how you can position your company and solutions to stand out from the crowd.

Data Visibility

Agencies need improved visibility into their data. Data is the cornerstone of multiple technologies, powering AI and machine learning algorithms and bolstering cybersecurity efforts. It is, quite simply, crucial for government agencies to be able to gain as much insight into their data as possible in order to keep pace with rapid technological developments. Don Heckman, Principal Director in the Deputy Chief Information Office for Cybersecurity at DOD, noted that “visibility into assets is a huge challenge” for the agency. Read more of this post

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