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

Beyond Cyber Hygiene

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

Helping agencies lock the door to keep external threat actors out of IT networks, combined with education and training, can only go so far in protecting government assets. There will always be vulnerability.

Public sector networks, with their treasure trove of sensitive information, face vigorous targeting by nation states and cyber criminals looking to steal anything they can get their hands on. Cyber-attacks remain one of the clear and present threats of our time with an intensity that shows little signs of abating.

So, how can those selling security solutions to government help mitigate threats when good cyber hygiene isn’t enough? 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

AI and Analytics: Must Haves for Our Naval Force

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Marketing Intelligence Manager

There’s a real sense of urgency in the Navy.

Increasingly, at conferences (most recently at AFCEA West) and in sidebar conversations, I hear maritime leaders talk about “Great Power Competition” and how we’ve reached an inflection point in terms of how dispersed our fleet can reasonably be while maintaining effectiveness with current capabilities.

The mantra “do more with less” has been around since time immemorial but there’s a widespread belief that while the U.S. military will always have the advantage in air, land and sea, artificial intelligence (AI) looks to be an equalizer. There’s also the belief that we are only at the beginning of the adoption and development cycle for AI.

How do you fight a war against an adversary that can predict what you are going to do before you even know? Ladies and gentlemen, we are in an AI arms race. Read more of this post

Technology Is Essential for Achieving State Priorities

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

It’s that time of the year, when governors make proclamations about budget priorities for the upcoming year. These speeches provide insight into areas where state agencies will be spending their money. These speeches rarely spell out overt technology priorities, but this year’s priorities of developing the workforce, improving physical infrastructure, increasing education funding and security — and not raising taxes cry out for technology.

Workforce Development
Many governors have spoken about increasing efforts to develop a more robust workforce. The discussion usually centers around training, especially technical training. Training today relies heavily on technology for its delivery of the curriculum and the subject material itself features a heavy dose of technology as well. In Massachusetts, for example, Governor Baker is advocating for training on advanced manufacturing, robotics and smart materials.

In California, the new governor stated a need for a comprehensive statewide strategy to uplift and upskill workers “to ensure technological advancements in AI, blockchain, big data…” State departments of labor and industry throughout the country will be looking for technology that will help match individuals to appropriate training programs, deliver education materials and track their progress.

Public Infrastructure
Another common theme is improving roadway infrastructure. Michigan struggles with an abundance of crumbling roads and bridges. In addition to repairing a multitude of unsafe roads and bridges, traffic congestion was also a problem cited by many other states, not just Michigan. State budgets do not have adequate funding to address this problem. With the help of public-private partnerships (P3s), though, many states are investigating new technology to help address infrastructure challenges, including traffic congestion. Read more of this post

AI in DOD: Three Places to Get Started

Stephanie Meloni

By Stephanie Meloni, Market Intelligence Manager

The Department of Defense is considering artificial intelligence for everything from improved maintenance and repair of weapons systems to supply chain management and improving business processes. Industry can expect to see exponential growth once implementation takes off.

Consider Project Maven, for example. The DOD’s AI solution for analyzing imagery for intel purposes, has seen funding grow from $16 million in fiscal 2018 to $93 million in fiscal 2019 — a 480 percent increase!

Central to DOD’s AI implementation efforts is the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. JAIC was created quickly to ensure that DOD effectively and ethically builds out its AI capabilities. The organization will look at AI cross-domain solutions across the service branches, as well as specific component projects.

Read more of this post

Government Needs to Shore Up Security Readiness – Before the Next Shutdown

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

Whether it’s through government shutdowns or cyber threats, the possibility of government having to unexpectedly operate at reduced capacity is greater than ever. While it appears that the recent partial shutdown had minimal impact on security readiness, we should count ourselves lucky instead of expecting such an outcome to be the norm.

With the resumption of full government operations, all agencies, not just those affected, should take stock and partner with industry to shore up their posture in two areas, risk management and AI.

Risk Management

Government agency risk management strategies have traditionally emphasized the threat landscape and vulnerability of attack surfaces. Expect agencies to take a hard look at their risk posture to determine whether they’ve adequately factored in the impact of government shutdowns. This is an area where industry can play a role – helping agencies adjust their security readiness in an environment where reduced operations may become more of a norm.

Work with your government customer or prospect to ensure that proper backup and recovery capabilities are in place, that their systems and networks have the right kind of resiliency and segmentation solutions in place, and that the security personnel are equipped with the right tools to “put out fires” when workforce and capacity levels are compromised.

Read more of this post

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