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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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

Movement to Make America’s Parks a Wi-Fi Paradise

NationalParkWifi_KSKevin Shaker_65 x 85by Analyst, Kevin Shaker

In the last few months we’ve seen a large push to make Wi-Fi available at parks across the country. Last week, a group of legislators wrote a letter to the President requesting deeper network connectivity and mobility across America’s 409 national parks. Currently, many of the country’s national parks have spotty reception at best.

The new National Park Service (NPS) networking hardware and the addition of Wi-Fi would not only improve visitor experience, it would make employees more effective. For example, Wi-Fi- enabled tools would allow trail rangers and tourist guides to better identify and communicate hazard positions and wildlife movements.

Early this year, NPS launched a “Go Digital” campaign, using the hashtag #NationalParks so visitors can share their wild life experiences through their mobile devices. Wi-Fi-equipped parks are becoming a hot topic and if you’re a router or network provider, you’ll want to pay attention to the President’s budget — scheduled to come out on February 9th. NPS officials have already started conversations on running a $34 million fiber-optic line from Grand Teton National Park into Yellowstone via CenturyLink. This line would create better connectivity for communication. You’ll want to reach out to the NPS Information Resources Directorate, which can be seen as the end-user implementation group as well as the Department of the Interior’s CIO IT Shared Services group.

The National Park Service isn’t the only group that might be expanding its Wi-Fi and mobile capabilities in the foreseeable future. The letter to the President comes shortly after the City of San Francisco finished installing Wi-Fi equipment at more than 30 city parks. Other cities such as New Orleans and New York City have already begun offering Wi-Fi areas within their parks as well. Parks across the country are inevitably becoming connected and if you offer network and mobile capabilities, you’ll want to become part of this exciting movement.

Need help identifying top infrastructure IT decision makers and opportunities within the Department of the Interior and state and local governments? Contact immixGroup’s industry-leading Market Intelligence team today to learn about specific programs and contacts that have a pressing need for your IT solution.

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

Virginia Becoming a Hot Bed for Cybersecurity

HotBed_RERachel Eckertby Rachel Eckert, Senior Analyst

It’s that time of the year when Governors make their “State-of-the-State” speeches to legislatures, outlining their priorities for the upcoming year. Virginia was no different with Governor McAuliffe identifying plans that could position Virginia as the “Silicon Valley” for cybersecurity — providing great opportunities for technology companies in the commonwealth.

Governor McAuliffe announced that Virginia won a competition among 46 other states, and was selected to be the host for the U.S. Air Force’s new Cyber Operation Squadron at Langley Air Force Base — set to be operational in 2017. This move will surely boost the economy and create more jobs in the area. Virginia is also home to the new VISA state-of-the-art cyber fusion center in Ashburn that will provide threat detection and command and control operations for VISA’s payment network. All of these support Governor McAuliffe’s goal to become a cybersecurity powerhouse. Read more of this post

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