FITARA 8.0 – No News is Good News

In place since 2014, the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) has aimed to provide guidance and checkpoints for agencies' modernization efforts. Over the years, the compliance status of the agencies has had its ups and downs.

The latest report card, issued in June 2019 showed fairly steady performance when it comes to meeting FITARA goals and mandates. This 8.0 report card was the first to include a cybersecurity score that focused on FISMA (Federal Information Security Modernization Act) compliance. This report also took out the score for Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) as the majority of agencies are holding steady on that score and/or it is complicated by technology interdependencies.

Continue reading

Department Spotlight: Department of Education

It's back to school time, so we thought it only fitting to take a look at the Department of Education (ED) to get a sense of what is on their "syllabus" for the next government fiscal year. The stated mission of the Department is to "promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access." It is a fairly new cabinet-level agency established in 1980. In addition to providing federal support and coordination to the states, the agency is responsible for administering loans and grants for higher education.

A current focus for the Department is modernization. A recent GAO report looked at the ten most critical updates needed in government. ED had one system on the list that was relying on COBOL programming language, a language that is not used or taught anymore, and those who do know it are retiring from the workforce.

Beyond this obvious and critical modernization need, the Department is looking at many other modernization initiatives, including updating the federal student loan process to streamline and simplify applications. Similarly, ED is actively investigating ways that modernized loan systems can reduce and even stop fraud involved in loan applications.

For people working with the Department of Education, there are several conferences and events in the coming months that address the education sector directly as well as guide modernization more generally.

  • Public Sector Innovation Summit (October 2, 2019; Arlington, VA) - This event brings together IT leaders from government and industry to discuss best practices, opportunities, and key trends in the government technology space. Additional focus areas include efficiently moving to the cloud, transforming IT to modernize government, innovating in a risk-averse culture, and much more.
  • EDUCAUSE Annual Conference (October 14-17, 2019; Chicago, IL) - Focused on the higher ed IT market, professionals and technology providers from around the world will come together to share ideas, grow professionally, and discover solutions to today's challenges. Topics include managing and reducing information technology risk, navigating change, transforming the student experience, and creating a culture of data-informed decision-making.
  • P3 Higher Education Summit (October 24-25, 2019; San Diego, CA) -- Public-private partnerships (P3s) are delivering essential infrastructure on campuses across the country. University representatives and industry leaders will discuss the latest modes of campus infrastructure delivery. The agenda will focus on P3 education, financing, procurement, policy, and networking.
  • Blockchain Expo North America (November 13-14; Santa Clara, CA) - This event will include a series of expert keynotes, interactive panel discussions and solution-based case studies exploring the key industries that are set to be disrupted the most by this new technology, including financial services, government, and education.

Let us know what other events could benefit people working at the federal level of education. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Answering the Call for Service: Customer Service Evolution in Government

Improving citizen experience continues to be a huge priority of agencies as part of their digital modernization. In fact, one survey found that more than half of government employees said there was a gap between the customer service their agency provides and what they experience in the private sector. While creating self-service portals is a big part of modernization, contact centers will continue to play a huge role in how the government interacts with citizens.

Contact centers may be more traditionally or commonly known as call centers. But this change in vocabulary is more than just semantics. Today's centers extend well beyond contact over the phone. To provide modern customer service, contact centers need to encompass online queries via email, live chats, social media, and in-person visits, in addition to phone calls. The response people get over these multiple mediums needs to be consistent and requires an overarching strategy and message that is understood by all representatives regardless of how they interact with citizens.

Continue reading

The Value of Professional Education

With the kids back to school, it's a great time to turn your attention to your own professional education. Lawyers, doctors, teachers and many other professions require periodic re-certification and have strict requirements for continuing education. Likewise, many government agencies and specialty programs like the Presidential Management Fellows, require their employees to attain a certain number of training hours a year, but for the majority of people, continuing education is completely voluntary.

For those seeking ongoing professional education, there are a number of classifications and categories of education credits available. Some of the most common include:

  • CPEs - Continuing Professional Education. Offered by universities, professional organizations and private companies, these courses are typically accredited by the organization's governing body and help professionals stay current with their industry and its changes.
  • CEUs -- Continuing Education Units. These credits tend to be related to licensed professions and are tied to the renewal of those licenses.
  • Certifications - Certifications are an official marker of knowledge, study and mastery and are typically tied to a specific skill rather than a field of study.
  • CLPs -- Continuous Learning Points. This form of learning credit was created by the DoD and acquisition communities. There is no central governing body or uniform set of standards for issuing CLPs making the process for offering and awarding CLPs less rigorous than that for CEUs.

The value in pursuing educational credits, even when not required, is in the outward expression of your desire to continue to grow and expand in your career. Having certifications as letters after your name provides a level of credibility. Continue reading

FOSE 2013 Announces Mobile Government Track

Leading Government Executives to Explore Topics Including BYOD and the Digital Government Strategy

Vienna, Va - FOSE 2013 will highlight the importance of today's mobile landscape within government with a track focused on mobile challenges and best practices.   Sessions will look at top strategies and policies including Bring You Own Device (BYOD), application programming interfaces (APIs) and mobilizing enterprise systems. FOSE 2013 will take place May 14-16 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

"With promises of decreased costs and increased efficiencies, as well as the release of the Digital Government Strategy last year, mobility is one of the most relevant topics today," said Mike Eason, Vice President, Public Sector Events, 1105 Media, Inc.  "But implementing the strategy comes with a learning curve.  The mobile government program features best practices and planning that helps attendees find approaches that best fit their agency's mission."

Continue reading