FITARA Report Looks to Future Evolution

The 15th Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard was issued in December 2022 to provide a look at how agencies are meeting modernization goals. Much like the 14th report, all measured agencies improved their scores or stayed the same indicating that changes are needed to ensure the report fully reflects today's modernization goals that have shifted from data center consolidation to cloud usage, and onward to Zero Trust cybersecurity strategies. The committee overseeing the scorecard, as well as industry groups, are looking at ways to better align modernization activities with the report.

FITARA 15 Findings

Currently, the seven active grading categories on the scorecard are: 1) progress in transitioning to EIS contracts; 2) CIO authority enhancements; 3) transparency and risk management; 4) portfolio review; 5) data center consolidation; 6) Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act; and 7) cybersecurity/FISMA. Continue reading

Facing the Future of Biometrics

With many of us using our faces to "open" our phones, biometric technology has become an everyday consumer technology. Capitalizing on the comfort and ease of use of facial recognition, government agencies are looking to incorporate it (and other biometric methods) into their modern cybersecurity plans and approaches but are realizing implementation in a government setting raises a host of complications.

Interest in facial recognition is strong

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report in August of 2021 that detailed current and planned use of facial recognition technology by federal agencies. In a survey of 24 departments and agencies it found that 18 reported using the technology and 10 reported plans to expand their use of it. Continue reading

Cloud Is No Longer the Exception, but the Rule

Remote work, necessitated by the pandemic, accelerated many agencies' move to cloud computing. With remote and dispersed teams here to stay, cloud is a critical, if not primary, infrastructure for a number of organizations. With this wide reliance on cloud, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has been releasing Trusted Internet Connections 3.0 Use Cases, which give federal agencies guidance on applying network and multi-boundary security for remote users.

Similarly, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) recently combined its Cloud Computing Program Office (CCPO) with its services directorate and ecosystem. This move, creating the Hosting and Compute Center (HaCC), recognizes the long-term reality of cloud and the role it plays in delivering services and powering everyday work for the agency. The HaCC will be "responsible for providing the warfighter with critical hosting and compute functions using modern data center and cloud capabilities." This functionality supports a number of Defense Department initiatives including Joint All Domain Command and Control. Continue reading

A Short History of Shared Services…and What’s Next.

Shared Services in government is nothing new. The idea began in the 1980s with the consolidation of payroll and some other administrative functions. In the '90s the focus was on creating entities that could provide common business functions across government and, in that effort, become a cost center.

The 2000s saw the rise of the term 'Line of Business' that looked at common business functions across government to identify opportunities to transform, streamline and share. The Obama Administration looked specifically to IT as a shared service, releasing the Federal IT Shared Services Strategy that provided federal agency chief information officers and key stakeholders guidance. This guidance focused on the implementation of shared IT services as a key principle of their efforts to eliminate waste and duplication, with the intention to reinvest in innovative mission systems.

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More conferences fall victim to tight budgets

Originally posted by Eric Yoderon The Washington Post

Add two annual conferences on federal employee benefits to the list of meetings that have fallen victim to the current fiscal climate.

The Office of Personnel Management told agencies Wednesday that "based on the current budgetary situation facing Federal agencies," it is canceling its 2013 Benefits Conference, which last year was held in June, and its Fall Festival of Training, held last year in November. "Our survey of headquarters benefits officers indicated very few benefit officers will be able to attend this year," it said.

"We will work to develop alternative training opportunities such as webcasts during the rest of this year. While they will not be a complete, nor in some ways sufficient, substitute for the conference, they will allow us to continue providing training for benefits officers on critical issues," the message to agencies said.

The conferences are geared toward educating federal benefits officers about the details of employee benefits, improving their counseling skills and similar instruction.

The General Services Administration similarly recently canceled several conferences, also citing expected low attendance. Under guidance from the Office of Management Budget and internal policies, agencies are limiting spending on travel, training, conferences and similar expenses.

OPM said it plans to conduct a benefits training event in Pittsburgh next spring.