How and where to do business in the Navy: Part II

Lloyd McCoy Jr.By Lloyd McCoy, DOD manager

The Marine Corps will utilize a major portion of Navy’s IT budget for everything from cyber and incident response tools to data visualization and analytics.Here is part II of our breakdown of the Navy’s IT focus areas through FY18 and the best ways the private sector can generate new leads. (If you missed part I, click here.)

The Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) is the acquisition command for the U.S. Marine Corps. In my conversations with the service, a consistent refrain is that it wants to take capabilities that exist on a camp or garrison to the battlefield. So the Marine Corps is looking for technologies that are lightweight, flexible and that can be used at the lowest levels.

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Can data overload in the IC be tamed?

By Mark Wisinger, senior analyst

In an era with more sensors and data than ever before, how can intelligence agencies separate the significant data from the background noise?

Data management is an enormous challenge right now in the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community, especially as the internet of things emerges onto the scene. The big data challenges are linked hand-in-hand with cloud implementation, insider threats and cybersecurity, business intelligence and traditional IT infrastructure.

This data management challenge is an opportunity for big data vendors, with defense and intelligence agencies looking to the private sector for solutions in data access and search, data labeling and filtering and other management needs.

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SBA tech transformation underway, but more work needs to be done

By Kevin Shaker, senior analyst

When Maria Roat took the tech reins at the Small Business Administration last year, she promised to transition a large portion of the agency’s systems to the cloud. Things seem to be well underway, based on the chief information officer’s recent speech at the Citizen Engagement Summit hosted by FCW.

While SBA has made great strides since Roat, the former chief technology officer at the Department of Transportation, took over, tech companies still have opportunities to shape the future of IT at the SBA.

So far the agency has rebuilt SBA.gov’s interface, making it easier for small business owners to apply for loans and giving them easier access to loan processes and information. The website is also now mobile, giving internal and external customers more flexibility in how they use SBA’s services, which is a nice victory for Roat’s new leadership.

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Can data save state and local governments?

Rachel Eckertblog-sledanalyticsBy Rachel Eckert, SLED consultant

While the tumultuous situation in Washington is throwing a wrinkle into state and local politics, governments will continue to face a lack of funding and siloed operations. These two problems aren’t necessarily independent of each other, though. Siloed operations can create financial nightmares in the form of duplicative efforts and inefficient uses of data.

This was among the topics of discussion during last week’s Outlook 2017 event, organized by Governing Magazine.

Duplicative efforts and inefficiencies spell disaster for constrained budgets, which are already struggling to adequately fund education and public safety as Medicaid takes over an ever larger share of their budgets.

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Why you need to pay attention to DLA

mark-wisinger_65x85data-analytics_110316By Mark Wisinger, analyst

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is a large organization that handles logistics combat support for the Department of Defense. It also happens to have a $720 million FY17 IT budget. And as we recently heard from DLA Program Executive Officer, Bill Tinston, the agency has several IT initiatives that should be on the radar of data solution providers, as well as infrastructure and cloud vendors.

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Opportunity Alert: Homeland Security’s New Management Cube Initiative

Tomas OKeefe_65x85by Tomas O’Keefe, Senior Analyst

On Monday, October 28, at ACT-IAC’s Executive Leadership Conference, acting Deputy Secretary of DHS Rafael Borras (who has been the Undersecretary for Management for the past four years) unveiled DHS’s new initiative called the Management Cube. Effectively, the Cube represents the Department’s efforts to merge all of its back-office data into a single platform, so the agency can more effectively understand its day-to-day operations and identify areas of inefficiency that need to be addressed. DHS has been working on the Management Cube initiative for almost two years and is planning to unveil the initiative in January 2014.

Obviously, those of us in the world of federal information technology know that big data is one of the most talked about challenges for federal agencies. We’ve seen numerous big data initiatives, but it’s reassuring to see an agency with such a diverse mission portfolio as DHS finally take some concrete steps in putting big data to use. And where there are challenges for federal agencies, there are opportunities for federal contractors, particularly COTS vendors who offer business intelligence & analytics, data quality & management, and middleware and service oriented architecture (SOA) products. While the Department has been working on the initiative for two years, it is sure to uncover additional COTS product needs as it is rolled out across the Department.DHS

Think of the aim of the Management Cube this way – if there are extra dollars languishing somewhere in the DHS-enterprise, shouldn’t the Department find a way to put those dollars to use? Keith Trippie, who directs the Enterprise System Development Office up at DHS HQ, said that asking that first question led to a series of other questions that resulted in his group challenging the Department to start cleaning up its data and start running some serious analytics and developing dashboards to enhance DHS operations.

Trippie pointed out that there are challenges (remember, hear ‘challenges’ and think ‘opportunities’) remaining, among them change management and developing trust between different groups with the Department. But key IT challenges also remain – with many siloed, mission-oriented platforms built off of differing architecture, DHS is still struggling with getting the information in one place and ensuring the different types of structures of data can be analyzed as a whole. Another IT challenge is ensuring that the BI & analytics application developed to run these reports can do so quickly and effectively – a significant problem that will impede the goal of Management Cube to save DHS time and money.

It is most certainly worth it to reach out to Rafael Borras and Keith Trippie and see if you can assist them in enhancing the rollout of the Management Cube. Keep this fact in mind: DHS is an innovator among federal agencies and one of the first to truly take on an enterprise-wide big data initiative of this scale, so if you can help DHS succeed here, imagine the potential your solution could have across the federal government as a whole.

What you need to know about the new Defense Health Agency

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

We are one week away from the largest reorganization of military health in the Defense Department’s history – the formation of the Defense Health Agency (DHA). The new agency promises to be more than just a rearranging of desk chairs as it will change how the Defense Department handles procurement, oversight, and implementation of all facets of military health, including IT acquisitions. As Rick pointed out in his article on the DHA back in August, cost savings played a big part in this move for the Defense Department. And as we’ve highlighted before, shared services is a major aspect of the federal government’s campaign to drive down IT spending and DHA reflects this strategy.

DHA is expected to lower costs by merging services. Starting October 1, DHA will bring under one common roof, facilities planning (no pun intended), medical logistics, health IT, as well as Tricare and pharmacy services. By October 1, 2015, when DHA becomes fully operational, it will have oversight over public health, medical acquisition, budget and resource management, medical education and training, and medical research and development. The services will keep their respective medical commands, each headed up by their particular surgeon general.

If you cover Military Health Systems (MHS) and are familiar with the organizational landscape, you’ll note that many of the personnel won’t change. The senior leaders of the new DHA are as follows:

  • Director, Lieutenant General Douglas Robb, second in command over the TRICARE Management Activity will become the first Director of DHA
  • Deputy Director, Allen Middleton, who now oversees the budget will serve as his deputy
  • Chief Information Officer, Dave Bowen will stay on as the CIO
  • Acting Director Business Support Directorate: Colonel Darrell Landreaux
  • Director, National Capital Region (NCR) Medical Directorate: Rear Admiral Raquel Bono
  • Acting Director, Education and Training Directorate: Rear Admiral William Roberts
  • Acting Director, Research and Development Directorate: Major General Joseph Caravalho

In the months ahead DHA will face significant challenges right out of the gate and will be looking to industry for assistance. For example, the agency will be looking to COTS solutions for its upcoming integrated electronic health record, which is designed to both simplify healthcare for military personnel moving to civilian life and fuse legacy systems into one modernized system that will bring about a lifetime electronic health record. Moreover, with DOD facing mounting personnel costs, particularly in the area of healthcare, Pentagon leaders will be looking for solutions within DHA that will help realize cost efficiencies.

Finally, there are big changes ahead in military health IT, but you will be well-positioned if you have low cost solutions that cater to their priorities, namely in the areas of standardization, shared services, information sharing, and data analytics.

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