DHS’s New Mobile App Playbook

Tom O'KeefeBy Tomas O’Keefe, Consultantmobile apps

Security is one of the biggest hurdles for mobility in government, but some recent work by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) might make this challenge a little less daunting for federal agencies.

DHS has been working on a mobile app playbook to help agencies develop secure mobile applications and follow a streamlined process to introduce those apps into agencies’ mobile environments. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s a riff on the federal CIO’s Digital Playbook, suggesting a baseline for mobile app development and appropriate milestones to ensure the final application isn’t riddled with errors.

DHS has been a pioneer in securing the mobile workspace for the last few years. You might be familiar with DHS’ Car Wash process, a continuous pen-testing and design-verifying security application that vets mobile apps as they’re developed. Car Wash is available to all federal agencies (and even private sector mobile app developers), and DHS is continuing the trend of advancing the security of mobile environments with the mobile app playbook.
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Automation Tech Creating Opportunities at USDA

Kevin Shaker_65 x 85by Kevin Shaker, AnalystUSDA-farm

Automation technology could help the Department of Agriculture (USDA) analyze and track farmers’ crop sizes, costs and loan applications. But for now, the agency is relying on good ol’ pen and paper for many of these functions. However, things are changing. Streamlining USDA’s systems and operations is now a major priority, with the USDA Office of the Chief Information Officer listing information technology optimization as a key objective through FY18.

This is why we’re seeing automation activity coming out of many of the department’s sub agencies. At USDA, not every agency relies on the same IT capabilities that are distributed from the HQ’s OCIO. To some extent the department is decentralized, with many of its agencies containing their own IT groups with mission-specific legacy applications and systems.

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C4ISR Challenges: Converging Cyber and Data

blog-cybersecStephanie Meloniby Stephanie Meloni, Senior Analyst

Air Force, Navy and Army leaders shared their upcoming IT priorities for tactical operations at last week’s AFCEA C4ISR breakfast in Arlington, VA. There’s quite a bit of overlap in the challenges they face, but they really  boil down to cybersecurity operations and data management. Both will help military leaders develop a better and more complete Common Operating Picture (COP), which the panelists pointed out is “neither common, nor operational” at the moment.

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The End of No Child Left Behind Brings Technology Back to the Classroom

EduImg_100x100Rachel Eckertby Rachel Eckert, Consultant – SLED

As the No Child Left Behind Act draws to a close, the education market is seeing a shift in focus that will bring about much-needed change in school curriculum and learning approaches — all with an eye towards technology integration.

The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002, provided an avenue for teachers to identify where students were progressing and where they might be falling behind. Gradually, its requirements became too limiting for teachers and ultimately ineffective. In its place is the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law December 10, 2015. This relatively new act fundamentally changes how content and curriculum are developed for schools. Rather than mandates and broad-brush minimums required by the federal government, the new Every Student Succeeds Act puts the states and then each school locality system in control of the decisions and benchmarks that make sense for them. Read more of this post

NGA Rolling Out the Welcome Mat for Cutting Edge IT

Mark Blog Post.pngmark-wisinger_65x85.jpgby Mark Wisinger, Analyst

One of the lesser-known “Big Five” intelligence agencies, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), has been making large strides that mean new opportunities for technology companies. NGA consolidated its CIO and IT services offices under Douglas McGovern’s leadership. NGA’s deputy director, Susan Gordon, has instructed McGovern to be less risk-adverse. Now the newly consolidated office is focused on exploring technologies like mobility that were previously considered too risky. Expect NGA’s investment strategy to continue embracing cutting edge IT. Read more of this post

New Name, New Vision for DHS’ NPPD

Innovation concept, consultant in management doing presentationTom O'Keefeby Tomas O’Keefe, Consultant

The Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) finally has a new name and vision: the Cyber and Infrastructure Protection Agency (CIPA). Congress still has to approve the plans before NPPD can formally roll out its new name, but DHS leadership isn’t wasting any time.

Executives are full speed ahead implementing the new vision and responsibilities for NPPD stated in the President’s FY17 budget request. Part of this new vision includes continued expansion of the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) vehicle and making more investments in big data to support information gathered by cyber defense technologies. Read more of this post

Future IT Priorities in Store for DOD in FY17

DOD’s COCOMs: Unique Opportunities and RequirementsLloyd McCoy Jr.by Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD Manager

Continuing on last week’s blog post, Three Key Takeaways from the President’s FY17 Budget Request this week I’ll be focusing on some major DOD-specific IT priorities from the President’s FY17 budget request. In case you didn’t know, this will be the last budget request under the Obama administration.

Under the proposed plan, the Department of Defense (DOD) would receive $524 billion ($583 billion if you count wartime contingency spending). While that figure is a slight dip from FY16 funding levels, the language in the request emphasizes information technology’s critical role in achieving efficiencies and serving as a force multiplier.

While much ink will be spilled in coming days on changes to the major DOD weapon and vehicle programs (as expected, we don’t see much in the way of new major investments), what impact can we expect the new budget to have on IT spending?

Here are some of the top 3 DOD priorities reflected in the Presidents FY17 budget request:

  1. CYBERSECURITY FRONT AND CENTER
    No surprise, cybersecurity will remain a top priority for DOD. The overall budget for cybersecurity spending jumped to $19 billion, a 35% increase over FY16 levels. The Pentagon plans to spend about $7 billion on cybersecurity in FY17, a 21% increase from the $5.5 billion set aside for this year. Expect more investments in identity and access management, cyber resiliency and built-in security for some of DOD’s large network modernization, cloud and mobility initiatives. Additionally, we’ll see renewed focus on new and emerging cyber solutions.

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One Year Out of DISA’s Reorg – Five C’s Still Shaping IT Priorities Part II

DISA_220x100Lloyd McCoy Jr.by DOD Manager, Lloyd McCoy

Building on last week’s blog post — which focused on DISA’s Five C’s that continue to play large role in shaping their IT Priorities — lets now turn to the two offices that serve as the focal point for IT investments and programs within DISA: The Development and Business Center (led by Alfred Rivera) and The Implementation and Sustainment Center (led by David Bennett). I’ll also explore some of the directorates tied to each office, which underpin programs and contract opportunities.

1. DEVELOPMENT AND BUSINESS CENTER

The Development and Business Center (DBC) is where DISA determines their approach to developing and deploying new technologies and capabilities, under the framework of the Five C’s mentioned earlier. Industry engagement and demands from the rest of DOD influence their procurement decisions. This Center should be your first stopping point if you want to get your solutions inducted into DISA. Within the DBC are two directorates which control the vast majority of the top programs and contract opportunities within this organization: Services Development (SD) and Infrastructure Development Directorates (ID). Read more of this post

New FedRAMP Initiatives Driving Cloud Adoption in DOD

FedRamp_SMStephanie Meloni_65x85by Stephanie Meloni, Senior Analyst

Matt Goodrich, the director of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) at GSA, recently published a blog outlining some big changes ahead in the mandated cloud security certification program. The changes center around accelerating authorization time so users can capitalize on the speed of building systems using cloud capabilities.

These technology enhancements will create a publicly available dashboard, demonstrating how agencies are using the cloud. Additionally, changes include finalizing requirements for high impact security systems so Cloud Services Providers (CSPs) can start working with data and applications at higher security classifications. All of these efforts are aimed at making FedRAMP scalable and increasing cloud adoption at government agencies. Read more of this post

One Year Out of DISA’s Reorg – Five C’s Still Shaping IT Priorities Part I

DISA_220x100Lloyd McCoy Jr.by Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD Manager

We’re a year removed from DISA’s reorganization — a restructuring largely aimed at giving the agency the flexibility and responsiveness it needs to effectively engage with industry and its primary customer: the Department of Defense (DOD). No different than before, DISA’s IT priorities are shaped by what they call the “five c’s”: cybersecurity, cloud, collaboration, and C2 (command and control). These priorities are influenced by the Joint Information Environment’s (JIE) emphasis on infrastructure consolidation, information sharing, and shared services.

Here’s what you need to know about the five c’s and the opportunities they bring to IT vendors:

  1. Cybersecurity
    DISA’s goal is to remove vulnerability from DOD’s network. The agency is heavily invested in bringing situational awareness to network defenders, through consolidating security stacks, marrying together big data, analytics and cybersecurity, and investing in tools to secure DOD’s network. If a breach does occur, DISA is looking for solutions that will limit the lateral movement of attackers within the network. Cybersecurity vendors should note that DISA is also looking to inject more automation in security and have specifically called out automated compliance, scanning and monitoring as areas where they want to improve. Read more of this post
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