The State Department’s Data-Driven Future

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

In January of this year, the State Department made headlines when it established its Center for Analytics (CfA) to manage and analyze data across the entire department. The formation of an enterprise-level analytics center is a significant move for what has traditionally been a highly decentralized organization. It also reflects a broader goal at to better harness and apply its troves of data.

If you’re looking to get in on the action, read on for a couple of areas worth targeting in FY21.

Analytics to Improve Administrative Functions

Under Chief Information Officer Stuart McGuigan, IT systems at the agency are viewed in terms of business output, especially in how they support operational functions like workflows and onboarding. Speaking at an AFCEA Bethesda event in April, he described how the State Department is exploring robotic process automation (RPA) to speed up the onboarding process for new employees and further empowering back office staff.   Read more of this post

Shifting Priorities in the Upcoming FY21 Budget

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

With the start of the FY21 fiscal year just a few months away, the debate between the executive and legislative branches over priorities and tradeoffs in the FY21 budget will soon begin in earnest. At the heart of the discussion will be on what changes need to be made to the FY21 budget request presented in February, given the current environment.

Areas like artificial intelligence already have seen increased funding support in the request, but we’ll see more focus on areas specific to robotic process automation, security analytics and data mining — due to the ways agencies have had to adapt to conduct their missions.

It’s safe to say that every federal department will ultimately receive a budget that reflects the changing times. Additionally, it’s also safe to say that the priorities reflected in the upcoming budget will be needed indefinitely — to remain vigilant against future threats.

Here are some of the primary federal players that could see the biggest changes in the makeup and composition of their FY21 budget request: Read more of this post

Agencies Starting to Embrace New Telecom Contract

By Kevin Shaker, consultant

In August 2017, the GSA awarded the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract to 10 companies that will provide systems integration work to civilian agencies to update telecommunications infrastructures with modernized next generation networks. The EIS contract replaces the current Networx contact, which expires in FY20. While most agencies are ramping up to use EIS and send out solicitations for telecom projects, the Treasury Department and the Social Security Administration seem to be ahead of the curve.

Iris Cooper, senior procurement executive at Treasury released a statement at the ACT-IAC Network Modernization Forum on June 19, affirming that the department is looking to move forward with EIS and was expected to release its first task order solicitation in early July. Eric Olson, who replaced Sonny Bhagowalia as the Chief Information Officer at the department, will be overseeing this solicitation. In a departure from standard procedure, the contract will not be managed by a contracting officer. Therefore, having his buy-in, along with the blessing of the prime contractor, will be crucial for getting your solution in the door.

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Truths and Lies About Year-End Funding

Chris Wiedemann

By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

The end of another government fiscal year means another September, with all the craziness and excitement that it brings. As we’ve noted before, the government doles out an average of 40 percent of its annual IT expenditure in the final month of the fiscal year. In fact, given the relatively late arrival of this year’s appropriations, we might see that share go up this year. The conditions are ripe for a hectic four-week period, where we should all expect long hours to make sure every order gets filled.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re keeping an eye on the phones, no matter when they ring — September is the month for blue birds, but you need to be responsive to land those last-minute deals and capture year-end money. Steve Charles, one of immixGroup’s co-founders, has a great video running down other best practices for the end of the government fiscal year you might want to review.

All that said, I do want to address a common misconception about year-end money: in most cases, customers aren’t going to identify any new requirements for FY18. One of the most common requests our market intelligence team gets is to help reps “find” year-end deals — but the realities of the government buying cycle make it impossible to accurately track which customers have the right combination of unfulfilled requirements and unspent budget. Don’t add to the stress of the month by chasing new deals – instead, keep the following tips in mind:

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Omnibus signed into law–now what?

Chris Wiedemannfederal budget, fiscal year, procurementBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant

Despite some last-minute dramatics, President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill into law last Friday, fully funding the government for the rest of fiscal year 2018.

Of course, with any bill this size (over 2,200 pages in total), it takes a while to fully digest the implications for our customers and industry.

That said, it’s never too early to pull out some early highlights – to wit:

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3 opportunities in the president’s budget

Tom O'KeefeBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

We all know the administration recently released its FY19 budget request. Despite the fact that the president’s budget is effectively dead on arrival, particularly with Congress reaching a budget deal for the remainder of FY18 and FY19, there still may be some worthwhile pieces of information to be gleaned from it. (It should be noted this budget deal does not mean agencies received appropriations, and we’re still operating under a continuing resolution through March 23.)

While the priorities of Congress and the administration won’t always line up, there are places where there may be a general level of agreement on what spending might look like for the next year and a half.

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How to manage in an uncertain budget climate

Chris WiedemannBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant

It’s safe to say that, over the last few years, industry and government have both gotten used to a certain amount of dysfunction in the appropriations process. We haven’t had a full package of 12 appropriations bills since 2008; some combination of omnibus appropriations and continuing resolutions (CR) is the new normal.

However, even by those standards, this fiscal year has been rocky – a series of short CRs, followed by the first government shutdown since 2013. In the end, that shutdown lasted less than a day, as Congress passed a CR funding the government through Feb. 8.

This is good news in that our customers have appropriations again, and can keep the lights on for the next three weeks. If you’re lucky or were working on closing deals before funding expired on Jan. 19, those contracts may close during this CR. Unfortunately, there’s a downside to the deal: Without getting lost in politics, there’s a very good chance that we’ll be right back where we started when this current appropriation period ends.
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Is this the new way of modernizing old systems?

Chris WiedemannMGT Act, tech modernization

By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

If you attended the Civilian FY18 Federal Budget Briefing at immixGroup’s most recent Government IT Sales Summit, one theme should have resonated throughout: the new ways government agencies are approaching the old problem of legacy system modernization.

It can be challenging to separate rhetoric from action sometimes, but there’s real energy in government around addressing the challenges of technology overhauls. Agencies are taking a customer-centric approach to design and development, with agile methodologies and human-centric design really becoming deep-rooted in civilian IT groups – and, perhaps more importantly, they’ve gotten an assist from Congress in the form of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act, which was signed into law as part of the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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What you need to know about changes at DOD

Stephanie MeloniDepartment of Defense

By Stephanie Meloni, consultant, and Mark Wisinger, senior analyst

The Department of Defense and military services have been making strides to ensure DOD can modernize its capabilities across domains and stay ahead of threats. Facing budget shortfalls for the past few years has raised concerns about adversaries catching up to the U.S. With the DOD’s requested budget increase for the coming years, it will be looking to technology to restore readiness shortfalls and maintain the military edge.

Here are some of the major changes technology companies will want to be aware of in 2018:

CYBERCOM’s elevation to full command status

Expect CYBERCOM to officially become a Combatant Command by the end of October 2018, which will coincide with it reaching full operating capability. This also speaks to the ever-increasing emphasis on cyber as a warfighting domain, and one of its major focus areas will be automating cyber defense.

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The 3 DOD trends you need to know

Stephanie MeloniBy Stephanie Meloni, consultant, and Mark Wisinger, senior analyst

As we prepare for the Department of Defense FY18 budget briefing we’ll deliver at this year’s Government IT Sales Summit, we’ve been able to take a step back and look across the DOD to identify department-wide trends, initiatives and happenings.

Several are jumping out, driven by a fairly new administration and an updated National Defense Authorization Act.

Here are three trends to consider if you sell or want to sell technology to the DOD.

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