Blockchain technology is a new way of passing information from point A to point B. The data passes through a "block" that gets validated by a network of unrelated computers, and democratizes the transfer of data. This creates a transparency for the path of the data and makes that path irreversible. It also allows for computational logic to be attached to data, enabling automation around actions associated with it.
Organizations across government have been experimenting with ways blockchain technology could make transactions more efficient, secure, and transparent. With the COVID-19 pandemic the ability to easily, securely, and transparently share data has never been more important. In the many areas of our lives affected by the pandemic, blockchain is proving to be a tool for meeting the quickly evolving demands of public health, financial markets, and even democracy itself.
More than finding cost efficiencies with cloud, government has realized its adoption is critical to business continuity. With mandatory telework as a result of COVID-19, organizations that have been proactive in their move to cloud found themselves able to quickly adapt and continue business as usual in very unusual times. Organizations that did not prioritize cloud found themselves scrambling to give employees access to the technology they needed to do their work.
Luckily, policies including the Cloud Smart mandate helped put more people in the first category than the second. A study completed in March (before pandemic telework began) found that 71% of federal respondents agreed that Cloud Smart was driving cloud adoption. In addition to Cloud Smart, the FedRAMP program also helped drive cloud adoption leading up to and during the pandemic. In 2020 alone FedRAMP added 200 authorized products and are on track to authorize over 60 cloud service offerings. The program has also achieved over 1,850 reuses of cloud products.
With many people in a rush to put 2020 behind us, those of us in the government market can safely say we're operating like it's 2021 (not as fun as partying like it's 1999, but anything beats 2020, right?). While the rush to meet the deadline for federal government fiscal year (GFY) spending on September 30 may have felt oddly comforting in its familiarity, there are many changes happening in government acquisition and procurement to make processes more responsive to today's workforce and technology needs.
The use of automation is expanding beyond using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to handle rote, repetitive tasks. RPA has been incredibly beneficial for freeing up the time of acquisition professionals to focus on innately human activities, rather than administrative tasks. Now, acquisition groups are going a step further and introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve processes by tapping into all of the data available in acquisition systems. For example, GSA uses an AI-enabled bot to "track, find and change Section 508 disability clauses in contracts." This helps ensure compliance, feeding updated clauses to humans for final review.
In September, the Department of Defense (DOD) issued Directive 5000.01, an update to the 5000 series instructions that focuses on the roles and responsibilities for its acquisition process in an effort to simplify the buying process. The end goal of this simplification is to get technology in the hands of the warfighter faster. Continue reading
In a relationship-driven market, where you spend your time and money is critical. Add the pandemic to that for a radical new twist. Events of all kinds have always been a cornerstone of the GovCon market: briefings, seminars, conferences. You name it; we have them.
Over the years I have had numerous discussions with both event producers and those sponsoring or exhibiting events. I have produced many of my own as well.
When I get a call or email from someone asking me if they should participate in (pick an event), my first question is always, "What do you want to accomplish?"
Then we dive into details.
First, what is the pedigree of the event producer? There are several excellent organizations producing GovCon events: event companies, trade media, associations and even contractors who produce their own, like Amazon and Carahsoft. There are also the "occasional visitors" to our market who are not what I think of as properly pedigreed, as well as those with no background in events. Opt for those who are pedigreed - those who are here day in and day out. Continue reading
DevOps, a combination of the words development and operations, is designed to smooth the frequently problematic handoff between an organization's developers and its operations staff. It is an operational philosophy that has technology developers and the operational team who will use the technology working together closely through the entire development of a technology solution. The goal of this approach is quick releases of solutions that have an immediate impact on how people do their jobs.
On the surface this sounds like a perfect fit for government, an "industry" in need of fast digital transformation to meet citizen needs. The DevOps promise of making application development quicker and cheaper is incredibly attractive to the government. However, the third part of the promise, collaboration, proves to be the most problematic as culture and process stand in the way.
From a culture perspective, organizations need to break down silos and create brand new teams focused on an application's output, rather than on tactical roles. To achieve this goal, individuals need to be empowered with autonomy and be enabled with strong communication skills to ensure everyone understands their roles and buys into the overall project objective. As U.S. Special Operations Command CIO Lisa Costa described it, "creating a DevOps culture is akin to practicing tactical shooting. You remove all extraneous movement, and that's how you get efficiency." She said her team focused on stripping away processes that had accumulated over the years but were not serving the objective of getting solutions out to the field quickly. Continue reading