Becoming Agile with Government Technology Solutions

Agile is an iterative approach to software delivery, building solutions from the onset of a project rather than trying to deliver it near the end. The use of this methodology is built on the need for flexibility and adaptation to changing requirements. It is a response to the reality of building modern technology solutions, software, and processes. As nothing stays static in today's business climate, the way systems are developed had to change.

Agile is a departure from the traditional waterfall development practice defined by linear and sequential order. A solution in a waterfall project cannot move forward until the previous step is completed. Once that step is complete, there is no going back to fix or change it - even if business needs require a change. In contrast, Agile-led projects are focused on delivery of smaller pieces of the solution with the understanding that failure is ok and an inevitable part of the process. Since all of the pieces of an application are not as dependent on one another, failure in one area will not break the whole system as it would in a waterfall process.

The adoption of Agile in government has been slow but steady. There are both cultural and procedural barriers to wide adoption of Agile. Procurements must be written differently to enable an Agile approach, and people working on the projects have to be willing to shift their thinking and workflows to accommodate the Agile process. Agencies, tired of long development cycles that result in technology that is out of date by the time it launches, have begun trying out Agile approaches and finding great success. Localities can quickly roll out digital solutions to citizens, systems become more secure, and agencies can meet cloud migration mandates and goals.

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MGT Passed-So What Now?

From time to time GovEvents will come across information we feel our members and audience would benefit from. Here's something we wanted to share:

The Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act became the law of the land on Dec. 21, when President Trump signed it into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This is the much-vaunted revolving capital fund-cut out of the original FITARA bill in committee-that establishes a central bucket of money at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), managed by the General Services Administration (GSA), for Feds to modernize legacy IT systems. Great idea when you consider that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) tells us Uncle Sam owns 777 supply chain systems and over 600 HR systems-and in light of the fact that we spend 80 percent of the $80-120 billion annual IT budget on life support for geriatric systems that should long since have been euthanized...

Show Me the Money.

However, while MGT is now the law, what does it really mean? This is an interesting question. Recent talk of MGT has trumpeted the $500 million central revolving capital fund-exciting, but a long step down from the $3.1 billion IT modernization piggy bank originally attached to FITARA. That said, it's significant to note that while the MGT Act made it into law, appropriators sat on their hands. Yes, believe it or not, there's no funding for MGT at this time. And, interestingly, there's a discrepancy between the bill, that authorizes $250 million each year in FY18 and FY19, and President Trump's budget request for MGT FY18, which was $228 million.

So, MGT NBD? Absolutely not. And, here's why... Continue reading

The Value of Vendor-Led Events

On the surface it may seem easy to write off vendor-organized events as one big sales ploy, but by doing so, you may miss out on valuable professional development and experiences. While admittedly vendors put on events to drive sales, these events are not just a long sales pitch. Instead, they are designed to educate the audience on solutions to the challenges they are facing day in and day out. And yes, that vendor's solution may "just so happen" to provide the technology and functionality being discussed, but that does not mean there is nothing to gain by attending.

Here are several reasons to add vendor-driven events to your 2018 calendar:

  • No one does it alone. The reality is in today's complex IT and data environment there is a wide variety of solutions that have to work together to get business done. Organizations need to understand how different technologies work together. Vendor-driven events provide an opportunity for discussion and hands-on demos. Take a glance at the agenda for vendor-led events and you'll typically see speakers and presenters from several different companies. Shows that do offer multiple presenters are more likely to be well-rounded and offer numerous ways to approach key challenges.
  • Government speaks. You'll often see government professionals discussing their successes (and failures) at most vendor-driven shows. What we hear again and again from our vendor partners is that government representatives are hungry to talk about what's working and to collaborate with peers. You won't hear endorsements from these government speakers, only the straight facts about what they implemented and how it worked.
  • Find your ROI. The reality is that government agencies at all levels are invested in technology brands. Knowing everything you can about what that technology offers helps you to get the most out of that investment. The chance to get hands-on with solutions under the guidance of the people who designed it is an incredible opportunity that you cannot get in your day-to-day work.

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19 Actionable Steps to Protect Online Privacy – Part 4 of 4

From time to time GovEvents will come across information we feel our members and audience would benefit from. Here's something we wanted to share:

  1. Consider not using Google

This goes not only for the main Google search engine but also all of the other tools - Google Analytics, Gmail, Google Apps, Google Drive, etc.

Due to its huge network and portfolio of tools, Google knows basically everything about you there is to know. Whether you're comfortable with this from an online privacy point of view is up to you.

When it comes to the main search engine, DuckDuckGo is an alternative worth considering, or even Bing (but then we're back in camp Microsoft).

As for things like Gmail and Google Drive, there are multiple viable solutions on the web. For example, SpiderOak is an interesting alternative to Google Drive and Dropbox that even has Edward Snowden's approval.

  1. Probably delete Facebook from your phone

There have been multiple stories appearing lately describing Facebook's alleged "in the background listening" practices. Some people are reporting concerns related to the Facebook app listening on to the conversations they're having over the phone and then suggesting ads based on the things mentioned in those conversations.

In all likelihood, or at least we'd like to believe so, this is not entirely plausible - and Facebook obviously denies. However, getting rid of the Facebook app from your phone surely won't hurt your overall online privacy.

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19 Actionable Steps to Protect Online Privacy – Part 3 of 4

From time to time GovEvents will come across information we feel our members and audience would benefit from. Here's something we wanted to share:

File shredder by Dr. CleanerOnline privacy is a topic that grows in importance every single year. With more and more web services, connected apps, and even home assistant devices that are gaining in popularity, it's now more crucial than ever to understand what the dangers to your online privacy are and how to protect it consciously.

This online privacy guide is all about that.

Here are 19 actionable steps to help you remain anonymous on the web and protect your online privacy. No sophisticated computer knowledge required.

  1. Update to a newer mobile device

It seems that every year companies like Apple, Samsung, Google try to convince us to buy the latest smartphone and toss our old ones away. Naturally, we resist. But we can't resist forever. At least not if we don't want our online privacy to take a hit.

What we need to remember is that modern mobile devices are computers. Just like your desktop PC or Mac, but only slightly less powerful. Therefore, they're also prone to various security threats, and just like any other device, they require constant updates to stay secure.

New devices are being updated constantly, so that's no problem. Older ones, not so much.

For example, Nexus 7 - a device that's still relatively popular (you can buy them on eBay right now) stopped getting security patches after June 2015. This means that whoever's using it has been left on their own and exposed to new security threats for more than two years now.

Whether we like it or not, at some point, a new device is unavoidable. Continue reading